Say Cheese! Ravioli

say-cheese-ravioli-recipeBecause it’s so easy to make, fresh pasta is a great family cooking project. Plus, it has a wonderfully delicate texture you just can’t find in store-bought varieties.

If you plan to make fresh pasta on a regular basis, you can’t beat a pasta machine, which allows you to crank the dough though the rollers to just the right thickness. The result is a fine sheet of tasty pasta that can be cut into numerous shapes and filled as we do here. Of course, if you don’t have a pasta machine, you can always roll the pasta by hand. Simply dust the dough lightly with flour and roll it as thinly as you can. Go easy, though, because too much flour will dry out the pasta. Either way, you’ll need a clean, uncluttered work surface.

What you’ll need

  • PASTA:
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus 2 teaspoons for the cooking water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon for the cooking water
  • 1 quart tomato sauce, heated
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Pinch of nutmeg

How to make it

  1. Make the pasta: Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and toss well. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the eggs, water, and 2 teaspoons of oil. Blend the liquids well with a fork. Then, using your hand, gradually mix the flour into the well by pulling it into the liquid with quick strokes. Don’t worry if the dough sticks to your fingers; keep blending until it forms a firm, if somewhat shaggy, mass. On a surface lightly dusted with flour, knead the dough for 3 to 4 minutes. Place the dough in a plastic bag and set it aside for 20 minutes.
  2. Mix the filling: While the dough rests, combine all of the filling ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. After 20 minutes, remove the dough from the plastic bag and dust it with flour. Flatten the dough with your hand, then start feeding it through the rollers of a pasta machine. Start with the thickest setting, then decrease the thickness one notch with each progressive pass, until the dough is almost paper thin.
  3. Assemble the ravioli: Using a 2- to 2-1/4-inch biscuit or cookie cutter (or a clean tomato paste can), cut out as many circles as you can. Then reroll the scraps and cut out more. Loosely cover most of the dough with plastic wrap to prevent drying. Put a scant teaspoon of filling in the center of one circle, then lightly dampen the perimeter with a fingertip dipped in water. Dampen the edge of a second circle and place it atop the first one. Now carefully pick up the two circles and pinch the edges together to seal the ravioli. Continue making ravioli this way, setting each finished one on a flour-dusted baking sheet and keeping them loosely covered with plastic wrap until cooking time.
  4. To cook the ravioli, bring about 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 2 teaspoons of salt to the water. Add the ravioli and boil gently for about 4 minutes (fresh pasta cooks quickly). Carefully drain the ravioli (they will be fragile) and blot them lightly with paper towels. Serve at once with tomato sauce. Makes 4 to 5 servings.

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