We’ve made pasta by hand three nights in the past week. Having made David Lebovitz’s Herbed pasta as a side to the delicious Belgian Stew with beer we had last weekend, and remembering how easy and fun making pasta by hand is, we’ve become a little obsessed this week. There was a simple fettuccine with garlic and brown butter and then there was spaghetti Bolognese and last night, moving up the scale of effort, there was ravioli.
Don’t be intimated by making pasta or even ravioli at home. The process is fairly quick and once you get the hang of it, you can make your dough in the time it takes to boil the water. I picked up this inexpensive ravioli maker years ago – it is so simple to use and makes perfect ravioli!
My girls had a good time making the sheets of pasta, cranking the machine and making sure the dough didn’t dry out too much. There were many giggles while kneading the dough and working together to feed it into the pasta machine. They quickly learned that the end had to be relatively thin to get the dough started in the machine, and that if it was too thick, it was really hard to crank.
They created beautiful long sheets of pasta to use with the ravioli mold. Then they carefully spooned the filling into each indentation and covered it with another sheet of pasta before rolling out perfect little pouches. They were a good team and made about 4 dozen raviolis.
While the kitchen table became the assembly line for the pasta making efforts, the counter became a bruschetta bar. Because, you know, the workers get hungry making all those sheets of pasta, filling them and rolling them into perfect little pouches.
In addition to tomatoes, basil and mozzarella, one of my favorite variations is to grill thinly sliced zucchini, give it a good dousing of olive oil with mint and lemon juice, and serve it with fresh Burrata on toasted bread.
Bruschetta with Zucchini and Mint
1/4 cup fresh mint, cleaned and chipped fine
Juice of 1 medium lemon
Salt and Pepper, to taste
2 zucchinis, sliced thinly length ways, (by hand or using a mandolin)
1 Italian Bread cut into 1-1 1/2″ slices
1 Burrata, buffalo mozzarella, about 8 oz.
• In a small bowl add the oil, mint, and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
• Brush one side of the zucchini slices with olive oil and place on the grill oil side down and cook until dark grill marks appear, about 5 minutes. Brush the top side with oil and flip the piece over on the grill and continue to cook until dark grill marks appear. Transfer each piece as it finishes to a large plate.
• Once all the zucchini slices have been grilled, pour the oil, mint and lemon vinaigrette over them.
• Brush the bread slices with oil and grill on both sides until crispy.
• To serve, add a spoonful of Burrata to the grilled bread, add a few slices of zucchini, and drizzle with additional olive oil, if desired.
Ravioli with Asparagus
Ingredients for the Ravioli Filling
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped fine and toasted
1 cup Ricotta cheese, firm, drained
1 egg yolk
3 tbs freshly grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Ingredients for the Pasta Dough
2 cups “00” flour
2 egg yolks
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbs water (or more if needed)
Ingredients for the Asparagus
1 bunch asparagus, sliced diagonally in thirds
1 garlic clove, sliced thin
1/4 cup fresh sage leaves
6 tbs butter, divided into thirds (2 tbs each)
1. Make the filling.
• In a heavy duty frying pan, over medium high heat, add the walnuts to the dry pan and cook until golden and fragrant, about 1-2 minutes, being careful not to burn them.
• In a medium bowl, combine the toasted walnuts, ricotta, egg and parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
2. Make the pasta dough.
• Combine the flour, eggs, yolks and salt in a large bowl. Add the water and begin mixing the dough with a fork. Once it is well combined, begin working the dough with your hands (you may need to add a little more water if the dough is too dry or add more flour if it is too wet- a teaspoon at a time for each) and form into four large balls.
• Working with one piece of dough at a time, flatten one of the balls into an oblong shaped piece and starting at the widest setting on a pasta machine (0) run the dough through twice on each setting until you reach (7) or about 5mm thick.
• Lay the sheet over the ravioli mold and using the top mold press to make the indentations for the filling. Slice off any extra dough and if long enough, save it for the top, or refold into a ball to keep reusing.
• Add the filling to the indentations, 1/2-3/4 tsp of filling for each ravioli.
• Add another sheet of dough on top of the filled ravioli and using a rolling pin, roll over the mold to cut the pieces.
• Set the filled ravioli aside to dry while you repeat the process until you are out of filling/dough.
3. Make the asparagus.
• In a large sauté pan over medium high heat, add 2 tbs of butter and melt gently until foaming, 1-2 minutes. Add asparagus and garlic and toss until coated, cook 2-4 minutes until brightly green and still crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
• Add 2 tbs butter and melt gently until foaming, 1-2 minutes. Add the sage leaves and fry until crisp, 1-2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
• Keep the pan handy, there is no need to wash this yet as you will mix the pasta and asparagus here.
Put it all together
In a large pot, boil salted water. Add the ravioli and cook until al dente, 3-5 minutes. Remove the ravioli with a slotted spoon and place onto a plate. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water to add to the pasta sauce.
Add the remaining 2 tbs butter to the sauté pan and melt gently. Transfer the asparagus, pasta and cooking water to the pan. Toss well to combine over medium heat.
Serve hot topped with the fried sage and add some freshly grated parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Hope you will try it and will let me know how it turns out! Buon Appetito!