This is a labour of love, worth the effort and worth the time. It is a great project to take up half a day, just pottering about the kitchen taking it easy.
I have tried making pasta from scratch once before, and it definitely resulted in pasta, but rather a hard and misshapen pasta (I tried to make tortellini). I asked my wonderful Nan for a pasta roller for Christmas, thinking that this would improve my results, and she obliged because she is wonderful! However… when it comes to assembling any kind of machinery, technology or actually most things, I am about as caggy-handed as it is possible to be. I spent a good half hour trying to figure it out, but to no avail. So, having made the filling, the sauce and the dough for my ravioli, I rolled it out by hand.
By the time it was ready to cook, I was feeling quite dishevelled but hopeful. I had managed to roll the pasta out thinly enough so that I could see my hand through it! The final dish was beautiful, and like I said, worth the effort and worth the time. I will warn you now however, that I the way I cut my ravioli was definitely unconventional! But it worked for me. Go about yours the traditional way if you are not like me and don’t tend to figure out methods that work, but usually end up taking a little bit longer… I figure these could be guidelines for a novice, not a pro 😉
I will give the recipe here for making pasta without a machine, as clearly I haven’t mastered the art for that yet! Though I hope to post a recipe made using the machine in the future.
The filling is my absolute favourite, but of course you can substitute different cheeses. I reckon ricotta is pretty mandatory though, as a binding agent.
For the Dough:
- 200g ’00’ flour
- 2 large eggs, beaten
For the Filling:
- 30g mozzarella, grated
- 30g parmesan, grated
- 30g emmental, or alternative (*see bottom of post), grated
- 30g ricotta
- small handful fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 egg, beaten
For the Sauce:
- olive oil
- 1 small onion, grated
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 100ml white wine
- 400g tin tomatoes
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
- 10g dried porcini mushrooms, rehydrated and finely chopped (reserve a small cup of the water used to rehydrate the mushrooms)
- First make the sauce. It needs to be left simmering for a while, so I find it best to get it done and dusted so you can focus on the pasta. It can be left to sit for later, and will also freeze if needs be. Heat the oil in a pan over a low heat, then add the onion, letting it mellow and soften for a few minutes. Add the garlic until it is fragrant, then pour in half of the wine and leave to reduce. Add the tomatoes and tomato purée, and again, leave to reduce (for about 20 minutes). Finally, add the mushrooms, rosemary, remaining wine and a splash of the water used to rehydrate the mushrooms, and leave to reduce for the last time. Check for seasoning, then set aside.
- Now make the pasta dough. Put the flour in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Tip the eggs in the well, then, using your fingertips, mix the eggs with the flour, a little at a time until it is all combined. Knead the dough so that it binds together and you are left with one ball of dough.
- Knead the dough for approximately 10 minutes, until it feels smooth and silky. You may need to add a little flour to your work surface, but don’t go mad. You will be adding flour when you roll the pasta out later, so you don’t want to overdo it, or you will end up with tough little ravioli.
- Wrap the dough in cling-film and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the filling. All you have to do is put all of the listed ingredients except the beaten egg into a bowl and mix well to combine.
- Take the dough out of the fridge and flour a clean work surface. Use a rolling pin to get the pasta thin enough so that you can see your hand through it.
- Once your pasta is thin enough, you need to cut it as soon as possible, as freshly made pasta dries very quickly. I used a square ravioli stamp to cut out 32 squares from my dough. I assembled a small mound of four-cheese filling in the centre of 16 of these. Then, using a pastry brush I brushed some beaten egg around the edges of the same 16. The remaining ravioli squares were used to press on top of each cheese-adorned square. Make sure you press down so that the pasta pockets are fully secure with no air inside.
- They are now ready to cook! Put on a pan of salted water to boil while you reheat the sauce, then drop them in! Let them boil until they float to the top. This will only take a 2-3 minutes.
*Emmental is a semi-hard, mild, nutty flavoured cheese. Alternatives include provolone, gruyere, fontina or gouda. I have heard that fontina is superior in flavour, but I can never find this at my local supermarket. I also think cheddar would be a good substitute, despite the it’s different characteristics.