I love making pasta from scratch. The thing is…I was always with a chef or an experienced pasta maker, so there was no fear as to how it could come out in the end. I decided to go crazy one rocking Saturday night…and make three kinds of pasta from scratch. For the next three blogs, I will put together a recipe for each kind that I made…since we are approaching the “comfort food” season of Fall. What is more comforting than pasta?
As you all know, I “love me some colorful food”…so I began by making spinach pasta ravioli. The best part of making my own pasta from scratch…is how rustic and imperfect it looks. You can see the wrinkles in it as it’s served…the soft, spinachy taste of freshly made and cooked pasta mingling in with the savory herbs and comforting bite of each pocket of pasta…with a hint of spinach and I consume this beautiful piece of culinary artwork.
I highly recommend making your own pasta. Tough week at work….let’s get out our frustrations on the cutting board and rough up some dough! I met a wonderfully sarcastic, and snappy woman in Italy named Robertina, who owned an Italian restaurant in Orvieto. She made pasta there every day. This was in 2003, so I wasn’t much of a cook back then. I told her that I always wanted to make my own pasta. She told me, in her thick Italian accent, “You’d a better not a use that KitchenAid to work the dough! You can use it to cut the pasta…that’s a ok…but you work the dough like a your ancestors did! Make that promise to me!”. I did. I told her I would…laughing to myself thinking I would probably never get around to making my own pasta. Well Robertina….here I am…and I kept my promise to you. You know what? I liked it. I liked taking the extra time to work the dough. It reminded what my ancestors did for years…how much love and hard work they put a wonderfully comforting meal on the table for their family and friends. I will make the time to do this!
As always, I will offer all of my readers a substitute. If you truly don’t have the time, just buy the already made ravioli and use the recipe for the sauce….but at least once in your lifetime…if you love food…I highly recommend this experience.
All you need is flour, sea salt, a few eggs and for special pastas….a coloring with real food, such as spinach, squid ink, red roasted peppers, etc. As you make pasta more and more…you will get used to working the dough and you will know when it’s ready. Make sure you cover it with plastic wrap and leave it aside out of the refrigerator to allow the gluten to do it’s job..and make a flavorful, memorable meal for the ones you love! Mangia Bene! <3
Spinach Ravioli Stuffed w/Goat Cheese, Thyme & Lemon Zest w/Italian Cream Sauce
1 cup fresh spinach (stems removed, sautéed and squeezed dry)
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 large egg
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup goat cheese
1 bunch of thyme (chopped)
salt & pepper to taste
zest of half a lemon
1/2 cup light cream
1/4 cup pecorino cheese (grated)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese (grated)
1/4 tsp hot sauce
2 tsp chopped fresh sage
zest of half a lemon
egg white (used to seal the ravioli)
Mix the flour and sea salt and place the mixture in the center of a cutting board and create a well that is 4 inches across in the middle, allowing flour to be on the bottom. Place the two egg yolks in the middle of the well. In a hot saute pan, place the spinach and some salt in pepper, until the spinach is wilted. Squeeze the spinach in a paper towel or kitchen towel to remove as much liquid as possible. Then place the spinach and one egg in the food processor for 2 minutes until it is liquified.
Pour the spinach mixture in the middle of the well and start to mix the eggs and spinach in the middle of the well. Gradually, with the fork, work in a little flour at a time while continually mixing in the flour until it starts to become a stiffer consistency. Then, use your hands for the rest of the process. Take a handful of dough at a time and continually fold the dough over and over on itself until you are able to shape it into a ball. Cover the ball with plastic wrap and allow it to sit for 30 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine the goat cheese, chopped thyme leaves, salt, pepper and lemon zest. Set aside.
Once the dough is ready to be rolled, use the pasta attachment of your Kitchen Aid or hand cranked pasta maker. Roll the dough to fit in the pasta attachment at the setting 1, then go to the next setting until you get to setting 8. Once the pasta is rolled to a thin, flat consistency, place on a cutting board. Use a ravioli cutter (circular or square) and make as many cuts as you can in the rolled pasta. Once you are finished separating the cuts from the rest of the pasta, put them side by side in an even number of pairs. Take a teaspoon of the filling and place it in each ravioli pocket. Seal the sides of the unfilled ravioli piece with the egg white using your finger or with a pastry brush. Boil some salted water and place the ravioli in the water for a few minutes until they float to the top. Scoop them out and let them dry.
In a hot saute pan, pour in the cream, salt, pepper and hot sauce and mix thoroughly and allow it to heat up before it comes to a boil. Stir in the parmesan and pecorino cheese and stir until the cheese is melted. Fold in the lemon zest.
Pour the cheese sauce on the bottom of the place. Place 3-4 raviolis on each plate. Chop the sage leaves and sprinkle on the top. Place the lemon wedge on the side of the place. Squeeze the lemon on each ravioli and enjoy!