Homemade Cheese Ravioli

I usually try to post recipes that aren’t too complicated or too much of a project. However, that doesn’t always give you a realistic view of the way we approach cooking and food around here. Take Saturday for example. Rich is on the Sur la Table email list and they sent him notices about cooking classes available at some stores. The St. Louis store doesn’t do classes, but I guess Sur la Table only maintains one email list. We saw a class on homemade ravioli and were intrigued. Later in the day we were planning dinner and we remembered the ravioli. Dinner (and the afternoon’s entertainment) solved.

We have made pasta before over the years. We bought a hand-cranked pasta machine about 15 years ago and we have used it a handful of times. Every time we do, we wonder why we don’t make pasta more often. I actually know why – it is so easy to pull out the box of dried pasta and dump it in the pot.

You don’t absolutely have to have a pasta machine to make ravioli or any homemade pasta, but it does help to get the dough rolled out thin enough. You could certainly do it with a rolling pin, though I have not tried it. If you live in the St. Louis area and want to borrow my pasta machine, let me know…

We made three cheese ravioli and cheese and pesto ravioli. They were pretty good, though some of them weren’t very pretty. We were impressed with ourselves, and though we might not make these very often, now we can say we have made homemade ravioli. They were better than any ravioli I have had in a restaurant, if I do say so myself.

The pictures make this look complicated, but it isn’t. There is a bit of rest time for the dough, and the actual pasta rolling and filling is fun, especially with many hands and plenty of time. Try doing this on the weekend and see how much fun it can be to create in the kitchen. Or, if you have absolutely no interest in making your own ravioli, sit back and read the recipe and look at the pretty pictures, which I can take no credit for. Thanks, Rich, for playing photographer (and dishwasher, and the third set of hands) to our ravioli making!

Three Cheese Ravioli
From The Cook’s Life
Makes about 30 medium ravioli
About 6 servings

Pasta:
¾ cup semolina flour (Bob’s Red Mill makes a good one)
¾ cup white whole wheat flour (or another ¾ cup semolina flour)
¼ teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons water

Equipment:
Pasta machine

Filling:
¼ to ½ pound shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
¼ pound ricotta cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
Pesto, optional

Your choice for serving:
Tomato sauce
Pesto
Cream sauce
Parmesan cheese

Mix the flour(s) and salt together. Add the eggs and water and mix well. You will have a stiff, shaggy dough.

Knead by hand, or under the dough hook of a heavy-duty mixer for 10 minutes.

The dough will stick to your hands and bowl or kneading surface at first. Keep your hands lightly dusted with flour to help with the sticking.

As you knead, the dough will gradually become smooth and satiny.

Place dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at room temperature for 60 minutes, to let the gluten relax and make it easier to roll out.

During the rest time, prepare the filling – mix the mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese and Parmesan cheese with the egg until thoroughly combined. Refrigerate until ready to assemble ravioli.

Clear a large workspace and set up a pasta machine. Flour the counter and a large tray or platter.

Divide the dough in quarters. Work with one quarter at a time, keeping the remaining dough tightly covered to keep it from drying out.

It is easier to put the pasta dough through the machine if you a helper – one person to crank and one to feed the dough through and catch it as it comes out.

Flatten one quarter of the dough enough to run it through the pasta roller on the widest setting.

 

 

Keep running the dough through the machine, changing the setting after each pass, until it is very thin, but not tearing. Setting #5 worked best on mine. Lay the long piece of dough on the floured counter. Do not forget to flour the counter, or you will be scraping filled ravioli off the counter – trust me on this.

Dot filling along the dough, leaving about an inch between the mounds of filling. If using the pesto, put ¼ to ½ teaspoon on top of each mound of cheese filling.

 

Put the second quarter of dough through the pasta machine until as thin as the first. Cover the filling with the second piece of dough, using your fingers (or someone else’s help) to press the top dough down between the mounds of filling as you lay it down. Try not to trap air in the pockets as you seal them.

Press the dough together firmly all around each mound of filling. Our dough stuck together just fine. If yours doesn’t, wet the edges of the dough before pressing them together.

Cut the ravioli apart between each filling mound. Remove the ravioli to the floured tray or platter. Reseal any edges that come apart.

Repeat steps with third and fourth quarters of the dough, and the remaining filling. The second batch will probably go together faster and look even better than the first.

Bring a pot of water to a full rolling boil. Boil the ravioli for 9-10 minutes, or until they are done to your liking. Taste the edge of one, where there are two thicknesses of dough, to make sure they are done. Drain the ravioli well before serving.

Serve hot, with your choice of sauces. Take a minute to admire your handiwork and marvel at your very own homemade ravioli.

Download the recipe without pictures here.

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