A penny for your thoughts… It’s time for a little pillow talk, Italian style. And since any and all Italian conversations lead back to food, let’s talk about the delicious, soft pillows that are ravioli.
A ravioli by any other name would taste as sweet… Although the term ravioli is used broadly for filled pasta, the many names, shapes, and sizes change regionally. From agnolotti to triangoli, from anolini to pansotti to tortellini, it all depends on the locale, and then the filling and the shape… and of course, local pride and custom.
The photograph shows ravioli a mezzaluna (half-moons) filled with ricotta and spinach. They’re served in a simple butter sage sauce. To be sure, you can buy decent ravioli at a good Italian market. Or you can spend a few hours making spectacular ravioli at home. I like to recruit my family and make a party out of it.
Ed Garrubbo, Editor
For the pasta
Make a mound with the flour on a clean work surface. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add a pinch of salt and the beaten eggs. Use a fork to carefully incorporate the eggs with the flour. When thoroughly combined, use your hands to knead the dough for 10 minutes until smooth. (Of course, you can use a kitchen mixer with a knead attachment to accomplish this task). Tightly enclose the dough in plastic wrap and set aside for 20 minutes. (The quantity of flour to egg may vary depending on egg size, flour type, and other factors.)
Cut the dough into 4-6 pieces of equal size. Use only one piece at a time (leaving the remaining dough wrapped in plastic). If you are doing this the-old fashioned way, use a rolling pin to roll it out on a dry, floured surface - fold it back and roll again. Repeat this process until a thin sheet of pasta is achieved. Alternatively, pass it through a pasta machine until thin, or until it goes through the second thinnest setting at least twice. At this point, you can cut the pasta to the desired length, shape, and width. After cutting the pasta, you can cook it immediately or refrigerate it for up to two days or freeze up to two weeks. (Before storing, let it dry for a couple of minutes, dust with flour, let dry for another 30 minutes, then fold into the familiar nest shape, and wrap in plastic.)
For the filling
In a large bowl, use a wooden spoon to beat the ricotta for a minute or until smooth. Beat in the eggs and add the cheese. Mix in the spinach, salt and pepper to taste.
Cut the dough into 4-6 pieces of equal size. Use only one piece at a time (leaving the remaining dough wrapped in plastic). If you are doing this the-old fashioned way, use a rolling pin to roll it out on a dry, floured surface - fold it back and roll again. Repeat this process until a thin sheet of pasta is achieved. Alternatively, pass it through a pasta machine until thin, or until it goes through the second thinnest setting at least twice. Use a 2-inch cookie or biscuit cutter, or juice glass to cut the pasta into rounds.
Add the spinach-ricotta filling to the middle of the round. Use your finger to dab the edges with egg yolk. Fold in half and use your fingers or a fork to press down and seal. Repeat this process until all of the dough and filling are used.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a gentle boil.
Heat the butter in a skillet, add the sage and cook until the butter browns.
Add the ravioli to the boiling water and cook for 3 – 4 minutes after they float to the top. Use a wire mesh strainer or slotted spoon to remove them from the pot and add to a warm serving dish. Pour the butter and sage sauce over the ravioli.
Serve immediately with grated Parmigiano.