Welcome back pasta!
Pasta, welcome back to our world after many years of the low carb lifestyle. A funny thing happened in Italy. Nearly three weeks of eating pasta and pizza every day. Somehow neither one of us gained much weight at all. It seems that walking all day long, and eating modest portions works like a charm. Good news for David, who has been pasta deprived for more than a decade. Things are looking up for him now that we’re back at home at our bed and breakfast in Woodstock, Vermont!!!!
We’ve had lots of rainy weather for the last few days, not so conducive to spending time in the garden, but great for spending time in the kitchen. So, the other day I decided to make ravioli for dinner, which was an absolute blast. I can’t think of a nicer way to spend time – hanging out with my hubby in the kitchen, a nice glass of wine, and lots of flour.
I made two batches of pasta dough, one with King Arthur all purpose flour, the other with King Arthur Italian-style flour. The Italian style flour is much lower in protein than all purpose. We learned about this flour at Mamma Agata’s cooking class in Ravello. She insists that it is the secret to nearly everything that she makes – light pizza crusts, gnocchi, pasta, her famous lemon cake, etc. The folks at King Arthur concurred. They assured me that it would produce incredible results for ravioli. I made the dough with the Italian-style flour first. I used three cups of flour, made a well, cracked in three eggs, and proceeded to incorporate the flour with a fork. Let me confess that this is the first time that I’ve made pasta in many years, so I am by no means an expert on the topic. I incorporated too much flour, and ended up with a pretty dry craggy mess. I added a little bit of water, proceeded to knead for about 8 minutes, and eventually ended up with a cohesive ball.
My second batch went much smoother. I stopped incorporating flour when I had a ball that was not so dry. I kneaded for about 8 minutes, adding flour to my hands when the dough felt a little bit sticky. This dough was far easier to roll and to fill.
I admit that I was a bit disappointed with my (very expensive) Italian-style flour dough. It didn’t roll as nicely, and it had a tendency to tear. But my disappointment ended when we cooked the raviolis – no question, the texture of the Italian-style flour made the most tender ravioli. The all purpose flour is great, but not nearly as melt in your mouth tender as the Italian style. I’m anxious to try making the dough again, making sure not to add too much flour. I have a hunch that better technique on my part will produce better results.
My filling mixture for this stuffed ravioli recipe was inspired by some great local beets and spinach from the Woodstock Farmer’s Market, Maplebrook Farm ricotta cheese, and goat cheese from Vermont Butter and Cheese company.
1 pound of beets (mine happened to be golden)
1/2 pound baby spinach
1 Tablespoon each finely chopped garlic and shallots
1 pound ricotta cheese
4 ounces goat cheese
1 to 2 Tablespoons white truffle oil
Wash the beets, place in a pan just big enough to hold them, drizzle with a little bit of olive oil, cover with foil, and roast in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. Cool beets. Mince finely and add to a mixing bowl.
Sautee the spinach, garlic and shallots in a saute pan with a tablespoon or two of olive oil. No need to cook very long, just until the spinach is wilted. When cool, chop and add to the beets along with the cheeses and truffle oil. (My spinach was not wet, but if yours ends up with liquid in the pan, make sure to squeeze it dry before chopping.) Add salt and pepper, taste, and adjust seasonings if necessary.
If you haven’t already done so, now is a great time to open a bottle of wine. Rolling and filling is going to take some time, so get ready to relax.
I rolled my pasta to the thinnest setting on my pasta roller, and had the prettiest results using the ravioli form shown below. After putting a little bit of filling in each pocket, brush the perimeter with a damp pastry brush. Top with another sheet of pasta, and use a rolling pin to seal and cut the ravioli.
Bring a pot of water to the boil, add a liberal amount of salt. The water should taste salty like the ocean, this will flavor the pasta as it cooks. Cook the ravioli in barely simmering water for about 2 minutes. For the sauce, melt a few tablespoons of butter, add chopped chives. Drain the ravioli, top with the sauce, and add freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Would love to hear back from anybody that tries this recipe. I hope that you have as much fun as I did!
I re-rolled all of my pasta trimmings, and ended up with some lovely fettuccini noodles that are now in my freezer waiting for my next inspiration.