The world of pasta making is a relatively new part of our cooking adventures, and it’s growing on us fast. I love pasta in general, but I have a special place in my heart for stuffed pasta in particular. When I realized that we were able to make things like tortellini and ravioli from scratch, I was pumped. You should be too.
I picked up our pasta roller at an awesome thrift store in our town. I had been halfheartedly on the lookout for one for awhile, but I was surprised and overjoyed when I stumbled upon it tucked next to the dishes at the thrift store. It turned out to be an older (but hardly used) pasta maker model from a great brand, that would have cost me two or three times as much even on ebay. Any of you who are thrift shoppers know about the strange nerdy euphoria you get when you find an amazing deal, and this was one of those moments for me.
Since then we’ve only used it a few times so far, but each time we’ve gotten better and the results have been great. Pasta dough is pretty simple, and making your own gives a lot of potential for coming up with new flavors and concepts that aren’t available in the store. With the stuffed pastas in particular, I’ve found I really prefer our homemade fillings to anything I’ve had out of the freezer section. Don’t get me wrong– it takes longer to make your own pasta than to just boil it out of the box, so it’s worth saving for special projects or unique flavors. But it’s definitely a great way to live more simply by just being that much closer to your food and involved in making it your own.
We’ll almost definitely have more to share about homemade fresh pasta in the future, but for now let’s get on to making some ravioli and tortellini. As always, I’d really love to hear any variations you know of or that you come up with when you try the recipe.
Ravioli and Tortellini Recipe
(makes a bunch, feel free to scale down)
for the pasta dough:
1 cup semolina flour (or all-purpose if that’s all you have)
11/2-2 cups all-purpose flour
for the filling:
most of a big thing of ricotta cheese (32 ounces)
1 tbsp each fresh thyme, oregano, and rosemary (or 1 tsp each dried)
1/2 ounce parmesan cheese
4 ounce shredded mozzarella or a mix of Italian-style cheeses
salt and pepper to taste
Make the pasta: like all doughs, there will be a little give and take with how much moisture/flour you need to get the dough to the right consistency. One large egg is about enough to handle 2/3 cup – 1 cup (total) of the AP and semolina flours. We found it works well to make the dough in our large food processor so it blends quickly and evenly, but you can also do it by hand. Start with the egg, and add in the flour and semolina evenly until the dough is crumbly but still barely sticky. You want something that you can knead, but is pretty much completely dry to the touch.
Next, take a smaller ball of your pasta dough (cover the rest while you work) and put it through your pasta roller at the largest thickness. Do this a few times just to get it smooth and even, then start setting the roller to thinner and thinner settings as you keep passing the dough through. We used the thinnest dough for the tortellini and the next one up for the ravioli. Set aside your dough, covered, until you need it.
Stuff your pasta: mix together the ricotta, eggs, salt, pepper, and spices. Lay out your strips of thin pasta and cut circles in the size appropriate for the pasta. We used metal measuring cups to cut; if you have a pastry ring set that’ll work even better. The tortellini worked well with circles about 11/2 inches wide, and the ravioli were around 2 to 3 inches.
For the ravioli: put about a tablespoon of the ricotta filling in the middle of one of the pasta discs. Wet the edges and seal another disc over the top, pressing out as much air as possible. Rachel found it helped a little to stretch the top circle a little before laying it down, and to fold the edges over slightly to help seal the filling in tightly. Finish (if you wish) by pressing a fork into the edges to make a pattern and more fully seal the pasta shut. Set aside on a plate or pan in a single layer, loosely covered by a lightly damp paper towel or something.
For the tortellini: put an extremely small amount of filling in the middle of one circle. Wet the edges slightly, then fold the pasta over into a half-moon shape and seal by pressing. Again, try to get out as much air as possible. Take the corners of the half-circle and fold them toward each other in the direction of the flat side of the shape, and pinch them together. The curved lip of the pasta will probably fold upward as a result, making a pretty awesome tortellini shape. Again, set aside in one layer for cooking.
That’s the hard part; cooking is easy. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Drop your pasta in the water in batches to cook. Remember it’s fresh pasta, so it won’t take nearly as long as dried to be done; less than 30 seconds in some cases. When the pasta bobs back to the top of the water like a dumpling, you can remove it to drain and dry briefly before serving. If you didn’t seal the pasta well, you’ll have a big disappointing explosion of ricotta in your water, and you’ll shake your head sadly before continuing on with your life.
Serve with your sauce or garnish of choice. Tortellini are one of my absolute favorite pastas, and I love them with tomato sauce, but I’d like to experiment with different fillings and saucing, so if you come up with any good ideas, let me know.
Alright, there you go foodies! Talk to you next time; go get cooking!