When I recently spotted a ravioli mold in the cooking section of a store I was in, I couldn’t resist buying it. The mold came complete with little indents for the filling, and sharply raised zigzag borders and a rolling pin to press down and cut the individual pillows of ravioli. I have always loved ravioli and I suddenly became obsessed with making it from “scratch.” The results were an instant “wow!”
This can be made with either a “cookie cutter” style “ravioli cutter,” or on a flat ravioli mold. Team this with your favorite marinara sauce, serve it alongside a green salad. Serve this with a couple of glasses of red wine, and you have the perfect Italian meal. Look out Chef Boyardee, here comes Chef Boy-R-Bego!
The Ravioli Pasta Sheets
—4 cups Flour
—2 tablespoons Ground Black Pepper
—1/2 cup fresh Lemon Juice
—2 tablespoons Lemon Zest
—1/2 cup extra Flour (for dusting and rolling pasta sheets)
—1 Egg, beaten
—1 15 ounce container of Ricotta Cheese
—2 cups chopped raw Spinach
—2 tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese
—1/4 teaspoon Salt
—1/4 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
—1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
NOTE: You will find a great Marinara Sauce recipe on this blog, under the heading “Spaghetti & Meatballs.” (Obviously, skip the meatballs, and make the sauce.) It goes perfectly with this yummy ravioli!
In a mixing bowl combine the ricotta cheese, raw spinach, egg, Parmesan cheese, salt, ground black pepper, and nutmeg. When it is thoroughly mixed, set it aside in the refrigerator. Now it’s time to make the pasta.
Mound the flour on the sides of a large bowl, creating an interior bowl of flour in the middle. Crack the five whole eggs into the interior bowl of flour, like a bird’s nest. Pour the lemon zest and lemon juice onto the eggs. Using a fork, proceed to beat the five eggs and lemon juice, and as you do so, progressively beat in more and more of the flour.
When you either have all of the flour incorporated into the liquid, or when it is too thick to mix with the fork, stop beating. You will have to start kneading the flour by hand to get all of the flour worked into the mixture. If the dough is too dense, try adding up to 1/8 a cup of water to it, and see if it holds together.
Remove all of the dough and excess flour from the bowl, and place onto your kitchen counter or on a large cutting board. Whichever surface you decide upon, first dust it with more flour. Begin kneading the dough. You need to press down on it with your weight, fold it over, and do it again. If it feels too wet, add more flour. If it seems too dry, add a little more water, and continue kneading.
The ideal pasta dough should be kneaded to the point where it no longer sticks to the counter top or the cutting board, or your hands for that matter. Knead the dough at least 10 minutes until it has a uniform consistency, and becomes elastic. By elastic, I mean that it should get to the point where if you squeeze it with your hands, it springs back part of the way towards you.
As you go through this process, you are going to feel the dough changing from a dull ball of flour, into a springy pasta dough. When it is very elastic, roll the dough into an evenly proportioned log shape, and with a knife, cut the dough into four pieces. Take each of the pieces, and wrap them in plastic wrap, and place them in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
After the dough has sat and cooled off for 20 minutes, remove it from the refrigerator and unwrap one of the quarters of dough. This is the ideal size to work with.
If the dough is at its perfect state of elasticity, it should not stick to either your hands or the counter. Powder it with a little bit of extra flour, and by hand, flatten it out into a pancake shape, no wider than your pasta maker machine.
There should be 10 markings or width settings on your pasta rolling machine, Zero to Nine. Set the rollers at “Zero” (0) and while you crank with one hand (unless electric), feed the flattened pasta dough into the rollers. When it is flattened out, fold it in half, and repeat the process. Repeat this five or six times to thoroughly process the dough into a sheet of pasta. Add more flour to it if you need to.
For ravioli, the thickness that you will ultimately want will be the setting of “Five” (5). Gradually moving the lever from Zero to Five, one number at a time, each time rolling the dough through the machine until it is flattened one number at a time to number “Five” (5). At a certain point, you will want to cut your dough in half of its length for easier handling.
Striving to obtain nice flat ends, you can make any necessary end-cutting or reshaping along the way. Eventually you will have several separate pieces of flattened dough, at the Number Five thickness.
If you are working with a ravioli mold, lightly flour the mold, and put a sheet of pasta dough down, pressing down the indents in the mold for the filling to fit. Using a scoop or a spoon, fill the center hole of the ravioli mold with the spinach and cheese filling.
Take one egg, and crack it into a small mixing bowl. Beat it together. Using a pastry brush, brush all of the exposed pieces of pasta dough that is in the ravioli mold. Place another sheet of pasta dough over the top of the ravioli mold and it will affix to the egg covered bottom sheet of pasta.
Using a rolling pin or knife, press down on the ravioli mold so that the separating edges of the mold cut through the two layers of sealed pasta, and you will form the individual pillows of ravioli.
If you are using a cookie cutter style ravioli cutter, lay down the first layer of pasta, put scoops of the filling on top of it. Apply the egg wash, and add the top pasta layer of the pasta. Using the cutter, or cutting wheel, cut out separate pillows of ravioli.
Allow the individual ravioli pillows to dry slightly for one hour before cooking it. To cook it, carefully place the raviolis in a pot of rapidly boiling water. Since this is fresh pasta, it should only take 3 to 4 minutes to boil, and the ravioli should be perfectly done.
This recipe will yield approximately 48 ravioli pillows, about enough for six people. As stated at the top of this recipe, I recommend my Marinara sauce (see Spaghetti & Meatballs for Marinara recipe) as the perfect topper for this ravioli. However, you might have your own favorite sauce to team it will as well. Any way you top it, this ravioli recipe is a real winner!