Any student earning an online culinary arts certificate should learn the basics of homemade pasta. When you’re really ready to unleash your creativity, try making ravioli. Crafting this stuffed pasta may seem intimidating, but with a little guidance it can be easier than you think.
With some quality ingredients and imagination, you can learn to make fantastic pasta packed with your favorite flavors. The possibilities for great combinations of dough, filling and sauce are endless. Here are four tips to get you started.
1. Prepare the dough
Delicious ravioli starts with excellent dough. Alton Brown recommended starting by forming a well out of all-purpose flour. Combine two eggs with olive oil, water and salt in a measuring cup, and pour the wet ingredients into the flour. Use your fingers or a fork to combine.
“Delicious ravioli starts with excellent dough.”
If you are using a pasta machine, it’s a good idea to let the dough rest before proceeding. Form a disk, cover with plastic wrap and set in the refrigerator for about an hour before running it through the machine. If you’re preparing the dough by hand, knead it for about 10 minutes on a floured surface.
Make sure you get the dough thin enough when you’re rolling out sheets. Bon Appetit suggested testing by holding the dough to the light and checking whether you can see the shadow of your hand on the other side. Otherwise, you risk ending up with an undercooked final product.
2. Craft a flavorful filling
The most exciting part of making ravioli is preparing the filling. Serious Eats offered a classic recipe featuring ricotta. Drain the cheese to make it firmer, and then combine it with Parmesan, nutmeg, lemon juice, salt and pepper for added flavor.
Brown’s version uses his meatloaf recipe to create a hearty beef filling. It requires pulsing garlic croutons, black pepper, chili powder, cayenne pepper and thyme in a food processor. Do the same with onion, carrot, garlic and red pepper. Then, combine both mixtures with ground chuck, ground sirloin, an egg and salt.
For a more adventurous approach, try the seafood ravioli suggested by The Kitchn. This calls for sauteing shrimp in olive oil for a minute, and then removing from heat to cool. Remove the shells, and chop the shrimp. Then, mix with goat cheese, milk, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper.
3. Carefully cut and fold
Make a crease in your sheets of dough by folding them over. Add several tablespoons of filling, about a half-inch apart from each other. Brush some water onto the edge, and then fold over the crease. Try to press out as much air as possible so the pasta will cook evenly.
Gently seal the dough, and then you’re ready to cut out the ravioli. You can use a mold, a ravioli cutter or just a knife to form the pasta into your preferred shape. Squares are most common, but there’s no reason you can’t try something more interesting.
4. Cook it just right
To achieve perfect ravioli, it’s vital to monitor the cooking process closely. Boil a pot of salted water and cook for about three minutes. Then you just need the sauce. Serious Eats suggested keeping it simple by mixing a half cup of the starchy cooking liquid with a quarter cup of olive oil. Combine with the ravioli in the pot and cook at a high heat for a minute, watching for the oil and water to emulsify.
Once you get the basics of cooking ravioli down, you can explore a huge variety of fillings and sauces. This is one dish that’s sure to satisfy dinner guests, and, with some inventive twists, it can also impress at culinary academy.