Pictured is a ravioli stamp manufactured by Pampered Chef. I find it the easiest way to efficiently and easily make great ravioli.
Recently one of my readers asked if I made pasta. Yes, most certainly. When I was much younger and when I lived at home with my parents we rolled it by hand and cut it by hand. Now I have one of those handy doohickeys made by Atlas that makes it a whole lot easier, a hand crank pasta machine. Sometimes I still cut it by hand if I want to make papradelle, the really wide ribbons of pasta.
My machine came with a ravioli maker, but I do not use it. I also had one of those aluminum, flat plates that took a sheet of pasta, which, in turn, was pressed with this plastic cupped thing that made space for the filling. You then put a second sheet of pasta over the top and rolled the rolling pin over it to press and cut the ravioli apart. It didn’t work very well either.
If I want to make ravioli, I make them by hand. I did find a round ravioli maker which hand-stamps out round ravioli at remarkable speed made by the Pampered Chef that I use often.
If you have read my earlier blogs, you know that I make ricotta, as well, and often make it part of the filling with spinach or pesto and sometimes ground chicken.
How do I make pasta? One cup of flour to which I add a pinch of salt and one large egg. I mix this in a bowl with a table fork until mostly together. I run this crumbly mixture through the pasta machine. As it starts to coalesce, I pick up more crumbs and flour, which didn’t mix in initially, until it is all together after going many times through the largest opening of the machine. I fold the sheet in half and put it through the machine until it “pops” like bubble gum when going through. If you put the raw edges down through first, eventually the folded edge will pop. When it does you are ready to start decreasing the opening width thus making it thinner. When you have it as thin as you would like, cut as you wish, either by hand or with the cutter on the machine. Leave on the counter to dry while you boil salted water for cooking. Remember that homemade pasta that is still soft takes a lot less cooking time than dry pasta.
My husband usually makes the pasta while I make the sauce. By the time he is ready, I am ready. The sauces we make a simple, often cubed, boneless, skinless chicken thighs browned in some butter, freshly chopped garlic, chopped tomato, some basil or pesto and some parmesan cheese. The tomato provides the juice needed.
I have also used a tin of drained, smoked oysters with fresh mushrooms, a little basil, rosemary and thyme and cream for another simple sauce. Prawns may be substituted for the smoked oysters. Fresh peas, spinach, onions, both green and regular, bacon and much more can make a beautiful fresh pasta dish. Just use your imagination. I use it to clean out the fridge of all kinds of things lurking there. Green or black olives, red roasted peppers, pepperoccini (sp?), salami, prosciutto, blue cheese, the list is endless.
It can be as complex or as simple as you like. The thing that makes it really special is the homemade pasta. It has a different texture than any store-bought dry pasta.
Remember you can use it for other things too, like wonton, lasagna, Chinese dumplings, cannelloni, little purses with all kinds of surprises, tied with chive stems. I have used these for appetizers and they look very fancy.
Don’t have a pasta machine? You can watch for one at the thrift store which is where I have bought several, cheaply. You can roll the dough out with a rolling pin and cut it with a knife, which was the way I made it for years before I managed to get a machine at the thrift store.