October 19, 2010

Ravioli with Five Cheeses

This is the last of my string of Italian pasta dishes, for now, anyway.

I've attempted ravioli several times, but was never proud of the end result. I finally figured out what I was doing wrong...rolling the dough too thin. Leaving the dough thicker makes forming the ravioli much easier, as the dough doesn't tear and the ravioli doesn't break when boiling. Also, I used plenty of flour to dust the dough when rolling and forming the ravioli, which helped out too.

As you can see, I don't have a ravioli mold, so my ravioli are crude and irregular. They still taste fabulous, though. I formed the ravioli by rolling out a wide strip of pasta, adding scoops of filling to one side of the pasta strip, then folding over the pasta, pressing to seal, and cutting it into individual ravioli. Another idea would be to use a biscuit cutter to cut the ravioli.

Semolina flour is not required to make successful pasta. Feel free to substitute any other fresh pasta recipe in place of the Semolina Pasta recipe below. This cheese filling is very tasty, despite that I left out the gorgonzola cheese.

I highly recommend freezing any ravioli you won't eat that day. Spread uncooked ravioli on a baking sheet and stick in the freezer for a half hour or so. Then transfer to a ziplock bag and store in the freezer.

UPDATE 2/5/2011: I made these ravioli again, this time with the gorgonzola cheese. I actually preferred them without the gorgonzola, which is a blue cheese. However, if you love blue cheese, then go ahead and add the gorgonzola.

Semolina Pasta
from Bob's Red Mill

2 cups semolina flour
1 large egg
1/2 cup to 1 cup water (as needed)
1 tb olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt

On a flat work surface form a mound of the semolina, salt, add egg, 1/2 cup water and oil in center top. Mix to make a stiff dough. Add one tablespoon of water at a time while combining mixture, until desired consistency is achieved (moderately stiff dough). This is a very stiff dough due to the grainy texture of the semolina. If you find this dough too difficult for you to work with, wet your hands and continue kneading to the right consistency. Knead 10 minutes or until dough is elastic. Wrap dough in towel or place in plastic bag and let rest for 20 minutes. On a lightly floured surface roll out to desired thickness and cut as desired.

Ravioli with Five Cheeses
from The Italian Dish

makes 50-60 ravioli

helpful equipment: a pastry bag or gallon sized zip lock, a ravioli mold, a rolling pin, a spritz bottle of water, a fluted pastry wheel

1 batch Semolina Pasta dough
2 ounces or 2 c. Parmesan
1 c. or 1 ounce Pecorino Romano
1 c. or 3 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
3/4 c. or 2 ounces gorgonzola
1 c. or 8 ounces ricotta
1 egg
salt and pepper

Make the pasta dough. While the dough is resting, make the filling:

Place the Parmesan and Pecorino Romano in a food processor and process until fine. Add the other cheeses, the egg and a pinch of salt and pepper and process until smooth. Fill a pastry bag, fitted with a large tip, with the mixture and refrigerate. (If you don't have a pastry bag, just use a gallon size zip-lock and snip off a little of one corner). You can also simply fill the ravioli with a spoon, without using a pastry bag.

Make the ravioli (see this link for a photo tutorial):

Cut the pasta dough into three pieces. Keep the dough you are not using wrapped. Make sure your pasta rollers are on the #1 setting, the widest. Flatten your piece of dough and run it through the rollers. Flour it, fold it into thirds, and run it through again. Do this three or four times. Set the rollers to #2 and run the dough through that setting. Do not fold dough. Keep running it through the rollers until you get to setting #4 or #5. Avoid rolling the dough too thin. If you like thinner dough, use #5. Keep in mind as you are making the pasta sheets, that you want them as wide as possible so that they cover your ravioli mold. (If you are not using a mold, don't worry about that.) Take the sheets of pasta and lay them on a floured countertop. Cover the pasta sheets with a towel or plastic wrap, so they don't dry out while you are forming the ravioli.

Repeat with remaining dough until you have made all your pasta sheets. If you have a ravioli mold, flour it well. Lay one sheet of pasta on the mold, making sure the entire mold is covered. Take your pastry bag and squeeze out about a tablespoon of filling into each well. Spritz the pasta sheet with a little water. Lay the second sheet on top and run a rolling pin over to seal. Turn the mold over and release the ravioli. They will not be separated. Use a fluted pastry wheel to cut apart. Lay the ravioli on a floured baking pan and continue making ravioli until you've used all the pasta sheets.

You can store the ravioli on baking sheets in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them. Cover with plastic wrap. You can also freeze them on baking sheets and then stick them in zip locks. To cook after being frozen, do not defrost first.

To cook: Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil. Add the ravioli in batches of about a dozen at a time. Bring the water back to a gentle simmer and cook for about 3-4 minutes. (If ravioli is frozen, cook about a minute more). Remove with a slotted spoon or handled strainer to a serving dish. Continue cooking the remainder of ravioli. Serve with any sauce you like.

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