how to make ravioli at home
I don’t profess to be an expert at pasta-making but having made a rather fine batch of ravioli yesterday (after failing miserably in the past), I can offer some useful hints and tips to get it perfect first time round. It actually isn’t all that hard to do, it just requires a bit of elbow grease, a little organisation and a lot of patience.
– use good ingredients: 00 (doppio zero) flour and the best, freshest eggs you can find
– make the pasta dough first, letting it rest for at least an hour in the fridge before use
– when making small quantities of pasta dough at home, it is preferable to make the pasta by hand as it will be difficult for a food processor to mix well
– allow the filling to cool completely before stuffing your pasta – hot filling wets the pasta making it susceptible to breaking
– don’t roll out your pasta sheets too far in advance as they will dry out, making it less malleable and difficult to work with (if the pasta sheets need to sit around for any amount of time, cover with a damp cloth
– the ‘8’ setting on the pasta machine is good for ravioli, although going finer to ‘9’ would be ideal if making ravioli served in a bisque or consommé
– when rolling out your pasta, if it gets too long and hard to manage cut into smaller strips and work in batches
Aubergine and Mozzarella Ravioli
(recipe adapted from Giorgio Locatelli’s Made in Italy)
4 large aubergines
4 garlic cloves, sliced thickly
250g buffalo mozzarella
4 sprigs rosemary, cut in half
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 quantity of fresh egg pasta dough (recipe below)
1 egg, beaten
for the sauce:
85ml extra virgin olive oil
3 tomatoes, peeled, quartered and deseeded
2 tbsp fresh basil, roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 220°C.
Half the aubergines lengthwise, then score the flesh deeply with a sharp knife in a criss-cross pattern. Push 2-3 garlic pieces and a half sprig of rosemary into the cuts of each aubergine. Place cut side up on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the flesh is soft.
In the meantime, roughly dice the mozzarella and leave to drain in a colander. When ready, remove the aubergines from the oven and discard the garlic and rosemary. Using a metal spoon, scoop out the flesh and also place in a colander to drain. Once cool, chop finely and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat and gently sweat the shallots for a few minutes. Add the aubergine and tomato paste and cook for a further minute. If the aubergines are still quite wet, cook a little longer to evaporate the liquid. Season to taste then leave to cool completely.
Roll out your pasta sheets (as detailed in the pasta dough recipe below). Brush half of the strip of pasta with beaten egg, then place 1 tsp of the aubergine mixture and a cube of mozzarella on the egg-washed side, and repeat, leaving about 3-4cm between each mound of filling. You should be able to fit about 10 mounds per strip.
Carefully fold the other half of pasta over the top and fresh them together gently around each raviolo. Using a ring cutter (with a circumference about 1 cm larger than the filling), cut out your ravioli. Seal each raviolo carefully by pinching around the edges with your finger and thumb, pressing out any air that may have been trapped inside. Repeat with remaining pasta sheets.
Now time to make the sauce. Place the olive oil and tomatoes in a pan and heat gently. While the tomatoes are cooking, boil some water in a large pot and cook the ravioli for about 3 minutes. Once the tomatoes start breaking down stop cooking and add the basil.
When ready to serve add the cooked ravioli to the pan with a couple spoonfuls of cooking water and heat through (be very gentle as the cooked ravioli are quite fragile). Add an extra few glugs of extra virgin olive oil and season to taste. Serve immediately with your favourite bottle of red.
Fresh Egg Pasta Dough
makes about 400g
300g ‘00’ pasta flour
3 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
Sift the flour into a clean bowl, then turn it out onto a clean work surface so it forms a mound. Make a well in the centre, sprinkle over a pinch salt, then add the eggs and egg yolks into the well.
Break the yolks with the fingertips of one hand, then move your fingertips in a circular motion, gradually incorporating the flour, until you have worked in enough that it starts forming a ball. Knead the ball of dough by pushing it with the heel of your hand, then folding back on itself, turning it a little to the right, then repeat continuously for about 10 minutes, wetting your hands a little if it helps, until the dough is springy and smooth, but still quite firm and difficult to work.
Don’t worry if the dough feels hard – it will loosen and soften while it rests. Separate the dough into two balls, wrap each in a damp cloth, then allow to rest in the fridge for about an hour before use.
Rolling the pasta:
Uncover the first ball of dough and roll with a rolling pin until it is about 1cm thick and will go through the pasta machine comfortably. You don’t want it to be too thick as it could damage your machine and squeeze out too much moisture from the pasta, drying it out.
Put the machine on the first (thickest) then feed the piece of pasta through the machine, turning the handle with one hand and supporting the dough as it comes through the rollers, with the other. Repeat process, taking the setting on your machine down one step each time, until you reach the fourth setting. The pasta may appear slightly streaky which is fine – the streaks will disappear as you keep rolling it.
After the pasta has gone through the fourth setting, fold the strip of pasta in half (back on itself), put the machine back on its first setting and feed the pasta through. Repeat the process again 3-4 more times, again taking the setting down a notch each time, you will see the pasta beginning to develop a sheen. As the pasta gets longer, you may have to pull it gently, so that it doesn’t fold too much on itself. Don’t be tempted to dust it with flour, unless it is getting too soft and starting to stretch a lot.
At this point cut your strips in half. Put one half under the damp cloth, then fold the length of the other strip into 3, bringing one end in and the other over the top of that, so that the pasta is the same width as the machine. Roll it with the rolling pin to about 5mm thickness, then feed the pasta through the machine on its first setting – this time widthways not lengthways (changing direction puts equal elasticity and stretch in the pasta). Again, repeat the feeding process, taking it down 2-3 settings as you go.
Finally, fold the pasta back on itself, then with the machine back on the first setting, feed the pasta through, repeating, taking it down again through the settings until it reached the eighth setting (about 1.5mm thick). Your pasta sheets should be nice and shiny, with no lines in it. It is best to use each sheet as soon as it is ready to make some of your ravioli, before rolling out the rest of your dough to make the remaining ravioli.
note: you can use this pasta recipe for normal pasta – just cut the sheets into strips of your desired width by hand, or using the cutter attachment on your machine.