Ravioli Ramblings

We’re having a bit of a snowstorm in Boston today.  Nothing major, but it’s big enough to cancel all my plans for the day.  So, I’m sitting on the couch, eating my last 100 Calorie Kettle Korn pack, and joining the tens of thousands of people listening to the late Etta James on Pandora.

So, it’s a good time to remember sunnier days, don’t you think?  It hasn’t been long, so I know you’re still drooling over the ravioli we made in Italy, yes?

Gee...everything you need to know about making ravioli. Just follow the steps!

Gee...everything you need to know about making ravioli. Just follow the steps!

Okay, okay, I know you need more explanation than that!  Luckily, I recently had a chance to try to make my own version of these tasty little suckers, with assistance from two of the coolest cats on the planet.

None other than the always amazing Audrey!

None other than the always amazing Audrey!

And, of course, the darlingly dashing Davis!

And, of course, the darlingly dashing Davis!

In my family, the day after Christmas (or in this case, the day after the day after Christmas) has become almost as big a deal as the real thing. We whip up a couple of big pots of soup and my dad spends an hour perched over his fry daddy making fluffy and amazing tempura sweet potato and shrimp. He used to fry up other things, too.  But sweet potato and shrimp were all that anyone ever wanted.

This year my mom declared that she was “going Italian.” Instead of a buffet of soups, she’d made an extra-large batch of her mother’s minestrone. She planned a scallop dish for the main course, but needed something in between. Enter…

Handmade Ravioli in Sundried Tomato Pesto!

Sounds good, right?

Well, it was…  Sadly, I don’t have any pics of the finished product.  I was too busy serving it up for the crowd.  But, believe me, it was as beautiful as it was yummy.

We started with making some ravioli.  Since I had a couple of helpers who didn’t mind getting their hands dirty, we went for the “traditional” method.  Clearly, if the goal is to make as much ravioli with the least effort, this is not the way to go.  But, we had an afternoon and a couple of kids to entertain.  Besides, all that rolling of dough really gave me a good workout!

Dough (per person):

1 cup flour
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon olive oil (optional)
1-2 teaspoons water (as necessary)

Everyone starts with one cup of flour and a pinch of salt.  (Aren’t we lucky that my mom has granite countertops?  No cutting boards necessary!)

Davis could have mixed the salt and flour with a fork, but aren't fingers so much more fun?

Davis could have mixed the salt and flour with a fork, but aren't fingers so much more fun?

Mix the flour and salt together, then form a mountain shaped mound. Take your fist and create a well in the flour large enough for an egg. (If you have small hands like Davis and Audrey, you might need to ask for help!)

Crack an egg into the well in your flour. Break the yolk with a fork.

Definitely time to use a fork.  Things are about to get super messy!

Definitely time to use a fork. Things are about to get super messy!

I don’t have any photos of this next part. It’s super messy and my poor iPhone was already half covered in flour. (Does Apple care cover flour damage?)

Anyway, here’s what you do. Start swirling the egg around in its happy little flour well. As your fork spins, pull in just a little bit of flour. Go slow.  Don’t just dump in all that flour, because you won’t need it all. How much you need depends on the size of your egg. Pull in a little more flour when what you have is good and mixed.  You can add in a teaspoon of olive oil, if you want. We didn’t, and things turned out just fine.

If you end up with a mixture that’s too thick or too lumpy, just add a splash of water.

Once you get something that looks like dough, knead it for 5 minutes. Yep. Five minutes. Add flour as necessary.

You’ll end up with a bunch of cute little dough balls. Cover them with plastic wrap and let them rest in the fridge for a little while. They’ve worked hard (and so have you!)

Aren't they pretty?  You're gonna need one of these for each person you serve.  Clearly this is not the way to go if not everyone's into pitching in!

Aren't they pretty? You're gonna need one of these for each person you serve. Clearly this is not the way to go if not everyone's into pitching in!

After a half hour or so, take those suckers out of the fridge. They’ve rested long enough! Dust your work surface with flour and start rolling.

Davis has some pretty impressive muscle tone...for a six-year-old!

Davis has some pretty impressive muscle tone...for a six-year-old!

You’ll want to get the dough pretty thin, so use all your tricks. When it’s almost there, you can pull and stretch as you wrap it around your rolling pin. Then give it a couple more solid turns on your work surface. Gently unwrap, and you’ll find yourself with a thin sheet of dough that’s just about right.

Next, cut out a bazillion little circles.

We starting to lose Davis here.  I'm a pretty cool aunt, but uncles playing video games have their appeal, too!

We starting to lose Davis here. I'm a pretty cool aunt, but uncles playing video games have their appeal, too!

Whip up some filling. We kept it simple, since my sister’s kids aren’t known for their love of spinach!

Filling:
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated mozzerella
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 egg
salt and pepper

Place a teeny bit of filling in the center of each dough circle.  Fold in half to form a half moon.  Use a little bit of water to seal the edges.

Grandma and Audrey look so proud, don't they?

Grandma and Audrey look so proud, don't they?

Line the finished ravioli up on cookie sheets, dusted with flour. Dust on a little more for good measure. Leave them be until you’re almost ready to serve!

Yep, that's four cookie sheets of ravioli. We probably could have stacked them closer together, but that wouldn't have looked nearly as impressive.

Yep, that's four cookie sheets of ravioli. We probably could have stacked them closer together, but that wouldn't have looked nearly as impressive.

Now you’re gonna need some sauce, yes?

Pesto:

8 sun dried tomatos, soaked in olive oil
1 clove garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Pulse together all ingredients in a food processor or blender.  It’s very thick, so you’ll need to reserve some cooking water from your ravioli to help toss everything together.

Speaking of cooking, those ravioli are going to need to be boiled in a large pot of salted water for 5-8 minutes, or until they float to the top.  Toss with pesto and a hearty splash of the reserved cooking water.

We served this in small, individually plated portions on top of a bed of baby spinach that had been dressed with a little salt and olive oil. We topped the whole thing with some oven roasted multi-colored cherry tomatos. Beautiful and delicious. You’re just going to have to trust me on that!

It sounds like my neighbors have begun to dig out our shared driveway. I think they’re crazy, because it’s still snowing. But, I guess I should think about being neighborly and going out help, eh?

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