Running Forward

Ravioli Warriors

on March 12, 2015

Last weekend was not only the slow start of spring in NYC, but I had the opportunity to learn how to make homemade raviolis. I tried my hand at these little dumplings back in the day (middle school I think), but I didn’t use a pasta press, which made the task much more difficult and probably resulted in larger biceps (I was still a competitive gymnast then, so I certainly didn’t need my arms to get any bigger than they already were). Luckily, we had a pasta press to work with this time, so I was more than eager to take on the challenge.

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Instead of including an exact recipe, I’m going to walk you through the process. We are both handy in the kitchen, so we were able to make it up as we went. Luckily, the finished product turned out delicious! So, let’s get started.

First we gathered most of the ingredients at Eataly. I’m just including this because it added to the experience. We were also able to get our hands on some great cheese (ricotta, Gorgonzola, and parmigiana) and mushrooms (dried porcini, cremini, and shiitake).

The Sauce

As soon as we arrived back at the apartment we got down to business. I began by putting together a simple tomato sauce by sauteeing a chopped onion and finely chopped garlic until translucent. I added some seasonings (basil, salt, parsley, etc.) then poured in a large can of crushed tomatoes and a large can of whole romas (which I crushed by hand). I proceeded to add more seasonings and let the mixture simmer throughout the rest of the cooking process.

The Filling

We weren’t exactly sure which direction we would take the filling, but ended up focusing on mushrooms and cheese. We began by finely chopping an onion and quite a few cloves of garlic (4???) and sauteeing them for a few minutes with a little olive oil. We then chopped up all the mushrooms we had (almost a pound I would say) and added them to the already-cooking onion mixture.

Side note: We could only find dried porcini and ended up getting only 3 big slices ($50 a pound- what?!). We rehydrated them before starting the filling by simmering them in just enough water to cover. After we added the chopped creminis and shiitakes to the pan, we added the chopped porcinis and the cooking liquid (so much flavor in the liquid!).

We let the mushroom mixture keep cooking down while continuously stirring and adding some spices along the way. The shiitakes had such an amazing flavor! They may be my favorite mushroom.

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While the mushrooms cooled down we added the ricotta, a little gorgonzola, some chopped spinach, and parsley to a bowl and stirred to combine. We added some of the cheese to the mushrooms once they were room temperature and pureed in batches in the food processor. You can leave the mixture chunkier if you like, but we were going for something a little smoother. It’s all about preference!

The Pasta Dough

Now for the messy part. The pasta dough is the component that I was the least familiar with, so I trusted my “teacher” on this one. He scooped out around 2 cups of flour for each of us and created a mound with each pile. We then used our fists to create a bowl-shape in the center for the eggs to rest in. We cracked three eggs in each pile, then used a fork to whisk them while gradually incorporating the flour. Eventually we reached a point when the dough was ready to be kneaded by hand, so we got messy. We kneaded until all the lumps were gone and the texture was nice and elastic. We cut the dough into smaller sections then used the pasta roller to turn it into long, thin sheets, always starting with the thickest setting and gradually adjusting to the thinner settings. We created raviolis with each sheet as it came out of the roller.

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I completely forgot to take pictures of the actual process of filling the dough, but here are the key takeaways.

  • The exact shape doesn’t matter
  • Don’t overfill or else it will be difficult to seal your ravioli
  • Use your finger and a glass of water to wet the perimeter of the ravioli edges so that the dough doesn’t fall apart when you cook it
  • When sealing your ravioli make sure you press around the filling to get rid of the air

Here’s some of our finished product:

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Cooking and Serving

Since the dough is so fresh and delicate it barely needs to cook. Simply drop them one-by-one into aΒ  heavily salted pot of boiling water and remove each ravioli once it floats to the surface. We took our raviolis straight from the water to the sauce and added a bit of the starchy cooking liquid to help the sauce stick to the pasta. Once done, we served the raviolis with freshly grated parmesan and a side of charred green beans. Such a delicious dinner and well worth the work!

*Credit for the following photo goes to my fellow ravioli warrior!

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