Who doesn’t like pasta? It’s practically the noodle version of pizza, and if you dislike pizza, you should go get your tastebuds checked… like right now. Yikes! That was totally rude and I’m joking, but seriously!! As an Italian food lover, I prefer pasta over pizza in that the varieties of noodles and sauces are infinite. The Italians utilize different ingredients to create divers colors, flavors, and shapes of pasta and I am beginning to explore the world of noodles, by making them by hand.
I’ve only eaten handmade pasta noodles a few times, with my favorite, so far, being Patrizi’s , a hole in the wall restaurant in Austin, Texas. Handmade noodles are a game-changer. I disliked splurging on them because it’ll cost about $5-6 more and my mentality is driven by value. Thoughts in my mind may look like: “Buy store brand; same quality but cheaper” OR “why go to that restaurant when you get more bang for your buck at this one”. I balance value and quality, but when it comes to pasta, I have indeed concluded that handmade, fresh pasta is worth the extra bucks. Why? Well, for a few reasons that I shall note below:
1.) It’s chewy and tender, considering that it contains eggs and has a higher moisture content.
2.) It has more flavor because it absorbs sauces better and has a rougher texture that’ll trap sauces and seasonings in its minute crevices.
3.) It’s better for you; dried pasta comes with additives and preservatives to fortify the product. While the fortifiers aren’t fully harmful, I like to steer away from additives as much as possible.
Storing dried pasta in the pantry is difficult and it often gets chewed up by flour weevils. I no longer have any more dry pasta in the house, and am ready to make fresh pasta from now on. It’s cheap, simple, and the only tool you need is a wooden rolling pin, which I got from Chinatown for $1 🙂 Promise me, handmade pasta will change the way you eat Italian food.
Handmade Ricotta Ravioli
yield: 20 ravioli
- 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour PLUS approx 1/4 c. more for kneading and flouring surface
- 1 egg
- 1/4 c. lukewarm water
- 1/4 tsp egg
- 3/4 c. ricotta cheese
- 1/4 c. freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 egg
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- pinch pepper
- 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning OR 1 tsp fresh chopped Italian herbs (rosemary, basil, thyme)
- pinch nutmeg
- 1/8 c. frozen spinach, thawed + pat dry
- To make the filling, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix until incorporated.
- To make the dough, pour all the flour onto a clean surface and make a well. Crack the egg into it and beat with a fork, carefully working in the flour gradually.
- Once the mixture is chunky and dry, gradually pour in the warm water and combine the mixture with your hands. Keep working all the water in until the dough is sticky and incorporated.
- Gradually dust board with additional flour, and kneading dough ball at the same time. Continue kneading for about 8 minutes until the dough is sticky, but not too sticky that it sticks to your fingers.
- Wrap in clingwrap or place in a bowl with a damp paper towel and let dough rest for 15 minutes.
- Once dough has rested, lightly flour a surface and cut the dough in half. Making the dough can be done in many ways, but due to limited counter space, this is how I did it: Roll one half of the dough using a floured rolling pin into a long rectangle, until it is thin, almost enough so the dough is see through, but just ALMOST. We don’t want the dough to break. Carefully remove the dough and place on piece of parchment paper of non-stick baking mat.
- Lightly flour the work surface again and roll out the second half of dough in the same manner and size. Dollop the filling, about 1 tsp onto the dough as shown below. Once finished, place the second rolled out dough sheet and place over the first dough and its filling. Seal the edges with your fingers. Seal tightly so the filling does not come out.
- Using a knife, pizza cutter, or a cucumber slicer (like I used), cut the edges of the ravioli to form the squares. Set the ravioli on a floured on non-stick surface and allow them to dry for 45 min. Excess dough can be re-rolled to make more ravioli, or thrown in as pasta.
- Once ravioli has been set out for 45 min, boil a pot of water with 1/2 tsp salt. When the water is boiling, throw in the ravioli and let them cook for approx. 6-8 min, or until dough becomes see through.
- Serve the ravioli fresh with your favorite pasta sauce and fresh herbs. I made a crema rosa sauce, which I will be posting a recipe tomorrow! Watch out for it:)