every time I make fresh pasta, I use a different recipe. With different
proportions. A different procedure. Occasionally there’s a bright color, such
as beet or spinach. Sometimes different flours.
making ravioli, the type of pasta doesn't mean as much to me as the stuff
that's on the inside. The filling makes the ravioli.
You can look
at that statement three ways, really, and they are all important: quality,
balance, and quantity
The first way
is something you have seen here on Cocoa & Lavender quite often: the
quality of your ingredients matter. They define the end product.
If you buy
artisanal cheese, your ravioli will be a work of art. If you use fresh herbs,
you will be able to taste the garden in which they were grown.
if you use processed, low fat cheese and old, dried herbs, you can only imagine
what I’d say you’ll produce. (This is a G-rated blog, after all...)
way – balance – is also key. If your
filling is too wet, you run the risk of making the pasta soggy. If it is too
dry, you can end up with mealy pillows of sawdust.
There is the
flavor balance. For example, too much of an herb can be bitter. The saying is
true: less is more.
aspect of balance lies in the pairing flavors. Respect the integrity of your
ingredients. If your filling is comprised of delicate flavors - fresh cheeses,
for example - be gentle with herbs and spices. If robust - perhaps duck confit
or wild mushrooms - you can be a little more aggressive with the add ins.
The third way
to consider "the filling makes the ravioli" pertains to the quantity
of filling you use. I have seen recipes that call for a heaping tablespoon of
filling, which is fine if your ravioli are the size of a twifler. (A twifler is
a small plate: think hors d'œuvre or salad or desert plate. That is a total
2 1/2-inch to 3-inch raviolo, you need only a rounded teaspoon of filling. I know
you want more in there, but you will only regret it when all your hard work
breaks into smithereens when it hits the boiling water. Again, less is more. In
fact, that applies to boiling too; don’t. Cook at a rapid simmer not a full
recipe follows all my rules. I used locally-made goat ricotta from Fiore diCapra (one of our local goat cheese artisans), a little fresh marjoram from our garden, and the zest of an organic
lemon. I used Parmigiano Reggiano that wasn't local, but I used the best I
could buy. And when I stuffed them, I used a rounded teaspoon of filling, and
not a single one broke.
And, you know
what? The ravioli were perfect. If I do say so myself.
3/4 cup flour
1 cup fresh goat ricotta
chopped fresh marjoram, plus extra
zest of a lemon
a couple of
grates of fresh nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper
butter, melted and kept warm
on a board and make a well. Add egg, oil, and salt; using a fork, whisk the egg
and incorporate flour until it begins to come together. Continue mixing and
kneading by hand until you have a smooth and satiny dough. Let rest for 20
minutes under a damp cloth.
cheese, marjoram, zest, and nutmeg together and season with salt and pepper.
Roll dough to the next-to-thinnest setting (No. 6 on an Atlas machine). Cut out
2 1/2-inch circles - you will need 28. Place a slightly rounded teaspoon of the
cheese mixture on half the pasta pieces. Moisten the edges with water using a
brush or the tip of your finger, top with the other pieces of pasta and seal as
tightly as possible all the way around with dry fingers, pressing out any air
bubbles. Let the filled ravioli sit for 10 minutes under a damp towel Bring a
large pot of salted water to a rapid simmer (not a full boil). Gently slide the
ravioli into the simmering water one at a time. Cook for 2 minutes and, using a
slotted spoon, drain and place on the serving platter. Drizzle with the melted butter
and stir gently to coat. Sprinkle lightly with additional chopped fresh marjoram