Here I am. Only hours remain in the month of February.
Dinners on Double Batch = Procrastination…big time.
Well, procrastination coupled with this month being one of the busiest I’ve had in a while, including during the holidays. Three birthdays in the family, a husband who is working a L-O-T of hours, and a pretty hefty church responsibility have all taken priority over blogging. Busy isn’t altogether bad… just busy! The month has been crammed with a lot of fun, but definitely short on time.
When I asked Nate what he wanted for his birthday he said homemade ravioli sounded good. An interesting choice sweet husband. I thought you’d choose something I’ve maybe made before or at least know how to make and have the tools for. The birthday boy recanted his response a bit and offered up a handful of other suggestions, knowing how much work and venturing into uncharted culinary territory he was asking me to wade into. But when a husband as fabulous as mine makes even a half-serious request like this one AND it’s his birthday, I couldn’t help but come through. Plus, occasionally I do enjoy a little culinary challenge of my own.
I’ll be honest: ravioli for eight was a lot of work. This, my friends, is not a thirty minute meal. Good news though — the end result was delicious and worth it. I learned a thing or two during the process, including how to use my newest kitchen accessory, the KitchenAid pasta roller. There wouldn’t have been ravioli or anything resembling homemade pasta without that beauty. I definitely see more homemade pasta in our future, especially when my brother-in-law, the Italian chef comes to town. O.k., he’s really a hard-working high school teacher by day, but thanks to a couple of years spent in Italy, he makes some fantastic sauces.
In the end, Nate was happy, which meant I was happy. If anyone deserves to be spoiled a little, loved a lot and made to feel extra special it’s him. I served the pasta with a delicious bolognese sauce (recipe coming soon), garlic green beans, and our favorite french bread.
While it definitely did take some time, I’m pleased to report that the process from start to finish isn’t technically difficult. If you’ve got the desire, challenge yourself a little give it a try.
* I’m curious, is there a culinary creation you’ve been wanting to make but don’t feel like you have the time or the tools or the skills (or maybe all three!) to make it happen?
Pasta was on that list for me. My short list includes artisan breads, a number of sweets that require a thermometer and chocolate souffle. What about you?
Basic Egg Pasta
from Annie’s Eats (one of my most favorite blogs, by the way!)
4 large eggs
1 tbsp. water, plus more as needed
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the eggs, 1 tablespoon water, olive oil and flour. Mix on low speed until the ingredients are well mixed and a dough begins to form. If the mixture is not coming together add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time just until the dough is formed. Remove the dough from the mixer and transfer it to a work surface. Knead 1-2 minutes by hand. Cover with a clean towel and let rest for 20 minutes before proceeding.
Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Flatten each piece with a rolling pin until it is flat enough to go through the pasta sheet roller at its widest setting. Run the dough through the sheet roller on its widest setting once. Remove the sheet from the roller and lay it on the work surface lengthwise. Bring both outside edges into the middle, folding the sheet into thirds. Flatten with the rolling pin until flat enough to go through the sheet roller on the widest setting once again. Pass the folded sheet through the roller, open end first. Remove the sheet from the roller and lay it on the work surface lengthwise once again. Fold the sheet into thirds as before, flatten with the rolling pin and pass through the roller once again. Continue this pattern until the dough is smooth and supple, approximately six times total.
Pass the dough through the pasta sheet roller at narrowing widths (folding is no longer necessary), narrowing it one setting at a time, until the dough has reached the thinness you desire. (If at any time the sheet becomes too unwieldy, simply cut it in half and work with each half individually.) Set the sheet aside, cover with a towel and repeat the entire process with the remaining three segments of dough.
Once all the pasta sheets are finished, pass through a noodle cutter if desired.
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente, 2-5 minutes. (I recommend testing a piece at a time, mine took even longer.) Drain well and serve.
Spinach and Cheese Ravoli
Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod (this is a GREAT cooking blog too!)
1 bunch of fresh spinach-wash and remove stems (about 1 pound) or use frozen chopped spinach (10 oz.)
½ medium onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T olive oil
¾ cup ricotta cheese
3/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 large egg yolk
Salt and pepper
Place damp spinach leaves in a large skillet over medium heat. Cover with a lid and let the leaves wilt. Once wilted let cool and then chop.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet. Add the onion and garlic and cook over medium heat, until translucent. Stir in the spinach and salt to taste. Cook for about one minute.
Transfer the spinach mixture to a medium bowl. Stir in ricotta, parmigiano-reggiano, mozzarella, and egg yolk. Mix well and set aside. The filling can be refrigerated overnight. Lay out your long sheets of pasta on a lightly floured table. Place small balls of filling, about 1 teaspoon, in a line about one inch from the bottom of the pasta sheet. Leave about 1 1/4 inches between each ball of filling. Fold over the top of the pasta sheet, lining it with the bottom edge.
Using a pastry brush lightly apply water on all of the areas that will be used to seal in the pasta. Seal the bottom and 2 open sides with your finger. Use a ravioli cutter to cut out the individual raviolis if you have one. If not, cut the ravioli into squares and use a fork to completely seal the edges. Place the ravioli on a large plate.
Boil a huge pot of water with salt. Add in the ravioli and cook for about 5-6 minutes. Strain and serve with the sauce of your choice.