I’m not an Italian grandmother. I haven’t spent years making the same pasta shapes over and over, developing a feel for the pasta and how to work with it. Which is why I generally avoid making ravioli, let alone any other more complicated stuffed pasta shape. It usually goes fine up until it’s time to put the first scoop of filling onto the pasta, which is when I get lost. How much filling? How far apart should the filling be spaced? How should they be folded? Why are they falling apart?
So instead of trying to muddle through and end up with one consistently ugly batch, I split the pasta into three sections in order to analyze the mistakes from each batch and, hopefully, improve with each one.
I started with my standard pasta recipe from Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio, 3 parts flour to 2 parts egg. For the test batch I used 2 eggs. The eggs weighed 3.85 ounces, so I used 5.75 ounces of flour. This got stirred together in a bowl then dumped on the counter to need for 10-12 minutes. It needed a bit more flour once kneading began. The dough should be tacky so the ravioli will seal, but not sticky. Once it has a smooth texture, it gets wrapped and put into the refrigerator for 30 minutes or so.
I had just got some rainbow chard from the farmer’s market, so I cut the leaves off the stems, saving the stems for a sauce. I sliced these, sauteed them in olive oil with a bit of garlic, then stirred together with some chives, ricotta, parmesan an egg and salt and pepper.
First attempt at shaping, that ravioli on the left, was not so good. Overstuffed. Second attempt in the middle got a little better, but still having trouble getting the air pockets out. Finally on the right, some ravioli I could live with.
|Ricotta and Rainbow Chard Ravioli|
- 9 ounces flour
- 4 eggs
- 8 ounces ricotta cheese
- 4 ounces parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon chives, sliced
- 16 ounces rainbow chard leaves, stems reserved
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 small shallot
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- Combine 2 eggs with flour in a bowl. Work eggs into flour until a ball forms. Remove to counter and knead dough for 10 minutes or more until dough is smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in sautee pan. Add garlic and sautee 30 seconds. Add sliced rainbow chard leaves and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Sautee until reduced to around 1/4 cup. Remove from pan and let cool. Once cool squeeze rainbow chard to remove excess water.
- Combine ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, chives, salt, pepper and egg and stir until egg is thoroughly combined. Add rainbow chard and stir lightly to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to make ravioli.
- Remove pasta dough from refrigerator and roll to appropriate thickness for your particular pasta roller. On a Kitchen Aid roller, number 7 seemed to work best. Any thinner and the pasta tore too easily once the filling was added.
- On the front half of each strip of pasta, add on teaspoon of ricotta filling 3 inches. Dipping a finger in water, lightly moisten the dough around each mound of filling. Fold back half of pasta over the front. Starting along the back, press pasta dough down to seal the back edge. Then press between each mound of filling. Working from one ravioli to the next, press gently around each mound of filling to push out excess air then seal the front side.
- Once all sides are sealed, roll ravioli cutter around each ravioli to separate. Move ravioli to a flour dusted towel and continue with remaining pasta and filling. Reserve until ready to cook.
- Bring large pot of salted water to boil. While waiting for water to boil, slice reserved rainbow chard stems, remaining garlic clove and a small shallot. Sautee garlic, shallot and rainbow chard stems in olive oil until barely soft.
- Once water is boiling, add ravioli and boil for 10 minutes. They will begin to float to the top before then, but letting them cook for 10 minutes will ensure the egg in the filling is thoroughly cooked.
- Remove ravioli from water and plate, adding a scoop of the sauteed stems, some shaved parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil on top.