I’ve (finally) started playing with my new Italian kitchen. I don’t know why I’ve always been a little bit afraid of making pasta. It’s something I’ve thought about, held in the back of my mind, waiting for….someday. Then my cousin showed up with a pasta machine, pasta drying rack, and a ravioli maker one day a few months ago. He got the whole kit and kaboodle for a mere $25 from the thrift store–and all brand new, never used, still wrapped up.
Then I stared at it for a few more months and finally tried it out! And, of course, it was easy, and I had to wonder why I waited so long. It’s also really cool. A pasta machine is such a toy. I’d never even heard of a ravioli maker before. I saw someone make ravioli on a TV show recently and they just rolled out the dough and did it all manually, which works fine, I’m sure, but the ravioli maker makes it a little easier and it’s fun! (If you want to get one, just put “ravioli maker” in a search engine and you’ll find them.)
I used the recipe from the package insert–it’s just a standard egg dough that you could use for all sorts of pasta. The fun part starts when you stick it in the machine!
How to make Homemade Pasta:
3 cups flour (all-purpose or semolina)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Combine all the ingredients (except for water) in a medium-size bowl. Mix together as best as you can then start adding water a little at a time. I find that about 1/3 cup water works for me. Use just enough water to get the mixture to hold together and form into a ball. You’ll have to get your hands in there and knead it until you have a firm but pliable dough.
Set the ball on a floured sheet of wax paper and cut in two halves.
Cover with a damp cloth or paper towel and let rest for 30 minutes then cut the halves in half again so that you have four pieces.
From this point, you can roll it out by hand to make ravioli manually, or use a pasta machine and ravioli maker.
Making pasta is a mess so clear off plenty of space to work. My pasta maker has a clamp to attach it firmly to a counter or table.
The pasta maker is so much fun, have I mentioned that???
Take one quarter of the dough and smush it out into a flat rectangle. Using the fattest setting on the machine, run the dough through.
My machine has a dial on the side that sets the thickness.
Fold it over. Turn the setting one notch thinner and run it through again.
Repeat, running it through one more time, a little more thinly.
This is like Play-Doh and the little contraptions where you could stamp it out in different shapes. A pasta machine is like a grown-up Play-Doh play set.
The other side of the pasta machine, by the way, is the side with the cutters. It comes with the spaghetti and fettucine cutters. I’d love to get the lasagna attachment! But I can still make lasagna, or any kind of pasta, by using the side that rolls the pasta out in a flat sheet. You can cut it by hand however you like from there.
If you’re using a ravioli maker, spray the ravioli maker pieces with oil so the pasta won’t stick.
Lay one sheet of dough over the cutting plate.
Press the forming plate down on top of it to make the little wells.
Remove the forming plate and voila.
Fill it up with whatever you want–so far, I’ve just been using a simple cream cheese and herbs mixture since my focus was more on just learning to use the pasta machine and the ravioli maker than on concocting filling recipes. (And cream cheese and herbs is really good, anyway!)
Using more dough as needed and rolling it out through the pasta maker, add a second sheet of pasta on top. Roll firmly with a wooden rolling pin to seal and cut through the dough.
The dough will pretty much tear away after that, though you might have to lightly encourage it with a knife in any spots where it’s sticking.
Turn the cutting plate over and the ravioli will slide right out. You can push out any recalcitrant pieces.
Cut apart any pieces that are stuck together.
Stash the finished ravioli pieces on a lightly greased baking sheet while you continue to prepare the rest.
You can cook the ravioli right away, or freeze it–it freezes really well and is handy to take out on busy nights. I’ve tried baking and boiling the ravioli, and boiling works much better for me. Add a cream or tomato sauce, and you’ve got dinner.
Next up in my pasta adventure–spaghetti and fettucine! First I need to put together my pasta drying rack. I took it out of the box and it looks like this:
See this pasta recipe at Farm Bell Recipes and save it to your recipe box.