Finding a cooking companion is kind of like finding a good traveling partner. It’s best if you have a similar level of expertise, a mutual vision of your end result (and are willing to make little compromises along the way) and ideally have a comfort level with one another such that you can do a little ‘kitchen dancing’ in small spaces, if needed. The past two meals I’ve cooked with friends, I’ve been very lucky to have good cooking chemistry – sharing ideas and coming up with REALLY tasty meals, like last night’s fresh ravioli!
Kelly and I are friends through work and since we had a big meeting yesterday, we decided to celebrate by utilizing the pasta attachment left at her house last weekend. We opened a of wine and began to knead, chop, saute, roll and pinch. She had just gotten spinach in her CSA box, and I had mushrooms from mine last week, so we decided to go simple with a spinach-ricotta filling and two different sauces: mushroom brown butter and creamy tomato.
They were great! It was so fun to really see the little Italian pockets of flavor come together and I was shocked at how easy it was. We used spinach and basil in the filling, which yielded a firmer texture than just ricotta alone and the brown butter sauce was really amazing – salty and a little crisp, finished with a squirt of Meyer lemon, which was a bright end note and nice complement to the heavy butter. All in all, a huge success that was the result of a great culinary partnership.
- 2 1/4 cups semolina flour
- scant 1 tsp of salt
- 3 eggs
- 3 tablespoons water
- 3 tablespoons oil
Mix the flour and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl whisk egg, water and oil together. Add to flour and salt. Mix until combined and starting to clump. Turn onto lightly floured surface, pull dough together and start kneading. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth and springy. Note: The dough is tough! Just keep on kneading. You should feel it change textures as you go – first very grainy and eventually much smoother. After 10 min, once dough is smooth, flatten into disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 min.
- 15oz ricotta cheese
- 1 bunch baby spinach
- 2 tbsp basil, finely chopped
- handful grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 egg yolk
- salt to taste
Wilt the spinach in a saute pan. Cool and squeeze out excess water. Chop finely. Combine with all other ingredients in a bowl. Be sure to taste the filling and make sure it’s got enough salt and basil to your liking.
After dough has rested in fridge, remove and roll to about 1/4 thick (or just thick enough to fit into the widest setting on your pasta machine). Note: you may want to cut the dough into a few piece to make them easier to work with. Run through the pasta machine, starting on the widest setting and going down one level after each run through. We went down to 4 on a setting of 1-8. Note: since the ravioli edges are double thick, I would go thinner next time – to level 5 or 6. Lay rolled pasta sheets on a lightly floured counter and place rounded teaspoon sized dollops of the filling on top. Cover with another piece of dough. Gently press the top piece of dough on top of and around the filling, being sure to squeeze out any air around the filling. Lightly press surrounding layers of dough together. Pinch out ravioli with a crimper or ravioli punch. Separate and move aside to wait for cooking.
While assembling ravioli, bring a pot of water to boil. Place several ravioli in the boiling water. After a few seconds they will float to the top, let them hang out there for a few more seconds and remove – totally cook time is maybe a minute. Note: Be sure to test one or two ravioli first! Every dough and water will be different, cook until aldente – it will NOT take long.
Mushroom Brown Butter ‘Sauce’
I use the term ‘sauce’ lightly for this one, because it’s really just brown butter with mushrooms. The mushrooms will soak up a lot of the butter, so they are meaty and rich – you really don’t need a lot of it to make a big impact. Quantities are to adjustable to your liking and how much you need.
- wild mushrooms, rough chop
- ~4-7 Tablespoons butter
- fresh lemon
Heat a tablespoon of butter in a saute pan. Add mushrooms and cook until lightly brown. Note: you can start and stop here while the dough is resting and finish the rest of the way when the ravioli are cooking/done. Melt rest of the butter and as it starts to bubble add back the mushrooms. Cook until butter is browned and mushrooms are crispy. Sprinkle in salt and finish with squeeze of about 1/4 of a small lemon – adjust salt and lemon to taste. Spoon over fresh ravioli.