An Inside Job
Make your own ravioli so you can stuff it with great cheese—and a few surprises
Cheese gives some foods a reason to be. Where would a slice of pizza be, for instance, without the bubbly, oozy topping of mozzarella that makes it irresistible? The same is true of ravioli and its similarly stuffed cousins in the pasta family; without their cheese-based fillings, they’d hardly be the plump yummy morsels that make our mouths water. In this roundup of DIY stuffed pasta recipes, cheese—in various textures and flavors—teams up with a select group of supporting ingredients in each of four amazing fillings. The result is homemade raviolis that are so good they should come with a warning: You may never be able to eat storebought again.
Fresh pasta is surprisingly easy to make and handle (like an edible Play-Doh!). And it’s very cost-effective compared to purchasing fresh pasta. But if you’re not equipped with a home pasta-making machine, or the time to use it, don’t despair; pick up several sheets of store-bought fresh pasta or a package of wonton wrappers. Any of these options will work as a vehicle for the best part: the cheesy gems inside.
Place the flour in the bowl of a food processor, fitted with a metal blade. Whisk together the eggs, oil, and salt in a medium bowl until well blended. With the motor running pour the egg mixture into the feeding tube in a slow stream. Process until a slightly sticky dough forms. (If the mixture is too dry, drizzle a few drops of warm water into the feeding tube and continue processing.)
Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough by gathering it into a ball, then pushing the dough away from you with the heels of your hands. Repeat the gathering-and-pushing motion for 1 minute. Press into the dough with the knuckles of one hand, then with the other, several times. Alternate between kneading and “knuckling” the dough until it is smooth and elastic; it should retract when you stretch it. This process will take about 10 minutes.
Shape the dough into a smooth ball, and place it into a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let the dough rest for at least 2 hours at room temperature, or up to 1 day in the refrigerator, before rolling and shaping the pasta. (This is essential to allow the gluten to relax.) If the dough has been refrigerated, let stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour before rolling and shaping.
Cut the dough into eight equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, while keeping the other pieces of dough covered in plastic wrap, shape the piece into a rectangle about 4 by 2½ inches. Set the rollers of the pasta machine to the widest setting, and pass the pasta rectangle through the rollers with one of the short sides first. Continue rolling the piece of dough, decreasing the width by one setting each time, until the dough has been passed through the next-to-the-thinnest setting on the pasta machine and measures about 30 inches long. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough, keeping the other pieces covered with a towel. When all the dough has been rolled into sheets, let them rest about 10 minutes, completely covered with lightly floured towels, before filling and cutting them into raviolis or other shapes.
Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl until well blended. Wrap, and refrigerate until ready to fill ravioli.
Place one of the 30-inch-long dough sheets on a work surface; drop rounded tablespoons of filling down the center length of the sheet, spaced about 2 inches apart. Very lightly brush another long sheet of dough with water, then place it on top of the bottom sheet (moistened side down), lining up the edges of the top and bottom. Press the top layer of dough to the bottom firmly, squeezing out any air pockets.
Cut between the mounds of filling to make raviolis about 2 by 2½ inches. Pinch the edges of each ravioli to seal. Repeat with remaining sheets of dough. Save the scraps of dough, keeping them covered; reroll into sheets, if necessary.
Cook the ravioli immediately (or refrigerate up to 4 hours). Bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil in an 8-quart saucepot over high heat. Slip the ravioli into the water a few at a time, stirring gently. Cook until the pasta rises to the surface and the edges are tender but still firm, about 5 minutes after the water returns to a boil. Remove ravioli from water using a slotted spoon, drain well, and top with warmed marinara sauce.
All these stuffed pastas can be kept frozen. To freeze, place the ravioli or agnolotti in a single layer on a lightly floured baking sheet. Freeze until each one is solid to the touch. Transfer to resealable freezer bags or airtight containers, and freeze for up to 2 months.
Written by Jacqueline Plant
Photography by Mark Ferri
Styling by Leslie Orlandini