Monday, November 12, 2012

Spinach Ravioli

Ravioli-making is no simple task, but if you choose to partake then you will not be disappointed. It was only after I made my own ravioli for the first time that I appreciated the price on the menu at restaurants that took the time to make their own. I tend to think that many pasta dishes are over-priced, as many, not all, of the ingredients are quite inexpensive. However, with ravioli what you're paying for is the sheer amount of human labor it takes to make enough ravioli to serve everyone who orders it.

I've learned that if I am going to make ravioli, I need to allot at least 3 1/2 hours to get the job done. And this is after several rounds of practice. So if this is your first go at making this delicious dish, I would give yourself a whole afternoon. Worst case scenario you end up with extra time on your hands.

The other lesson I've learned is that if I am going to make ravioli for a crowd, I make it the day before so that there is no chance I am crunched for time. It is no fun to be frazzled because your guests are arriving in 20 minutes, you still have two batches of ravioli to make, your kitchen is a mess, and you are not showered. Believe me - I speak from experience!

If you aren't going to use all of this ravioli in one sitting, you can freeze it for weeks/months at a time. I actually made this yesterday and froze all but two servings of this batch so that when little snow pea arrives, we have several easy meals on hand.

Spinach Ravioli
Kelley Gondring

Makes ~80 large ravioli (enough to serve as an entree for ten people)

Determining the correct consistency for pasta dough is really tricky. It is truly a "practice makes perfect" kind of thing. While I follow this basic recipe, I always add either more oil or more flour (sometimes even an extra egg!) depending upon the consistency. I say this ahead of time so that you don't stress if you have to tweak the basic recipe.

Add to a food processor:
3 1/2 cups flour [do not pack flour]
6 whole eggs
1-3 tablespoons olive oil

Pulse together until the ingredients just come together.** The dough should be a bit crumbly rather than one cohesive ball. Remove from the food processor. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Add flour or olive oil as necessary.

**If the dough looks completely dry - not like dough at all - test it by taking a scant handful and pressing it together. If it doesn't stay together at all, add an extra egg to the food processor and pulse together again. If it does stay together but feels really dry, add another tablespoon or two of olive oil. Pulse together.

If the dough is one cohesive ball, there isn't enough flour. Remove from the food processor and place on floured countertop. Add one tablespoon of flour at a time as you kneed the dough together.

Cut the dough into eight pieces using a serrated knife. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine:
3.5 ounces spinach, cooked, chopped, and drained*
15 ounces ricotta cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2 whole eggs
3 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup minced white onion
2 teaspoons basil
1 teaspoon oregano
salt + pepper to taste

Mix together until evenly combined. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

*Weight is after spinach has been cooked and drained; I used one 10 ounce package of frozen spinach.

Steps 4 + 6
1. Remove one piece of dough from the refrigerator.
2. Roll out using the lasagna attachment and carefully follow the directions that come with your Pasta Machine. Remember to lightly sprinkle flour on the dough whenever it begins to go from tacky to sticky, as it will get stuck in your machine if you don't.
3. Lay flat on cloth towel.
4. Place 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) filling 3/4"-1" away from the left and top of the pasta. Place next dollop of filling 3/4"-1" from previous dollop of filling. Repeat until you run out of room. [Start by placing the filling further apart so that you can practice. As you get better, you can place it a little closer together.]
5. If necessary, use a pizza cutter to cut between every third dollop of filling.
6. Use a pastry brush to brush water over the edges of the pasta and between the filling.

Steps 7 through 10

7. Take the bottom edge of the pasta and pull over top of the filling.
8. Use your fingers to press the top edge and bottom edge together.
9. Starting in the middle and working your way out, press the dough between the filling together, pushing the air bubbles out.
10. Use the pizza cutter to cut out ravioli and trim the edges. [I cut about half of the ravioli out in half moons. The other half I cut into rectangles, making about half of those even fancier by trimming the edges with a pastry wheel. If you choose to do this, let the ravioli dry for about 10 minutes before using the pastry wheel so that there is a clean cut.)
11. Place on lightly floured piece of waxed paper or on dry hand towel.
12. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

Step 11

If you choose to freeze your ravioli, place them closely together on a cookie sheet, not letting them overlap. Place in freezer for 45-60 minutes before transferring to a freezer-safe bag.

If you choose to eat your ravioli right away, bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Place ravioli in boiling water for 4-5 minutes. You'll know they're done when they float to the top. Serve with Tomato Sauce or Alfredo Sauce.

Eat up!

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