I was very excited about making pasta from scratch and had grand visions for making ravioli. But what kind of filling should I make? Beef? Chicken? Veal? Cheese? I kept tossing ideas around and decided to be reasonable and just choose: I’d make three different fillings (veal & olive, mascarpone mushroom, and herb & lemon goat cheese). Decisiveness is one of my strong points.
So knowing that the fillings would be the slow part, I hurried to work, preparing far too much of each, telling myself no problem, I’ll just freeze the excess ravioli and have an easy back-up dinner for weeks to come. I was in a good mood and in no real hurry at all–I was hungry, but the fillings were coming along great and making/stuffing the pasta would be a really quick process. There was nothing to worry about. I could just snap my fingers, and dinner would be ready. So I casually pour the flour in my shiny new pasta maker, crack the eggs, put the lid on, and hit the power button.
What? Maybe I didn’t plug it in. Hmm, crap, I did plug it in. Off, on. Nothing. Ok, maybe the lid isn’t on tight and it has some safety thing. Unscrew, rescrew, on. Nothing. Uh, crap. Maybe its a bad outlet. Out, in, on, nothing. Crap. Ok, maybe some other part of it is loose and there’s some other safety switch thing. Pour out the flour, take it apart, put it back together tightly, on, nothing. CRAP. Check the manual for troubleshooting. Crap. Fine, check the web site. CRAP. This dance continues for a few minutes as I refuse to accept that my pasta maker was dead on arrival, fresh out of the box. But, but, all of my fillings…and the flour…and the now cracked eggs…AND I’M HUNGRY.
Maybe if I try to reason with it. On…and dammit, nothing. From the other room, I’m asked if dinner “is almost ready?” 😮
At this point, I suppose you could say I’m a bit frustrated and ready to throw the DeLonghi against the wall. But seeing how I had nothing else to eat, I decided to see if I could try making the pasta by hand. Now you can make pasta by hand, but that doesn’t mean you should. The dough for pasta noodles is kind of tough to work with and making pasta requires that you really flatten that dough out to be paper thin. Doing this by hand (well, by rolling pin) will get your exercise in for the day, but it will be very difficult to make the noodles thin enough, and if you don’t do so, the end result is that the pasta will not quite come out as delicately as you would like once cooked (this is what happened to me). So in the mean time, I’m eagerly awaiting Amazon’s returns department so I can try “pasta making: round two” with a slightly different machine, so cross your fingers for me. Home-made pasta is not done for yet!
So given all of that, I think that this dish had a lot of potential. The fillings (which I sampled many a time during all of this) were all individually delicious: the veal was rich and hearty, the mushroom creamy, earthy, and nutty, and the herbed goat cheese was lively, sweet, and tangy. I have a lot of leftover filling, so once the new pasta roller gets here, I’ll whip up another batch of pasta dough and be trying my hand at this again. This is also my entry for this week’s Presto Pasta Nights.
- Pasta dough
- 3.5 cups flour
- 4 eggs
- 1 tsp water
- Mascarpone Mushroom filling
- 2 cups morels/cremini/porcini (I used 1 cup cremini, 1 cup porcini)
- 1 leek
- ~5 oz mascarpone cheese
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 6-8 cloves garlic
- 1/2 shallot
- Herb & Lemon Goat Cheese filling
- 1 cup goat cheese
- 6-8 cloves garlic
- 1/2 shallot
- zest of 1 lemon
- handful of fresh basil
- handful of fresh oregano
- handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Veal & Olive filling
- 1 lb ground veal
- 15-20 olives (I used kalamata)
- 1 shallot
- 6-8 cloves of garlic
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- handful of fresh basil
- handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1/4 cup vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup mushroom broth (I used the liquid from reconstituting the dried mushrooms for the Marsapone Mushroom filling)
- black pepper
- Sauce (tomato, white wine, browned butter–you’ve got options!)
So with all of that in mind, before you do anything, verify that your intended pasta equipment is functional–I know I will next time. 😉
Now, cooking wise, the best first step is to prepare the fillings for the ravioli so that it will have some time to cool down before you go and stuff it into the raviolis (because then you’d start prematurely cooking the pasta dough). So decide which of these fillings you’d like to try or make them all (and have a lot of pre-made ravioli for the freezer–just don’t boil/cook the pasta before you freeze. Your last step is simply making/filling the raviolis). If you do make all of the fillings, you will probably need to make more pasta dough than prescribed above–given the difficulties I had with the broken machine, I didn’t use all of my filling up, so I can’t make a good estimate as to how much pasta you’ll need.
I used dried mushrooms, so if you’re doing the same, reconstitute them in water according to the package directions (for me, that meant letting them sit in warm water for 30 minutes, and then drain and pat dry. I save the liquid in a jar for use as a broth). Gather the vegetables and cheese for the filling. Dice the shallot, garlic, and leek (you only need the pale part, and be sure to wash it well!).
Sautée the shallot and garlic in a pan with some olive oil for about 3 minutes to soften them up. Then add in the leeks and let that go for about another 5 minutes. Finally, add in the mushrooms. Stir periodically, and in 10 minutes, take this off of the heat and put it in your food processor.
Blend the contents of the food processor with the cheese and you’ll have a not so attractive looking mixture. The mascarpone adds creaminess, sweetness, and really determines the texture of this filling whereas the parmesan enhances the nuttiness of the mushrooms. Set this aside (and have a taste–this is the filling. Creamy, nutty, and rich).
Gather the herbs and veggies for the filling. Dice the garlic, shallot, and zest a lemon.
Sauté the shallot and garlic in some olive oil for about 3 minutes and then add in the lemon zest. After about a minute. Take this off of the heat and transfer to your food processor. Add in the fresh herbs and pulse to dice things finely.
Add in the goat cheese and pulse a few times more to make a fairly homogenous mixture. The goat cheese really determines the texture and has a strong tang which will be balanced by the sweet, lightness of the lemon and rounded out by the flavor of the herbs. Set this aside in a bowl (and have a taste–that’s the filling).
Gather the fresh ingredients for the veal. Dice up the garlic and shallot and pit the olives if necessary. Sauté the garlic and shallot in some olive oil for about 3 minutes or so.
Add the cooked garlic and shallot along with the basil, parsley, and olives into the food processor (leave the rosemary out of this). Pulse to chop them up a bit while you heat up a small amount of olive oil in a pan for the veal.
Crumble the veal into the pan and brown on medium/medium-high heat. Once the meat is browned, add in the contents of the food processor as well as the broth. Sprinkle in salt and pepper to taste (I doubt you’ll need any salt given the brininess of the olives). Slide the sprigs of rosemary underneath everything and let this simmer until the liquid reduces by about half, figure 10 minutes or so.
Once cooked sufficiently, drain off any excess liquid, remove the sprigs of rosemary, and set the cooked meat aside. This is the filling. Rich, a little sweet, and hearty.
This part is fairly unexciting. In either a pasta maker or the bowl of a stand mixer (and follow the instructions that came with it–there might be restrictions about how much flour/what kind of flour your machine can handle! Respect the limitations of the motor!), let it knead the flour, eggs, and water for 1-5 minutes (again, check machine instructions). If you’re using a stand mixer, remove the dough ball, knead a little bit more by hand, and let it rest for 15 minutes or so before rolling sheets of pasta through your pasta roller. If using a pasta maker, you can probably extrude a sheet of pasta at this point.
Whatever the case, the ultimate goal is to have big sheets of thin pasta (like lasagna), so crank them out.
Finally, the end is near. You have your filling(s) cooked and ready, sheets of pasta rolled out and ready, so now all you have to do is form raviolis, stuff them, and seal them shut. I have a ravioli mold for this, so that’s how I’ll be doing this, but there are also attachments/machines that can automate this entire step for you (it has a bowl of filling and it rolls the pasta through, letting out stuffed raviolis on the other side–pretty neat!).
Lay down the metal part of the ravioli mold stand, sharp sides up. Lay a sheet of pasta over this (letting some hang over the edges on all sides. Grab the plastic piece of the mold (it has little hemispheres) and press it into the pasta so that the hemispheres press the pasta down into the holes of the metal mold. This forms all of the pockets for stuffing the ravioli.
Now, remove the plastic piece of the mold and fill each pocket with your prepared filling. If any of the pockets have holes, skip over it (it will fall apart when you cook the pasta). Also, don’t overstuff each of these (again, it will fall apart when you cook it). A small mound will do.
Finally, grab a small bowl of water. Dab your fingers in and run them on all edges of the grid between each of your filling pockets. You want to moisten this to make it easier to seal the pasta shut (or else, again, it will burst open when you cook it). Then, grab another sheet of pasta (or fold this one over if its large enough) and lay it flat on top of this one. Using a rolling pin, run it back and forth over the ravioli mold until the sharp part of the mold begins to show.
Tear away any extra pasta from the edges of the mold, and then carefully press each ravioli through. Set these aside and repeat this until you use all of your dough and all of your filling. Any leftover dough you generate in the process can go right back through your pasta roller so that you have a nice flat sheet to start with again.
Once you’ve finished preparing all of your ravioli, decide how much of it you want to cook for now. You might have a lot, so this is good point to set some aside to freeze (it will be an easy dinner for another day). If that’s a part of the plan, lay them out on a piece of parchment paper and freeze them overnight. Then, once frozen, you can transfer them to a more convenient container–this way, when they freeze, they won’t all stick together and it will be easy for you to only use what you need later.
So get a pot of water boiling. Once boiling, carefully add in the ravioli and stir periodically to prevent sticking. At anywhere between 4 and 10 minutes (really depends on how thin/thick your pasta dough is, so sample one ravioli to determine done-ness), the pasta will be done cooking, so drain it off and plate immediately. Top these off with whatever sauce suits your fancy–I just went with a basic tomato sauce, but each of these fillings could pair well with any number of sauces (e.g. a creamy white wine sauce for the mushroom, a burnt butter for the goat cheese, etc).
Whatever fillings you prepare and whatever sauce you pair with it, enjoy!