SILENCE OF THE RAVIOLI
My mother and grandmother always made homemade ravioli for that real special occasion. It would take them the day to do it. Making the dough, rolling it out to just the right thickness. They didn’t have a pasta machine. Filling the dough with a mixture of ricotta and cheese and parsley.
When they made ravioli they made enough to feed an army. Whatever they didn’t use for the important meal could always be frozen and used for another meal. With such a large volume of ravioli, my mother needed a large flat surface to place them so they would dry. And the largest flat surface she had in the house was my brother’s and my bed.
My brother Richard and I shared a room. We both had twin beds. And besides jumping on and and doing our homework on, we used our beds for sleep and naps. Not an unusual activity for a bed. Don’t you think? Laying ravioli on a bed is unusual, as far as I’m concerned. And laying ravioli on a bed and covering them with a sheet is inviting disaster into your home, in my opinion.
At some point I’m sure my mother announced throughout the house that she was placing the ravioli on the bed in my room. My brother didn’t listen to my mother when she was talking to him, let alone pay attention while he’s playing in the other room with his football cut outs. Yes, my brother would do many creative things to keep himself busy while my mother was cooking and one of them were cut out pictures of football players from the Daily News every day and collect enough of them to place on the floor of the living room and pretend he had a real life football game going on. What can I tell you, we didn’t have Sesame Street back then. Anyway, my point is, he didn’t hear her.
Now, my brother had a hyper active gland in his body to go along with his hyper active imagination. He couldn’t sit still for five minutes at a time. Today they would call it A.D.D. Back then he was just a very active child. But for some reason, on that day, Richard decided to take a nap. Maybe the excitement of his big game tired him out, moving all the paper cut outs around on the living room floor. Or maybe the sirens of the ravioli was just calling out to him. For whatever reason, Richard plopped himself on his bed on top of the sheet that was hiding a layer of ravioli that my mother and grandmother spent hours painstakingly putting together.
When my mother walked in the room with another batch of ravioli to lay on top of my bed my brother’s name could be heard from the roof tops of 77 Street. “RICHARD!!!! YOU’RE ON TOP OF THE RAVIOLI!!!!”, my mother screamed. “I TOLD YOU I PUT THE RAVIOLI ON TOP OF YOUR BED!!!!”.
Right behind my mother was my grandmother running into the room to witness the carnage. “Be’, be’, be’ “, my grandmother muttered. (it sounded like Bed, without the D) My grandmother would say that when she was lost for words and something terrible was happening in front of her.
My poor brother, all he wanted to do was take a nap. And he single handily destroyed every ravioli my mother and grandmother made. They spent hours scraping up the ricotta from the sheet and piecing the little dough pies together again.
I love raviolis, but at that particular dinner I passed on the pasta dish and went straight for the main course. You have to understand how my mother and grandmother didn’t throw anything away, ever. Anyone else would have scraped up the mess and run to Pastosa Ravioli on New Utrecht Avenue and bought a dozen boxes of ready made ravioli. Not my family. They lived through the depression and by hook or by crook, they were going to salvage the un-salvageable.
I laugh about that event till this day. But the sirens of the ravioli are just too powerful, because years later, I did the same thing. You would think that my mother would have learned from the last disaster.
Since my mother and grandmother have made their ravioli I made the investment into a Imperia Pasta Machine with Ravioli Mold Bestseller Set. It’s a great little machine that processes the dough into just the right thickness for ravioli and every other kind of pasta. The old timers did it all by hand, but I’m all for modern technology. The pasta maker produces a sheet of dough that you can use as is to make your ravioli or cut the sheets into different styles of pasta. If you have never experienced the taste of fresh pasta you are really missing out on something special. Here is how I do it.
Homemade Ravioli – This recipe makes 80 small or 40 large ravioli
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 4 eggs
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of salt
Stand mixer method:
In a electric mixer fitted with a dough hook add the flour and salt and mix on low speed. Add the eggs one at a time and continue to mix on low. Add the oil and mix till dough comes together. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and place on a floured surface and continue to knead for about 5 minutes, until you have a smooth elastic ball of dough. If too dry add a sprinkle of water, if to sticky add a dusting of flour.
If you don’t have a stand mixer you will have to mix the dough by hand. In a large bowl beat the eggs with the olive oil. Add the flour and salt and mix with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. Place the dough on a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow to sit for 30 minutes to allow the gluten to rest. This rest period is very important for a good quality dough.
- 3 cups whole milk ricotta (2 pounds)
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup grated asiago cheese
- 3 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
- pinch of nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
In a medium bowl beat the eggs. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Cover and place in the refrigerator.
Assembly of the ravioli
Take the ball of dough and cut into quarters. Cover the unused dough with a damp towel so it will not dry out while you’re working.
Pasta machine method: Take the quarter section of dough and flatten with your hand as much as possible. Pass the dough trough the rollers 3 times with the rollers at the widest setting, folding the dough each time into thirds. Set to the next thinner setting and pass the dough through. Repeat until the dough is passed through the thinnest setting.
Manual Method: Take the quarter section of dough and roll out with a rolling pin to the size you will need for whatever method you are using to make your ravioli. The thickness of the dough should be equal to the thick edge of a knife blade, about 1/8 inch thick. The thinner the better
Lay out the sheet of dough and cut the length in half. One half will be for the bottom of the ravioli and the other half will be used for the top.
Measure out the width of your ravioli cutter and place a good heaping tablespoon of he filling along the bottom sheet spaced out to the size of your ravioli cutter.
With a pastry brush, dampen the exposed surface of the dough with some water.
Place the top half of the dough over the filling and press down gently with your fingers around the filling.
With your ravioli cutter, cut out each ravioli and place the individual ravioli on a floured surface.
If you are using a Norpro Ravioli Maker With Press, lay out the sheet of dough over the plate. Use the die caster to push a dent into the dough.
Fill each hollow with your ricotta filling. Brush the exposed area of dough with a little water.
Cover with the second piece of dough. With your rolling pin, starting from the center, roll towards the ends until you see the metal plate come through the dough.
Turn over the plate to release the ravioli and place on a floured surface.
Repeat till all the dough and filling is used up.
To cook the ravioli, place in boiling salted water and cook for only 5 minutes. Drain the ravioli and top with your favorite sauce.