Ravioli (Italian pronunciation: [raˈvjɔːli]; singular: raviolo) are a type of dumpling comprising a filling enveloped in thin pasta dough. Usually served in broth (commonly called “tortellini”) or with a sauce (typically tomatoes sauce or ragu’ sauce) they originated as a traditional food in Italian cuisine. Traditionally, ravioli are made at home and their filling varies according to the area where they are prepared. For instance in the north of Italy the filling is usually made with beef and charcuteries (mortadella or prosciutto crudo) or pumpkin and Amaretti cookies. In the middle Italy the most common filling is ricotta cheese, spinach, nutmeg and black pepper. In Sardinia instead, ravioli are filled with ricotta and grated lemon rind.
Ravioli can also have different shapes: circular, rhomboid, square. The ravioli my grandma taught me to make are more “triangle shaped” and the filling she made was extremely good but everytime made with different ingredients (depending of what leftover she found in the refrigerator) so I inherited the technique to make the ravioli, but as for the filling, I had to experiment before to find my favorite one, and I have to tell you that my first choice is the classic version with ricotta cheese and spinach, which is also the easiest to prepare worldwide, since the simplicity of the ingredients needed. I would say that once you have mastered the ability of making the pasta, to prepare this delicious ravioli won’t take more than an hour, and the good thing is that you can prepare ravioli whenever you have free time, freeze them once filled, and cooked them (still frozen) whenever you decide you would like eating them!
Ingredients for about 24 big or 48 small ravioli
FOR THE DOUGH
2 eggs and 1 yolk (about 124 gr.)
1 1/3 cup (200 gr.) all purpose flour
FOR THE FILLING
about 3 tbs. olive oil
1/2 cup (125 gr.) ricotta cheese
1 bag (8 oz. or 130 gr.) fresh spinach
1.5 oz. (50 gr.) finely grated parmesan
1 garlic clove
1/4 small white onion
sea salt to taste
black pepper to taste
nut meg to taste
FOR THE DRESSING
melted unsalted butter to taste
fresh or powdered sage to taste
PREPARE THE DOUGH: In a bowl combine the flour with the beaten eggs. Stir the mix first with a fork and once the eggs are absorbed, start kneading by hand in a floured surface for about five minutes (read my post about the secret method for a perfect home made pasta to learn the right kneading technique). You know that the dough is ready only when it looks shiny and homogenous, not too dry or too wet and sticky, and only if when you apply a hole with your finger, the dough comes up right away. If the dough sounds too wet, add a bit of flour. If it sounds too dry, rub it with few drops of warm water and keep kneading. When the dough it’s ready, shape it an a ball and wrap it up in plastic paper. Let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (while you are preparing the filling).
PREPARE THE FILLING:
In a pan, heat at medium heat the olive oil, the onion finely chopped and the garlic. Once the onion gets translucent, and always at medium heat, add the spinach (previously washed and well dried), a pinch of salt and pepper and a dust of nutmeg. Let cook for about five minutes, stirring continuously to avoid burning.
Take away the garlic and let the spinach cooling off in strainer, so they will loose all their water (apply some pressure with your fingers if necessary). Try to get rid off the ricotta water by placing it in another strainer.
Cut finely the spinach and in a bowl mix it with the drained ricotta, grated parmesan and egg yolk and – if needed – adjust with some more salt, pepper and nut meg. Mix the ingredients very well and set aside for later.
MAKE THE RAVIOLI
Cut your ball of pasta in two. Keep one half and wrap the other in plastic paper and place it in the refrigerator. With the first slice, and using a pasta roller, make two sheets of pasta 1/8 inch thick.
Using my pasta machine, I roll the pasta slice out progressively, beginning with the dial on the first (thickest) setting (#0), then put it through again on the following numbers until one last time through on the eight (#8) setting. It’s very likely that the slice becomes too long around number five (#5): just cut the slice in two before proceeding to the next setting. When you get to the last setting (#8), dust your working surface with semolina flour so the slices of pasta won’t stick to the surface when filled with the spinach mix. Don’t skip this part, it’s very important!
Now, using a measuring teaspoon, arrange a tsp. of spinach filling along one of the pasta slice in a zig-zag pattern. Carefully and possibly by using a cooking brush, brush the area around the spinach with water and flip the other pasta slice on top of the filled one, using your finger to eliminate all the air.
Using a cooking rolling cutter, shape your ravioli. It doesn’t really matter what shape you pick, what matters is that the sides of the ravioli are very well closed and free of any air (otherwise they will break once put into boiling water to cook).
COOKING AND SERVING THE RAVIOLI
Bring a big pot of water to boiling point. Poor about 15 ravioli at a time in the boiling water and let them cook for about 5 minutes. While the ravioli cooks, in a large pan melt 3 tbs. unsalted butter and few sage leaves (or about 2 tps. powdered sage). I prefer using powdered sage because it leaves a wonderful flavor without any “piece of green” in the plate (and that is essential if I want my kids to eat the ravioli). Using an holed ladle take the cooked ravioli out of the water into the buttered pan, stir them gently to spread the butter evenly, and serve the ravioli still warm with a dust of parmesan cheese.
TIPS: – You can freeze the ravioli and cook them still frozen. It will take few more minutes to get cooked, but will taste wonderful anyway.
– When you are done shaping the ravioli, and you place them in a floured (with semolina) tray, wait at least 20-30 minutes to cook them, so they will dry a bit and more likely keep their filling when you cook them.
– You can fill the ravioli with different fillings, but make sure the filling is never too wet to avoid ruining the dough.
– Spinach and ricotta cheese ravioli have a very delicate taste, but if you’d like a more tasty dish, dress the ravioli with Italian tomatoes sauce.
I really hope you enjoyed my recipe this week, and I also hope that (besides my bad English), I was able to explain you the method as clear as possible. Please, If you have any question, of if you just would like to give me a feedback, leave a comment, or a like, and support my blog!