I've been wanting to tackle homemade pasta for a while so on Sunday I invited my sister and her fiancé over to be my guinea pigs for what turned out to be a spectacular meal. Just today Carrie told me that her and fiancé have been dreaming about it for the past three days. It was that good.
I don't have a pasta-maker per se, but I do have a wonderfully-willing-to-help husband who did all the rolling/cutting/filling of the dough. All I had to do was make the dough and the filling! His take? Homemade ravioli is a perfect way to impress your friends and relatives, but not suitable for the average weeknight meal, usually eaten in the company of Alex Trebek.
I got the ravioli dough recipe from Smitten Kitchen, the filling recipe from my own noggin, and the vodka sauce recipe from a good friend's Italian mother. She dictated it to me years ago when I participated in my first July 4th family cookoff (I came in 2nd place that time); I've been meaning to type up the handwritten recipe that's mostly illegible from spilling water/oil on it so many times.
Spinach and Fresh Mozzarella Ravioli
Dough (from Smitten Kitchen):
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp water
4-5 oz fresh baby spinach
1/2 small onion, minced
~5 oz mini fresh mozzarella balls (I used Bel Gioioso's Ciliegine size)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
extra shredded mozzarella, if needed
red pepper flakes
2 egg whites, beaten with 4 tsp water (for egg wash)
To make the dough, mound the flour on a work surface and make a good-size well in the center. Add eggs, salt, and water to the well. Beat the eggs and water until combined, then slowly add flour in from the sides of the well. Once the dough has formed, knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes), adding drops of water if it's too dry, or more flour if too sticky. Leave on the surface and let sit for about an hour, covered with an inverted bowl.
When the dough is ready, roll it out on a large, lightly floured work surface (we used our dining room table). You'll want to roll it out pretty thin, so keep working at it. My estimate would be that it was only 2-3 millimeters thick in the end. If you have a fancy ravioli cutter, now would be the time to use it. Otherwise, use a pizza cutter like we did and cut 2.5 inch squares out of the dough. Re-roll out scraps to get as many ravioli squares as possible.
To make the filling, sauté the onions in a little olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and wilt for a couple minutes. Remove from heat and chop if you want. If too wet, squeeze dry in a kitchen towel or paper towel. Let spinach/onion mixture cool for a little bit, then add in the parmesan, and salt/pepper/red pepper flakes to taste. If the filling looks a bit wet, add some more parmesan or shredded mozz. Cut the fresh mozz balls in half, then set aside.
Place a fresh mozz ball half in the center of half the ravioli squares, then add about a teaspoon of filling (or whatever amount seems to make sense for your ravioli size; may take a try or two). Brush a bit of egg wash around the edges of the dough, then place a second square on top, pressing firmly to force out air and seal all edges. Cover with a towel until ready to cook.
Cook the ravioli for 5-7 minutes in salted water at a gentle boil. Raviolis will float to the surface when done, so don't crowd them! You may need to cook in a couple batches. Serve with your favorite sauce (recipe for vodka sauce below).
Claudia's Vodka Sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium onion, minced
1 large stalk celery, minced
1 bunch asparagus, chopped to about 1/4" pieces (you can substitute pretty much any veggie here. Claudia's original recipe calls for shiitake mushrooms, but you can also use spinach, broccoli, etc.)
1/8 lb. prosciutto, diced (this time, I didn't have prosciutto on hand so I removed 2 pork sausage links from their casing and used those instead; delicious!!)
1/3 cup vodka
1 28-oz can whole tomatoes, passed through a blender
3/4 cup heavy cream
red pepper flakes
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp butter
In a deep skillet, heat olive oil until hot over moderate heat. Add garlic, onion, celery, and prosciutto/sausage. If you're using mushrooms you'd want to add those now too. Cook, stirring occasionally until they are pale golden, about 5-7 minutes.
Add vodka and simmer 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, heavy cream, salt and red pepper flakes to taste and simmer, stirring occasionally, 20-25 minutes.
Add asparagus, basil, parsley, and butter. Simmer 3 minutes more. Serve over ravioli.