I’ve always wanted to try making my own pasta, but never got around to it until now. It seems like a complicated task, but as I’m not one to shy away from a challenge, I decided to not only make my own pasta, but to fill it as well. With not a clue what to put in my ravioli, and no back up plan for dinner in case it went horribly wrong, I found a recipe online and got stuck in. I borrowed am still borrowing a pasta roller from Mum to make my life a bit easier, and reduce the amount of rolling out required to get the pasta thin enough. I have to say, it made a big difference to the process, and I’ll probably have a few more goes before giving it back. (I have a terrible habit of keeping Mum’s kitchen equipment on long term loan before eventually giving it back and purchasing my own – sorry Mum!)
I was glad to find a simple pasta recipe online, courtesy of Jamie Oliver, that just used flour and eggs, which luckily I already had at home. Unfortunately, I found that pasta needs the level of kneading which, as Jamie puts it, is why ‘the average Italian grandmother has arms like Frank Bruno’. Great… (If like me, you have no idea who he’s talking about, this is Frank.) As I’m more sparrow than muscle man, I’m sure you can imagine it took a while to bash the dough about enough to get it from floury mess to smooth, silky pasta dough. But, I persevered in the name of food and, of course, this review. On the up-side, as my ‘abs’ were hurting the next day from the kneading, I did manage to count this as exercise, and therefore counteract all the cheese I added. Probably. (I worked this out by process of elimination, of all the things that could have caused the muscle ache. As there were no other physical activities to eliminate, this was a fairly quick process.)
Dough kneaded, I popped it into the fridge to chill, and set about making something to go in the middle. As it turned out, we had half a pack of salami, some mushrooms, and a few different cheeses in the fridge. (There is always at least one type of cheese in our fridge, usually more…) Based on these discoveries, I went for 2 filling options: chopped, fried salami and mushroom, and ricotta and mozzarella mixed with chopped herbs. Inventive, I know. Of the 2, the cheese one was definitely the winner, thanks to its smooth creamy texture, so that’s what I’ll stick for now.
By this point, the pasta dough was thoroughly chilled, and ready to roll. I followed the instructions for the pasta roller, but what it doesn’t actually tell you is how thin to roll the pasta out. As a result, the first few ravioli weren’t so much delicate filled pasta parcels as actual parcels, the filling very well padded and protected by a thick layer of pasta. Not so great. The rest were much more successful, although they still could have been a little thinner, if I wasn’t so nervous about breaking them! But as it turns out, pasta is less delicate than it looks, so as long as you’re careful, thin is fine.
I cooked them in boiling water until they floated, which surprisingly wasn’t long at all, and served them straight away with a sort of beurre noisette drizzled over the top. And lots of cheese and black pepper, of course. The ravioli were surprisingly good, especially the ones with cheese filling, the pasta just needed a little bit more rolling. The beurre noisette I made last minute to go on top though, was lovely.
But would I do it all again? I really enjoyed the process, and have to admit that making and eating my own ravioli was incredibly satisfying! But for a midweek dinner, I’m not sure it’s worth it. Unless you have a couple of hours to dedicate to the process and really want to create something special for dinner, or just love cooking and just want to have a go, you’re probably (I can’t believe I’m saying this) better off buying the pre-made ones from supermarket chiller departments. They’re convenient, come in many different flavours, and don’t require substantial arm muscles to cook them.
However, if you do want to have a go at making your own, I really would recommend the Jamie Oliver recipe here, for its simplicity and ease.
Cheesy ravioli recipe
Serves 2, cooking time 2 mins (prep time up to 2 hours, depending on experience with pasta making!)
1/3 quantity of pasta dough as per the Jamie Oliver recipe above
For the cheese filling to serve 2, I mixed together:
a 250g tub of ricotta cheese
a ball of mozzarella (chopped)
tsp of mixed Italian herbs
pinch of nutmeg
a crushed roasted garlic clove (Optional, I happened to have one in the fridge – don’t ask!)
season with salt and pepper
To assemble, roll out the pasta very thinly (about 1-2mm if you can!) and cut out an even number of 8-9cm circles with a cookie cutter.
Brush the edge of a circle with a little water, and place a teaspoon of filling in the centre.
To seal, lay a second circle on top, and carefully press the edges together. Repeat for all of the ravioli.
Cook in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, until the ravioli float up from the bottom of the pan. Unless you have a wide saucepan, it might be easier to do this in batches to stop them sticking together.
Serve immediately, with your choice of sauce, black pepper and grated cheese.
I’d love to know what you think – have you ever made your own pasta, and would you do it again? Let me know in the comments below!
For an easy stuffed pasta fix, try this Baked Ricotta Stuffed Conchiglioni Recipe