Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Handmade Ravioli

Oh my I love pasta. I mean, who doesn't?? When we were living in the States some of the grocery stores had fresh pasta made in house available for purchase. Now that we live in Japan and the starch of choice is, of course, rice.... not so much. Naturally the solution to that problem is to make your own! It's been something I've wanted to do for a while now, anyway, and not having it available is just the kick in the motivational pants I needed. 

It was not nearly as difficult as I anticipated it to be, however it can be time consuming. The recipe I used calls for a pasta roller, which if you have will help this process go much more quickly. I just used a rolling pin to roll the dough as thin as I could without it being translucent. Luckily these raviolis freeze beautifully. I just threw some stuff together for the filling, and with my favorite stand-by's of chicken, mozzarella and spinach, it was hard to go awry. I made a light white wine cream sauce, but I think I got the proportions of wine to cream wrong, so I won't include that recipe. My husband enjoyed them with some marinara sauce, and I agree they complement each other well. But y'all know me... I am simple when it comes to pasta and I'm happy eating it with just a little bit of shaved parmesan and freshly ground black pepper!

Did you know that ravioli is traditionally a vegetarian dish? From what I was reading, the word ravioli comes from an Italian verb meaning to stuff or wrap, and they originated in the Liguria region of Italy. Their diet was a lot of vegetables, fish and pasta, because they did not have a lot of room on which to raise meat rendering animals. Interesting, huh? (source: http://www.patriciathomson.net/PatriciaThomson/farinata.html)

Homemade Ravioli

Dough: As seen on FoodNetwork(dot)com
Filling: A ButterThanToast original

Pasta Dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, plus 1 for egg wash
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Cornmeal, for dusting (I didn't use any this time)

1 pound ground chicken, browned and excess fat drained
1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1.5 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded (packaged) or chopped (if using fresh)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
heavy pinch salt

To make the pasta dough: In an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour and salt. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and continue to mix. Drizzle in 1 tablespoons of the olive oil and continue to incorporate all the flour until it forms a ball. Sprinkle some flour on work surface, knead and fold the dough until elastic and smooth, this should take about 10 minutes. Brush the surface with the remaining olive oil and wrap the dough in plastic wrap; let rest for about 30 minutes to allow the gluten to relax.

During the resting period, mix together ingredients for the filling as well as the egg wash. If cooking immediately, prepare your pot with lightly salted water.

To make the ravioli, tear off a piece of dough about the size of a golf ball, and recover the remaining dough with plastic wrap so it does not dry out. Flatten the small ball with your hands, then roll out until it's very thin but not quite translucent. The shape does not really matter, since the next thing you'll need to do is use a biscuit cutter to cut out circles from the dough sheet. 

Once you have and even number of circles cut out from the first ball of dough, drop 1-2 tablespoons onto the center of half of the circles. You want about 1/4 inch free space at the edge of the circles all the way around. Dip your (clean) finger into the egg wash and trace the rim of the circle with the filling. Gently lay an unfilled circle on top, pressing gently from the center out to get rid of any air bubbles. End with pressing around the edges gently to seal the ravioli. Store on a lightly greased cookie sheet, using plastic wrap sprayed with Pam between layers so the pasta doesn't stick to each other. 

Continue this process until you run out of pasta or filling, whichever comes first. As you near the end of the filling stage, turn on the heat to your water so hopefully it's boiling by the time you're finished filling the pasta. Any ravioli you want to freeze, just pop the cookie sheet into the freezer until frozen. The Pam spray should help the ravioli release from the plastic wrap pretty easily. Once they're frozen solid, you can transfer them to a ziplock bag, where they'll keep for up to 2 months in the freezer.

To cook the ravioli: Bring plenty of salted water to a rolling boil, cook pasta for 4-6 minutes; they'll float to the top when ready, so be careful not to overcrowd the pot. Lift the ravioli from water with a large strainer or slotted spoon. Bath the ravioli in your favorite sauce to lightly coat and serve.

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