I have long been intimidated by the idea of homemade pasta. I’m entirely comfortable tackling all manner of DIY foods, from jams and pickles to home-cured meats and fish, but there’s just something about pasta dishes that leaves me uneasy.
Recently, though, I decided it was finally time to shake off my pasta resistance and give it a try. It just seemed like a good project to help me push the edges of my culinary comfort zone, which is something I’m always trying to do.
And so I went in search of recipes and tutorials as a guide (isn’t the Internet amazing for that kind of thing?) and came across Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe for Four Cheese Ravioli With Herb Pesto.
It turns out that this is sort of a cheater recipe, in that Giada has you use wonton wrappers for the pasta layer. It was the absolutely perfect starting place for me, however, because it gave me a chance to get comfortable with the folding, wrapping and pinching required in making ravioli. I bet it’d be a good starting place for some of you, too.
After spending nearly 45 minutes prepping my ravioli, I felt like I had a better understanding of how much filling should go into the pasta sheet, as well as the best ways to pinch the edges for a foolproof seal. I think I’m ready to move on to the real thing! If you’re like me, try these ravioli as your Weekender, before tackling more-complex recipes.
Before you start cooking, read these tips:
— Make sure that your cheese filling is quite cold before you start to fill your pasta squares. That way you don’t risk squeezing it out of the edges when you’re crimping.
— Have a damp towel or cloth near your workstation as you’re filling the ravioli. Each wonton wrapper is coated with a fine layer of flour, and it can make the tips of your fingers gummy and hard to maneuver over time.
— If you’re not going to cook the ravioli right away, and you don’t have room in your fridge for the pan, cover them with a clean tea towel and gently sprinkle it with water. This will keep the ravioli cool and prevent them from drying out.
— I found that the amount of filling the recipe made produced nearly 50 ravioli, instead of the 35 indicated in the recipe. I recommend buying wonton wrappers appropriately.
Marisa McClellan is a food writer and canning teacher who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her food (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars. Her first cookbook, Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round, is now available.