Okay. You got me. That should be raviolo for just one pocket of stuffed pasta goodness. Language lesson aside, there’s nothing quite like thinly rolled out pieces of pasta dough that sandwich a filling of some sort. I grew up with ravioli making a regular occurrence on the dinner plate. The pasta pillows were frozen little pucks that, when cooked, boasted gooey fillings featuring cheese, herbs, and meat.
A little older, when I was in college, I graduated to ravioli with more exotic fillings. Still in a package from the freezer aisle, these ravioli were a little bigger and boasted fillings that included shitaki mushrooms or butternut squash and nutmeg. I would place them in boiling water, smother them in a cream sauce or olive oil, and call it dinner.
The internet, and television (which we watch on the internet) has shown me a whole new world of food. We have a mild addiction to Master Chef, and to attempting to meet the challenges presented to the contestants on the show (at least, the ones that just require a kitchen and some ingredients). We have a three year old, and consider his involvement or need or entertainment to be the timed portion of the challenge – if we can manage the meal at a reasonable dinner time and it tastes pretty good without looking like a pile of dog-do, we call it a win. Here’s where the ravioli get relevant: a few weeks ago, the contestants on Master Chef had to make Pasta Al Uovo: a ravioli stuffed with ricotta and an egg yolk. The ricotta makes a little chair for the egg yolk, and the yolk makes a sauce for the ravioli when cut into at the table. Just one or two of these with a little salad makes a rich, wholesome dinner that’s even toddler approved.
An aside: I’m not a big fan of waste. Recipes that call for separated eggs and don’t use both halves. This one at least is relatively easy – whip up the unused egg whites and make meringue cookies.
This recipe will make four or five ravioli, depending on their size. You may end up with a bit of extra ricotta mix. Keep it, and spread it on toast in the morning. Yum!
- Pasta Dough – Sam pulled a recipe from the internet. If you’re lucky enough to be able to get fresh pasta sheets in your area, great! I don’t recommend using wanton wrappers instead. Italian pasta dough generally includes egg, which creates a completely different texture and flavor from wanton wrappers. I’ve done this in the past, and I’ve always been disappointed.
- 1 cup ricotta
- 2 tbsp fresh herbs (we used parsley and a bit of oregano)
- dash of nutmeg
- 1/2 cup grated hard cheese such as Parmesan. Fresh stuff that was recently on a wheel. If you’ve never tried it, go buy some now. It’s pretty amazing stuff.
- 5 egg yolks
- Olive oil or melted butter for dressing
- Mix and roll out your pasta dough. Don’t be afraid if you don’t have a pasta roller – we don’t either. A rolling pin works pretty darn well. So does a bottle of tequila kept in the freezer. Cut the pasta sheets into to long strips about 4 inches wide. I like to use a pizza cutter for this.
- Set a large pot of well-salted water on to boil.
- Combine the ricotta, fresh herbs, nutmeg, most of the hard cheese (reserve a little for serving) with salt and pepper to taste.
- Here’s where the tricky part starts. Each raviolo will be about four inches in diameter, with about a half an inch of buffer for sealing. This leaves about three inches of diameter for the ricotta, or about a tablespoon and a half. Eyeball where the ravioli will be, and place the ricotta down. Make a little seat in the middle of each ricotta mound.
- Separate an egg. DO NOT BREAK YOUR YOLK!
- Gently place the yolk on a ricotta seat.
- Repeat for the remaining ravioli.
- Place the second sheet of pasta over the first, and gently start pressing down where the two sheets of dough meet to seal the ravioli.
- Finish sealing the ravioli. Seal them quite tightly. This process requires a fair bit of finesse and patience. Don’t break the yolk, but to make sure the ravioli are sealed tight.
- Place the ravioli in the boiling water. Be gentle. Let them cook for 3 or 4 minutes.
- Serve one or two ravioli with a bit of crumbled bacon and crispy sage for a rich, earthy, fall dinner.