Yesterday was National Ravioli Day. In researching this, I found out there are all kinds of national food days and I look forward to celebrating National Spinach Day next week.
This recipe looks long and complicated. It’s not. The way I save myself time is that I take one day to just make ravioli and freeze them. Then it’s a matter of boiling water, and making a very quick sauce or flavored browned butter. This was a quick lunch, and I’m hoping that readers will see that you can enjoy a pasta lunch that is delicious yet not very heavy or large portioned.
This year I have ventured into new food territory on many levels, making more desserts in a month than I used to in a year and indulging in frequent homemade ravioli. I used to be intimidated by ravioli because it is not a pasta you can fake. It must be made thin enough to be doubled up and not gummy and tough; and it has to be thick enough to hold its ingredients and not fall apart. And, this could be a challenge as I do all of my pasta and ravioli with a hand-crank atlas by OMC Mercato from Italy. (Editor’s Note: I now use a Kitchen Aid with the Pasta Roller Attachment. Both work well).
You can find out more about this very simple machine and all the possible attachments you can purchase. They even have a ravioli attachment, which I didn’t use, but that is a great option. I am a clutter-free, “keep a simple kitchen” type, and I try to have the least amount of “kitchen” things and I make all my pasta (including ravioli) with my $69 atlas that stays on a particular counter at all times. One day I will be writing you all about the joys of my top of the line Kitchen Aid, but it did my heart good to learn how to make pasta in a Tuscan Farmhouse outside of Chianti using a hand-cranked machine.
I originally set out to call my blog “cooking improv” because I can’t make the same thing twice and I can’t follow a recipe. It’s all about my mood, what is on hand, and what just inspired me. When I give you a recipe (even for pasta), it’s a guideline and then you can change it around.
Here are my personal observations when making pasta. You’ll see quickly that there is no standard recipe, as you are not a factory or a chain restaurant. You have the pleasure and privilege of cooking and improvising your own creations. I’m sure I’ll continue to learn new things and report back on pasta making, and I would love to hear your experiences and tips.
My first pasta dough went into the trash as I was following a bad recipe. I was so discouraged that I didn’t try again until after I returned from Italy where I had a lesson in simple pasta making. I researched many different recipes and was happy with this. One egg per half cup of flour. From this starting ground, experience takes over, and I add more flour as needed and reduce the egg amount when I’m adding in liquid flavors such as orange juice.
Spinach Tiger Pasta Observations & Tips
- Different flours will absorb egg or liquid differently. Come to “know” how your dough should feel in your hands at different stages of the pasta. You are starting with flour and adding liquids. You will be incorporating that flour into the liquid and then making a decision on how much more flour to add. Experience teaches this better than a recipe.
- Basic recipe starts with 1 cup flour, salted and one egg. I add a SECOND egg after the first egg is incorporated OR I add a liquid flavoring,which usually means citrus juice or chocolate, etc. I do NOT use any olive oil or water. However, if you need a touch of liquid because you accidentally added too much flour, add a tablespoon of water and continue until you are satisfied.Try hard NOT to add too much flour.
Semolina flour made specifically for pasta is my favorite choice and will be tougher to work with; however, once rested it behaves beautifully. (Note: For this recipe I used all purpose flour).
- All purpose flour can be used, and will render a more tender pasta.
King Arthur organic whole wheat flour can be used and yields a very nice whole wheat pasta.
- When using chopped herbs or zest, mix thoroughly throughout the dry flour first.
- Rest the dough for 30 minutes, covered with a cloth, so it doesn’t dry out.
- Use both a large and small rolling pin.
- Do a practice piece and see how thin your pasta will go without shredding or falling apart. I tend to go to number 8; however, sometimes 7, sometimes 9.
- Watch for chunks of herbs or zest that can shred your pasta. Herbs must be very fine.
- Place ravioli on flat board lined with parchment paper into freezer, making sure pasta does not touch. Freeze for approximately one hour, then place in freezer bags.
- Do same with pasta that is shaped as in the picture.
- Dry pasta noodles on drying rack. Use or refrigerate (or freeze)
Ravioli, Orange Basil Browned Basil Butter and Pine nuts
Orange Basil Pasta Dough
- 1 cup all purpose flour plus extra to adjust
- 1 egg
- Juice of one orange
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped basil or tarragon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 - 2 tablespoons orange zest
- 8 oz ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 1/2 freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- Salt and Pepper
Orange Basil Butter Butter
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped basil
- juice of 1/2 orange 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- Pasta Dough
- 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
- Salt and Pepper
- Put flour in a mound on clean pasta table. Distribute salt, zest, herbs throughout flour.
- Make a hole in center, add egg and beat with fork, incorporating flour.
- If it’s too sticky, add more flour until you can work easily with your hands. Semolina will feel a little tougher than a all purpose flour. Cover, let set for 30 minutes.
- Cut pasta into 4 sections. Roll with rolling pin to rectangular shape, thin enough to start taking through the machine at number 1.
- Roll through machine to number 8, one number at a time. You may need to flour in between If the pasta gets jagged from the herbs, just start over.
- Wrap in plastic or cover with towel for at least 30 minutes to rest the dough.
- Mix everything except egg, and taste/adjust for seasoning.
- Add egg in after you are satisfied.
Ravioli Orange Basil Butter
- Roll out pasta dough. Cut into squares. Fill each ravioli with filling. Use water on edges to close ravioli.
- Cook ravioli in large pot of salted water. Cook frozen just until al dente, 3-5 minutes, if frozen.
- Add each ravioli into pan with butter and carefully place on plate.
- Add pine nuts, more salt and pepper.
- Melt butter in pan until milk solids begin to brown. Add basil, until nearly crisp, add in orange juice, reduce, add zest. Reduce heat, cook about 3 minutes. Add toasted pine nuts, salt, pepper.
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