Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Secret Ingredient in Homemade Ravioli

When meal preparation requires more than a sharp can opener or awesome paper-ripping skills, then I always add my favorite secret ingredient. Love. Yeah, I know, it's odorless, tasteless and makes some teenagers sick, but trust me on this.

Love. The world's perfect secret ingredient. I add it to most of our family meals. And tonight I added lots of it. I made ravioli. From scratch.

I know about half of you are like, "Oh my heck, I could totally never do that!" And the other half of you are like, "Get me started, girlfriend!"

1. Buy a ravioli press that makes large ravioli (2" across or larger). If you buy a ravioli press that makes tiny ravioli you'll be scooping itsy-bitsy fillings with a Sea Monkey food scoop. I bought a 10 square ravioli press from www.surlatable.com. (For those of you who haven't been there, it's like heaven, but much more expensive...) This large press makes manly-man ravioli.

2. Buy a pasta machine. Don't let the word "machine" fool you. It's hand crank and makes a perfect sheet of pasta to lay on top of the ravioli press. I bought mine at a garage sale when I lived in Seattle. Don't fly to Seattle looking for garage sales. Scour your thrift stores or borrow one from your mom (assuming she's a classy lassie).

3. Make the filling. I mixed ricotta (splurge), an egg, a couple cloves of fresh minced garlic (if you use bottled garlic, the garlic fairy won't come!), a shakey-shake of dried basil, sauteed spinach and a grind of pepper. Oh, and a generous grating of asiago (which spell-check does not recognize).

4. Roll out pasta sheets. Your pasta can be made of white or whole wheat. Roll out the sheets to the next to thinnest setting. Lay the first pasta sheet on top of the ravioli press, fill it up with a tsp. of filling, brush water around edges of ravioli and lay top pasta sheet over the bottom filled pasta sheet. Roll a rolling pin over the press to seal and cut your little pasta pillows.

5. Pop those babies out. Either boil immediately or freeze on a cookie sheet then store in a freezer zippie bag.

6. Improve your method. This is my way of saying, "I left a bunch of really helpful instructions out, so try it on your own, and you'll learn the hard way to dust the pasta sheets with flour so they won't stick to the press."

So...where's the love? Well, you can add it to the filling. Or to the pasta dough. Or the boiling water. Or to the melted butter you drizzle over the top of the ravioli.

It makes all the difference.

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