Monday, November 2, 2009

If A Tween Can Make Homemade Ravioli, You Can Too!

As you will see from the pictures throughout this post, my son shows you how EASY it is to make homemade ravioli from scratch for a family of six, including in our case, triplets.

If this boy can do this with such ease, I'm willing to bet you moms and dads might be able to have just as much fun making this Italian specialty for your own family.  Or, better yet, let your kid make this for you, like mine did.  Besides ending up with a delicious, healthy, and homemade authentic dish, another plus to having your child do the ravioli making is that it will keep at least one of your children busy so he can't cause trouble with the other kids in your household before dinner.

What's even more amazing about this ravioli making adventure is that the kid is doing it with a hand crank vintage pasta maker (not one of those fancy expensive electronic ones).  And the story gets better still.  This particular son loves kitchen gadgets and thrift and antique shops equally so naturally it was he who discovered this gorgeous 1960s vintage (but never used) stainless steel pasta maker, made in Italy, in the dusty back room of an antique store in Tucson, Arizona which even came with complete directions, all in Italian!  He prefers kitchen items that are simple in design, so I was thrilled to pay just $15 to buy this gadget for him which makes not only ravioli, but fettuccine, angel hair, and regular spaghetti, as well.

The wonderful treasure has only has a few parts, so it is easy for you-know-who to clean it (that would be mom who is always picking up kitchen messes).  BTW, I bought the old tin cookie cutter you see here for 25 cents in Canada last summer (part of a set of three graduated circle cutters that are also excellent for making cookies and donuts) to add to his growing collection of old-fashioned kitchen contraptions that often are more fun to use than their modern descendants.

Any recipes meant for a pasta machine (and also the filling and sauce) can be used to make your ravioli, but wanted to share the directions my son used since we spent much effort translating it not only from the original Italian into English but also to convert all ingredients from the metric system into measurements in common use in U.S. kitchens.

RAVIOLI w/ Ricotta Cheese and Chopped Spinach
Served with Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce

Pasta Recipe - Ricetta Base Per Pasta Fatta In Casa
Don't panic, making this is not as hard as these words are to pronounce. The recipe used for the pasta translated into English simply means Basic Recipe for Homemade Pasta and requires only two ingredients flour and eggs.  To make enough pasta for 6 people (including 4 hungry tweens) he used 2-1/2 cups flour and 4 slightly-beaten eggs following these steps:

1.  Carefully pour the flour onto a wood cutting board creating a small mound, then hollow out the center slightly like the crater of a volcano and pour the eggs into it.

2.  Using a fork slowly blend in a little flour into the egg at a time into the hole in the center being carefully not to break down the wall of the mound to avoid the liquid spilling off.

3.  After most of flour is blended knead by hand into a soft ball working for about 5 minutes. Let the dough rest for about 1/2 hour.

4. Then using the floured cutting board & a wooden rolling pin, flatten part of the dough into a sheet  (working with a small piece at a time) until is flat enough to fit through the thickest setting on your pasta maker, then repeat cranking pasta through progressively thinner settings until you reach the desired thickness of pasta sheets. See the directions with your pasta maker for the exact way to do this as settings vary greatly on both hand crank and electronic machines.

5. Using a circular tin cookie cutter cut out circles to the desired size you want, making a top and bottom the same size for each ravioli. Put a small spoonful of the cheese spinach mixture (see recipe below) in the center of each bottom circle and then place a top circle of pasta on each ravioli and apply gentle pressure around edges to seal (dip fingers in water before doing this).

6.  Bring large pot of water to rolling boil and add desired salt. Then, gently add raviolis to the boiling water and cook until they rise to the top (about 5 minutes) being sure to stir carefully to be sure they don't stick. Lift from water with slotted spoon and serve with spaghetti sauce (your own homemade, or do as my son has and use a jar of premium chunky style sauce of your choice).

Filling - Ricotta Cheese & Spinach
2 cups of fresh spinach chopped (or 1 box of frozen chopped spinach)
2 cups of ricotta cheese
1/2 cup of grated Romano or Parmesan Cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 Tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
Salt & pepper (optional)

1. Heat frying pan without any oil and saute on medium heat until most of the liquid from the spinach has evaporated (about 5-10 minutes, depending on the spinach). Be sure to keep mixing with a wooden spoon so it doesn't stick and saute till dry.
2. In a small bowl mix the ricotta cheese, Romano or Parmesan, egg, and chopped parsley together; add salt and pepper to taste as desired.
3. Follow directions above to assemble ravioli using this filling.
4. Don't forget to offer Merlot or Chianti to the adults eating this wonderful dish. 

Buon appetito! 
(Enjoy your meal)

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