I hope that you get the same pleasure I do when you see your homemade raviolis for the first time!
Ah, the great homemade pasta! Sadly, I don't know anyone who makes it from scratch anymore. Even my own parents have fallen victim to the lure of dry pasta. It's not that dry pasta is terrible, it's just that when it's readily available and extremely convenient, people tend to start forgetting about the old traditions, and that's just a shame.
Almost everyone will agree that homemade pasta is superior to the store-bought dry variety, so why settle for something that's not as good? Not enough time, don't know how, afraid to cook, or whatever your excuse is, it's not good enough. The only love in cooking comes from the user, so learn with me as I show you how to make one of my favorite fresh pasta dishes: parmesan cauliflower ravioli.
Ingredients for Filling
- 1 head of cauliflower
- 1 yellow onion
- 1/2 lb bacon
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon thyme
Ingredients for Dough
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Yield: 24 ravioli
Step 1: Make the Filling
- Steam one medium to large head of cauliflower until it is soft. (A knife should easily cut through with no pressure.)
- Cook the bacon until crispy. Drain off the bacon lard from the pan, leaving around a tablespoon to cook the onion.
- On medium-high heat, cook the diced onion until it begins to caramelize, around 3-5 minutes.
- Combine cauliflower, bacon, Parmesan cheese, thyme, and onion into a food processor or blender. Pulse until the mixture is well incorporated.
- The mixture can be used right away or stored in the refrigerator for up to a couple of days, depending on when you plan to cook the ravioli.
Step 2: Make the Dough
You might have come to think that homemade pasta is a tricky process that only the professionals should attempt. Well, shame on you for thinking this way! This ravioli pasta dough can be made easily from scratch with very little time.
- Sift flour and salt onto a flat surface and create a well in the center.
- Add oil and eggs to the well.
- Using one hand, slowly begin to incorporate the flour into the egg and oil mixture. Use the other hand to protect and prevent the well from spilling. (Alternately, the same process can be done in a large bowl to prevent a mess if you're not familiar with creating a well to make dough.)
- Just as the dough ball begins to form, transfer the dough and any leftover flour onto a lightly floured surface.
- Knead for 10 minutes, or until the dough feels elastic.
- Place ravioli dough into a lightly oiled bowl and place it into the refrigerator. Let it rest for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 day.
Video Guide to Making Pasta Dough
Making the pasta dough can sometimes be tricky to learn just by reading the instructions. For you visual learners out there, I've included a video that should clear this process up for you. This video of Serena Palumbo from Cooking in Manhattan illustrates how to make a proper pasta dough. Although she's making lasagna noodles, the dough process remains the same, plus what an exotic accent she has.
Step 3: Assemble the Ravioli
- With a rolling pin or pasta machine, roll out your pasta dough until it is 1/8 inch thick and resembles a paper-thin rectangle. You should be able to see your hand through the dough. For hand rollers like myself, I've found that working only half the dough at a time helps for me to roll the dough really thin. (Cover the other half of the dough while you work.)
- Place heaping tablespoons of filling along one side of the dough. These should be spaced around 1 1/2 inches from each other.
- Lightly beat an egg and 1 tablespoon water. Using this egg wash, brush the edges of the ravioli dough with the filling on it. Fold over the other side and begin to cut and seal your ravioli. A fork works perfectly.
- Cook finished ravioli in salted boiling water until they float. This process should take 4-5 minutes. Also, be sure not to crowd the pot of water with ravioli; you want to cook them in small batches to ensure the water stays hot.
Step 4: Make the Sauce
You'd better have a sauce ready for those fresh ravioli because they're the best right out of the water. Don't get hung up and have cold ravioli because you were waiting for your sauce to finish. Here's a couple of sauce ideas that can easily be made up ahead of time so you can enjoy the freshness of your ravioli.
- 2 cups packed spinach
- 2 cloves roasted garlic
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Instructions: Process spinach leaves and roasted garlic in a blender or food processor. Add a little olive oil at a time until you have a smooth pesto. Salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready.
Brown Butter Sauce
- Desired amount of butter
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of thyme
- Pinch of lemon zest
Instructions: In a pan, heat butter to medium/medium-high heat, stirring the entire time. Once the butter browns, remove from the heat and add salt, thyme, and lemon zest. Put on a different burner at low heat to save until ravioli are ready.
You Can Do It!
All right, now let's see a machine do that! You know what, it couldn't. My odd shapes and slight imperfections make this pasta my own, and I'm dang proud of it. I hope that you get the same pleasure when you see your ravioli for the first time! Remember, it's the old traditions that produce the best results; no excuses.