Introduction by Tricia Wheeler
Originally printed in edible Columbus, Fall 2011
All photos by Catherine Murray
The earliest known reference to ravioli appears in the writings of Francesco di Marco, a merchant of Venice, in the 14th century. He made his ravioli with blanched herbs, mixed with beaten egg and fresh cheese. Little did he know his technique and flavor combinations would stand the test of time! Today, almost every culture (think pierogi and wonton) has it own version of pasta filled with varying combinations of cheese, herbs, spices and meats.
I chose a pasta with spinach because I love the color and taste—but you can experiment with plain pastas and other flavors until you find your favorite. If you use a simple filling like ricotta and herbs, feel free to use your favorite tomato sauce.
Pasta Verde (Green Pasta)
Recipe compliments of the French Culinary Institute
1½ cups (225 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
¼ cup (70 grams) cooked spinach, squeezed very dry and chopped very fine
Pinch of salt
1½ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Semolina flour for rolling (or all-purpose flour)
Filling of your choice
Sauce and toppings of your choice
Put the flour in the bowl of a food processor, or KitchenAid mixer fitted with the dough hook, and add eggs, spinach, salt and oil.
Process/mix until the dough forms a ball and is no longer sticky when touched with clean fingers. If necessary, add in a bit more flour, a little at a time.
Dust a work surface with semolina flour. Scrape the dough out onto the surface and knead it for approximately 5 minutes, until the texture is smooth and silky.
Divide the dough into 2 balls, sprinkle with flour and wrap in plastic.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Remove dough and allow it to warm up for about 10–15 minutes.
Ready a small bowl of water and pastry brush for sealing the cut-out dough.
Roll out dough by hand until very thin, or run through a pasta machine according to the directions for very thin pasta. (This is where more hands help! If you have a big group of helpers, double or triple the recipe.)
Using a 3- or 3½-inch round cutter (or a glass, or a specialty round or square ravioli cutter) cut dough into rounds (cut very closely together to maximize dough.) Cover ravioli with a moist towel and repeat with other ball of dough.
Working pretty quickly—and keeping dough covered with a moist towel—place a small spoonful of filling in middle of half of the ravioli circles. Brush edges with a little water; top each with another circle of dough. Push out all air bubbles around the filling and then press edges together to seal.
Crimp edges, using the tines of a fork or a commercial crimper, to further seal the ravioli.
If not cooking immediately, put ravioli in a single layer on a cookie sheet dusted with semolina flour. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to cook.
You can freeze extra ravioli, in a single layer, in a zip-lock freezer bag.
Heat a large pot of water to boiling. Carefully place ravioli into water. The ravioli will cook in 3 to 4 minutes. Carefully remove from the water with a slotted spoon. At this point, you are ready for your favorite sauce, or try it my favorite way:
Place 5–6 ravioli in a bowl and top with your favorite cheese, a sprinkling of herbs and, my favorite, toasted pine nuts!
Some great, easy ravioli fillings:
Roasted Acorn Squash with Mascarpone
Cut Acorn squash in half. Place cut side down on a cookie sheet with sides. Add ½ inch of water around squash and roast in a 400° oven until soft, about 30 minutes. Let the squash cool for about 15 minutes, scoop squash out of skin and combine with ¼ cup mascarpone and season to taste with salt.
Collard Greens with Scallions
Clean collard greens and remove ribs. Cook in salted boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain. Heat two tablespoons olive oil and sauté scallions and collards over medium heat until done. (Use leftover bacon fat instead of olive oil, if you have some, to add more flavor.) You can also substitute any other hearty greens in place of collards. (See ‘A Home Cook’s Diary’ on page XXX for more information on local greens.)
Your Favorite Local Sausage
One of my personal favorites is Bluescreek Sausage. You’ll find them in the North Market! Mince sausage as finely as possible and sauté with a little sprinkle of cayenne pepper until done. Set aside to cool
The dough should feel like dough but not stick to your fingers. If it is sticky, it needs more flour; if it is dry and not holding together, it needs more water.
It is important to rest the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to let the gluten relax.
After resting, the dough will sometimes still feel a little sticky and will need to be sprinkled with flour.
You can use a rolling pin to roll out dough, if you do not have a pasta machine—it just takes some muscle! It can be easier to roll out smaller pieces at a time.