Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ravioli; a Labor of Love

There is nothing in the world that reminds me more of my grandparents than homemade ravioli. Every special occasion, birthday and holiday was marked by their presence. Grandma used to ask the boys, "What do you want me to make you for your birthday?" Without fail they would answer, "Ravioli, chicken cutlets and 'eatballs!" After a while she just stopped asking us and would have it waiting for us when we arrived.

Grandma would already have the ravioli's done and ready to go. She would be standing over the stove finishing the meatballs and Grandpa would sit in "his" chair at the kitchen table preparing the chicken cutlets the "right" way. They made it look so easy! Little did we know that the arrival of our favorite foods to the dinner table had been planned well in advance, preparations for the ravioli filling started at least 4 days before any of us had given a thought to our rumbling little tummies.

I'm going to apologize in advance though- I have no idea how to make this for a small number of people.

For the filling you will need:

  • 6 lbs. of ricotta
  • A cheese cloth
  • A colander 
  • A bowl big enough to hold the colander
  • Space in your refrigerator for the bowl holding the colander
Later you will also need: 

  • 5 eggs 
  • Parsley 
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper 
  • Additional Herbs and seasoning you want in your filling. Grandma has one she uses but I have absolutely no idea what it's called in either English or Italian 
Put the ricotta in the large cheese cloth inside the colander and inside the large mixing bowl. 

For the next four days at least twice a day remove this contraption from the refrigerator and dump the excess liquid. Ricotta holds a lot of excess water.

When you are ready to start assembling the ravioli, after rolling out the dough scramble the eggs and mix into the ricotta with the herbs. Season with the salt and black pepper to taste. Reserve and put back in the fridge until you are ready to spoon it out.

For the pasta dough: 
  • 5 lbs of flour
  • 5 eggs 
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 4 1/4 cups of water
Mix all of your ingredients together and knead until the dough is smooth. Allow it to rest for 20 minutes. Knead the dough again and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for one hour. Knead and put it back in the fridge until you are ready to use it. When you are ready to use it, roll out the dough into a log on a lightly floured surface and cut into five sections. Roll out the section until it is flat as in the photo below. Try to keep it uniform in size, it makes it easier to cut the individual raviolis.  

Remove the ricotta filling from the refrigerator and mix. Spoon out about one and a half teaspoon sized portions onto the pasta dough about an inch apart from one another and about 3/4 of an inch from the top edge of the dough. 

Then gently fold over the top part of the pasta dough.

Grandpa loved to watch Grandma in the kitchen and provide "help."
Make sure that all of the cheese you have distributed is covered by the pasta dough.

Take your finger and lightly press down between the dollops of ricotta. 

Then using either a ravioli stamp, a knife, or a measuring cup cut the individual ravioli. If you use a knife be sure to press the edges firmly together with a fork like I did with my empanadas.  This will prevent them from breaking open when you cook them. 


To cook the ravioli boil water with a pinch of salt and a dash of olive oil. Fresh pasta will cook faster than store bought pasta. When they're done, they'll float to the top. 

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