Is there anything more heavenly than soft pasta pillows filled with the warm delicious cheese, steaming in a shallow bowl, ready to be eaten? Yes, it is said soft pillows on a fork on its way to my mouth.
My good friend EJG came over this week for a pasta-making adventure. We set out with two goals in mind: to make a delicious ravioli and to drink copious amounts of wine. Both were accomplished. We handmade each one individually, filled them with two different kinds of filling. One was a lemony ricotta basil mixture (bottom picture) dressed simply with olive oil, salt, pepper, and basil. The other was a sweet creamed corn (top picture) with shaved parmesan, arugula, and corn. Both were simple, delicious, and so so flavorful. If I could marry them, I would.
[Setting up my pasta making: iPad, check. Red Wine, check. Everything else, check.]
For the pasta dough:
- 1.5 cups all purpose flour, and more for dusting
- 3 large eggs
With a fork, slowly beat the eggs in the middle of the flour mixture, incorporating more of the flour bit by bit until it becomes a shaggy mess. At this point, stick your hand in there and start to knead the dough until it becomes one solid piece. Transfer the dough ball (which should be lumpy) to a floured work surface and start to knead. Knead for about 3 minutes, adding more flour if the dough sticks, and then let it rest. At this point, my dough was still kind of lumpy and I was freaking out, but letting the gluten rest will allow for it to relax a bit. Come back and knead it some more. Let it rest. Repeat this until your dough is a smooth consistency throughout.
I used my Atlas pasta maker to roll out the sheets initially, but you could just as easily do this with a rolling pin. Roll the sheets out until they are almost translucent. This is rather hard, so treat the pasta dough delicately, since you don't want it to rip. Flour the surface liberally as you roll it out, and don't be afraid to use a dough scraper to wrangle that rascally dough in!
After rolling out the dough into a long thin sheet, brush with egg mixed with water to create a sort of glue. Dollop the fillings (recipes below) onto the pasta dough, about 1 inch apart. Place another long thin sheet on top of this and seal the edges well. Using a pizza cutter, ravioli cutter, or in our case, a glass beer sampling cup from Harpoon brewery, cut out the raviolis one by one.
This whole process took us about an hour or so. We placed the done raviolis on a tray and froze them in the meantime. When you're ready to start cooking them, drop these little guys into salted boiling water for about 3 minutes, or until they float up to the top. Be sure to salt the water liberally. It will make it taste better, trust me! If not eating immediately, throw them into a ziplock bag and freeze.
Lemon Ricotta Filling (Makes about 4 cups worth of filling)
In a food processor or blender, combine the following ingredients:
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- big glug of olive oil
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 1 cup basil leaves
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp mustard seeds (optional)
- dash of salt (we will add more later)
Blend until it becomes somewhat paste-like, but don't worry if it is still quite chunky. Take a whiff. Does it smell lemony? Good! Fold this mixture into 2 cups of fresh ricotta. Salt and Pepper this liberally, about 1 tbsp salt. Don't be afraid to taste this and adjust to your liking.
Sweet Corn and Ricotta Filling (Makes about 3 cups)
In a medium sized saucepan, sautee the following over medium heat:
- 1 cup corn kernels (appx. 2 ears of corn)
- 1/2 cup cream
- 1 tsp sugar
- dash of salt, pepper
Once this is fragrant and starts to thicken, let it cool. If chunks of corn bother you, you could blend this slightly so that it becomes more of a paste. Then, pour it into a bowl and fold it into 1 cup of ricotta, 2 tsp parmesan cheese, and 1 egg. Place the filling into the fridge to cool and set before using, about 30 min.