Monday, February 11, 2013

handmade ravioli & the best filling

This post is photo heavy and this dish was heavy (and awesome).
For that reason I'm gonna jump right in.
Pasta Ingredients: *adapted from Mario Batali's recipe*
  • 3 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 4-5 eggs, depending on size
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil, plus more depending on dough consistency
  • water
Filling Ingredients:
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 3/4 cups (roughly half a normal size log) goat's cheese
  • handful fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 8-10 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon rosemary, fresh or dried will work fine
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon all-spice

First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees, place your sweet potato on a baking sheet with a big slit down the top of the potato and bake it until tender, about 45 minutes to an hour. While that's baking, get out a big wooden cutting board or clear out some serious space on your countertop. Pile up the 3 & 1/2 cups of flour and keep the extra for dusting close by.
Make a well big enough to hold the eggs in the middle of the mound, making sure to keep the sides of the mound in tact.

 Add the eggs and the oil and try not to let it spill over the edge like mine did. ;) Live and learn.
Begin to stir stir stir and slowly incorporate all the flour by pulling it from the inside of the well walls. This is when you might need a little extra oil and a little water, to keep the dough just sticking together, because it's crumbly! When it's combined and in a rough dough shape, wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest for half an hour somewhere warm, like on top of your stove. I couldn't quite get mine in one ball so I did three. No worries if that happens... it actually gave me some creative liberty when forming the raviolis.. they all looked different! :) Also you WILL HAVE EXCESS DOUGH left on your workspace and that's okay... don't try and force it all to stick together. Just scrape it off to the side and re-flour your workspace for when you form the noodles.
While your dough is resting, let's make our amazing filling! Get out your Vitamix, food processor or heavy-duty blender and toss in all the filling ingredients (except the sweet potato because it's probably not finished yet).
Blend it until it's a really smooth, green puree. Set it aside and let's get started on rolling out your dough. If you have a pasta maker, go ahead and use it because it's a little bit of a nightmare to roll this stuff out thin enough if you don't have patience. Luckily, I have a little patience when it comes to dough, considering food prep is my therapy... Roll it out as thin as you can without it tearing... and MAKE SURE YOU'RE CONSTANTLY RE-FLOURING the top of your dough and work surface. That's what it's there for so USE IT!
Now your potato should be ready so remove it from the oven and add the sweet potato flesh to the green puree. Place it back in your Vitamix and blend it JUST until combined. We want it to have some texture, a little lumpy! Nobody likes soupy filling in their ravioli.
Now like I mentioned before, because I had three chances to roll out the dough, I filled them each differently each time. On this one I just laid out the filling straight across the bottom middle third of the dough, folded it over, pinched it all shut and sliced it in a few ravioli pieces... this worked fine except that I then had to re-pinch together each sliced side so the filling didn't come out. No big deal but, probably not necessary.
On this one, I got wise and and made dollops of filling with space for slicing in between. Folded it over on itself left to right, leaving the filling being up against the back of the fold, pinched it all shut, slice slice sliced and re-pinched where needed. I liked this method best.
 you'll want to pinch ones like that really well... otherwise you'll have filling floating in your boiling water. ick.
And you've got raviolis! They're ready to go in the boiling water... but first warm up your sauce and prep your dishes because fresh pasta cooks in half the time pre-made pasta takes to cook. You'll only have these babies boiling for about 5 minutes or less.
I won't give you an exact recipe for this because really, this filling asks for any kind of a light sauce so you can be creative. All we used was a basic marinara to start, added in some greek yogurt and dry white wine and heated it through over medium-low heat.
Pour some sauce onto your serving dishes and place them in the oven to keep warm while you cook the ravioli noodles in batches. Nobody wants cold ravioli, right? Your oven should still be pretty dang hot from baking that sweet potato.
Boil some fairly well salted water and toss in 4-7 noodles at a time, depending on their size. Keep an eye on them and make sure they're not sticking to the bottom or each other. Remove them when they're al dente and place them on a lightly olive oiled plate to wait for the others to finish.
When they're all done, serve it up! Remove the warm serving dishes (with potholders) from the oven, add a few raviolis to each plate, top with the rest of the sauce, drizzle with a good amount of extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary to finish.
YUMMMMMMMMMMM.... we literally couldn't have loved this any more than we did.
 EXCEPT... James did say it wouldn't hurt to add another small sweet potato to the filling... he wouldn't mind tasting more sweet potato flavor. I think he's right! We'll do that exact thing next time.
 As for tonight, however... I will be adding some chicken to all the extra filling we have left over (you'll have a lot left), tossing it with some penne and baking it at 350 for 20 minutes or until bubbling. What a great way to re-use that goodness right? Try it!
Happy ravioli creating to you and yours and don't be afraid to try a different handmade pasta recipe if you've got one that looks great to you! Honey, I need that ravioli stamp down there! ;)

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