Playing with Pasta

I love having time to make fresh pasta at home. There’s really nothing better, and it’s fairly easy, but time consuming. I’ve been eyeing the jar of butternut squash puree that I had in the freezer, leftover from making a risotto a couple of months ago. It kept calling out to me to make it into ravioli. So yesterday, I made it happen. And why make plain ravioli when you can make tri-color ravioli? This is a super fun and beautiful pasta. I started by making three batches of pasta; one plain, one with spinach, and one with tomato. Over the years, I have altered my pasta recipe from this one, and lately I have been using Helen Rennie’s pasta recipe which uses more precise weights. But my scale is currently packed away during our kitchen remodel, so I had to wing it. The base recipe I used was 2 cups flour, 1 tsp (more or less) salt, 2 whole eggs, 4 egg yolks. I also sometimes use about 1/2 semolina flour and 1/2 all purpose flour, but this time I used all AP. There are really no hard and fast rules. You just need a good flour to liquid ratio, and you will get a feel for this over time. If this is your first time making pasta, use the weight method.
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For the spinach pasta, start with the basic recipe, and add about 1/2 of a 16 oz bag of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and very well drained (squeeze as much water out of it as you can), then give it a whirl in the food processor to chop up as fine as you can get it. For the tomato pasta, add 2-3 tbsp of tomato paste in with the eggs. For both, you might find you need a little more flour, since both of these ingredients add moisture. I had to add quite a bit more to the spinach version. Alternately, you can use fewer eggs.

After you have made the pasta and let it rest for 1/2 hour, roll out each color of pasta on the largest setting of your pasta machine (I use a Kitchen Aid roller, but have used a hand-roller in the past). You will have 12 pieces of pasta. Stack them all together, using a tiny bit of water in between to help them stick together. Then cut a piece off the end, about 1/2 inch wide. Turn on its side, flatten out a bit with your hand, and run through the pasta machine again on the largest setting. Keep rolling through until you reach about #7 on the machine. Make sure to keep the stacked pasta covered with plastic while you’re rolling out your strips, so that it doesn’t dry out.

For shaping the ravioli, I use a metal ravioli mold, since this gives me even sized raviolis with very little waste. But you can also use a ravioli stamp, a cookie cutter, or even just a knife to cut the shapes out. Just make sure to put a little bit of water in between the two sheets to help them stick together, and push out all of the air in the ravioli to avoid explosions once you cook them.

If you’re cooking the raviolis immediately, as you form them put them on a sheet of parchment paper dusted with flour (AP or semolina) on a baking sheet and cover with a kitchen towel. If you’re freezing them, skip the towel. Put them in the freezer on the baking sheet. Once frozen, pop them into a plastic bag in 1-2 serving portions.
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To cook, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add enough salt so that the water tastes like the sea. Add the raviolis and cook for just 2-3 minutes. Taste one for doneness. I like to serve the ones with squash filling with a simple brown butter and sage sauce. For ricotta and spinach filling, I like a tomato sauce. The combinations are really endless!

 

2 Comments

  1. Very nice Valery!

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