I love ravioli, but it is very hard to find ravioli that is paper thin and tender, instead of thick and chewy. So I thought I’d try to make it myself, using this recipe from Williams-Sonoma The Pasta Book. I made this recipe in three stages: First, I made the filling, at about 10 a.m., because it takes four hours for the ricotta to drain. I finished the filling about 2 p.m. and refrigerated it. Then I made the sauce about 4 p.m. and refrigerated it. I put the eggs out to warm to room temperature around the same time. Finally, at around 5:30 p.m., I started the dough, using a food processor and then pasta making attachment for my stand mixer. Dinner was ready about two hours later, but it was well worth the time and effort!
Avoiding Additives and Preservatives
Make sure the ricotta and Parmigiano-Reggiano do not contain colour or preservatives.
Drain the ricotta for four hours
Lightly smash the garlic and saute in oil
Simmer the sauce for about 20 minutes
I made the dough in a food processor
Knead the dough for 10 minutes
With a pasta machine, roll out the dough into long, thin sheets
Place the filling at regular intervals on one side of each sheet
Brush around filling with water, fold over, push out any air and seal the ravioli, when cut into squares
Boil for 3-5 minutes, then remove to a warm serving dish
Top with tomato sauce and cheese
2 cups (500 g) ricotta cheese
¾ cup (90 g) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (plus extra for serving)
2 large egg yolks
¼ to ½ tsp (1 to 2.5 ml) freshly grated nutmeg
Fine sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
To make the filling, place the ricotta in a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours to drain off as much excess moisture as possible. Discard the liquid and transfer the ricotta to a bowl. Add the grated cheese, egg yolks, nutmeg to taste, ¼ tsp (1 ml) sea salt, and pinch of pepper and mix until well blended and smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Simple tomato sauce
2.5 lbs (1.25 kg) fresh plum tomatoes, peeled and seeded, or 1 28 oz. (875 g) can plum tomatoes.
1/3 cup (80 ml) extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, lightly smashed
Fine sea salt and freshly ground white or black pepper
Handful of fresh basil, chopped (chop just before using)
Coarsely chop the tomatoes, place in a colander in the sink and let drain for 5 minutes. In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and sauté, pressing wit the back of a wooden spoon to release its juices, until it takes on a rich golden colour but has not yet turned brown, 1-2 minutes. Remove and discard the garlic and immediately add the tomatoes, ½ tsp (2.5 ml) sea salt, and season to taste with pepper.
Using a fork or potato masher, press down on the tomatoes to break them up until they are in fairly small pieces. Raise the heat to high and bring to tomatoes to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes form a thick sauce, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and use right away, or let cool, cover and refrigerate for up to three days. Makes 4 cups.
3 cups unbleached all-purpose four, plus more as needed
½ tsp. fine sea salt
5 eggs, at room temperature
1 tbsp. olive oil
To make the dough with a food processor, fit a food processor with the metal blade. Add all but ½ cup of the flour and the salt to the work bowl and pulse to mix. You will use the reserved ½ cup flour later to adjust the consistency of the dough.
Crack the eggs into a liquid measuring cup and remove any stray shells. Add the olive oil; there is no need to stir. Pour the eggs and oil into the work bowl. Process until the flour is evenly moistened and crumbly, about 10 seconds. Test the dough by pinching it; if it is very sticky, add more flour, 1 Tbs. at a time, processing until it is incorporated. After about 30 seconds total, the dough should come together in a loose ball and feel moist but not sticky.
Dust a clean work surface with flour. Remove the ball of dough from the food processor and place it in the center of the floured surface. Using your hands, flatten the dough into a disk.
Using the heel of your hand, push the dough down and away from you, fold it in half back toward you, rotate a quarter turn and repeat the kneading motion. After about 10 minutes, the dough should be smooth and elastic.
Shape the dough into a ball, cover with an overturned bowl and let rest for 15 minutes before you roll it out. The gluten in the flour will relax, making the dough easier to roll. Do not let it rest longer or it will be too dry. Makes 1.25 lb. dough.
Roll out the pasta with a machine, to the thinnest setting. Lay the sheets out flat on a floured surface
Working with one piece of dough at a time, fold lengthwise to make the centre, then unfold so it is flat again. Beginning about 2 inches (5 cm) from one of the short ends, place small spoonfuls of the filling at 2-inch (5-cm) intervals down the centre of one side of the fold. Dip a pastry brush in cool water and lightly brush around the filling; this acts as a glue that keeps the filling tightly sealed inside the pasta. Fold the dough over the filling. Using your fingers, mold the dough around the filling to eliminate any air pockets. Press the edges of the dough firmly together to seal. Using a fluted or straight pasta cutter or a chef’s knife, trim off about 1/8 inch (3 mm) from all sides of the pasta strip. Cut evenly between the mounds to make 2 to 2.5-inch (5- to 6-cm) square ravioli. Place the ravioli in a single layer on a floured rimmed backing sheet. Turn every few minutes to prevent ravioli from sticking. Do not let them sit too long or the filling will seep through the dough.
In a large pot, bring 5 quarts (5 litres) of water to a rapid boil.
Rewarm the tomato sauce, stirring in the basil as the last ingredient.
Add salt to the boiling water and gently drop in half of the ravioli, then cover the pot. When the water returns to a boil, uncover and cook, stirring occasionally and reducing the heat as needed to prevent the ravioli from knocking against one another and breaking. The total cooking time should be 3-5 minutes. Test a ravioli for doneness, then lift our with a large slotted spoon, allowing a little water to cling to them so they remain moist, and transfer to a large, warmed, shallow serving bowl; cover the bowl with foil to keep ravioli warm. Repeat with remaining ravioli. Spoon the tomato sauce over the ravioli and sprinkle with a little cheese. Serve right away. Pass extra cheese at the table. Serves 4.
From Williams-Sonoma The Pasta Book, by Julia della Croce