Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sun-dried Tomato Ravioli with Ricotta and Spinach Filling [Zack]

We love having dinner parties that have (optional) participation in preparing the meal.  One of our go-to plays is to pre-make pasta dough and have our guest help us roll out the pasta.  Everyone enjoys helping and laughing in the kitchen and it’s always gratifying for guests to eat what they have helped make.   For this recipe, we had some friends over from Switzerland and invited a few more couples.  They all loved cutting out ravioli shapes with the cutter (and even got inspired for some weird ones).

On the pasta dough:  Lately, I’ve been reading a lot about food dyes and chemical additives.  I wanted to figure out a way to color ravioli naturally – I tried adding some tomato paste to the pasta dough.  It really dialed up the color and added a fun subtle flavor.  The tomato flavor is not overpowering, so you can stuff raviolis these with anything that you can think of:  ground beef, lobster, goat cheese, etc.


Process:

Follow the pasta dough process (more details provided here).  Place your flour and salt in the food processor and pulse twice to distribute the salt.  Add the eggs, a 4 or so hydrated sun-dried tomatoes, and the tomato paste.  


Pulse until the dough looks like large breadcrumbs.  Add a dash of water at a time until right before it begins to ball up.  Take the dough out and knead it on a floured surface until it’s smooth – about 5 minutes.  


Cover with cling wrap and place in the fridge to let the dough hydrate.  You can make the dough up to 2 days before you have your party.

In the meantime, dice enough onions and garlic for both your ravioli filling and for your sauce.  Wash your spinach so you don’t have sandy pasta.  In a medium pan, sweat your onions for 5 minutes, and then add the garlic.  After 2 minutes, add in your spinach all at once and cook down.  Sprinkle with a bit of salt for seasoning.  Set the pan aside and let it cool off. 

In a large bowl, dump in your ricotta cheese.   Add in your cooled spinach and mix everything up.  Taste for seasoning and add lots of fresh-cracked black pepper.


Start rolling out your pasta dough (or have your guests do this) and get as many long sheets of dough that your pasta will make.  I like rolling mine out to the 3rd to last thinnest setting.  Add a dollop (about 1 heaping T) of the filling on the bottom half of the dough (horizontally).  Separate them about 1 inch apart so you can fold over the top half.  


Dip your finger in a bit of water and trace around the outside of the dollops of filling.  You don’t want to soak the dough, just dampen it.  This will help your dough stick to itself.  Fold over the top half horizontally over your filling and lightly press out the air in between them.  


Use your ravioli cutter, a round cup, or a knife to separate the ravioli by cutting between them.  If you aren’t using a ravioli cutter, use the tines of a fork to press down the edges to insure a good seal.


Once your production line has finished, start boiling some salted water and preparing the sauce.  We are going to “simulate” a cream sauce.  It’s not totally sin-free because we need to add a bit of cream for flavor, but our chicken stock will take us most of the way. 

Sweat some onions first and then add garlic in a pan with a bit of olive oil.  Add in 1 cup of chicken stock and ½ cup of heavy cream.  Cook down until it’s a nice thick consistency. 

The ravioli need only about 4 minutes in the boiling water since the pasta is fresh.  Gently strain the ravioli into a colander and then place in a bowl with your sauce.  Enjoy the meal!



Ingredients:


Ravioli:
2 cups AP flour4 T of tomato paste
3 eggs
4 or so sun-dried tomatoes
1 tsp salt
a touch of water

Filling for Ravioli
1 medium onion diced
3 large cloves garlic diced
4 cups washed and uncooked spinach
2 cups ricotta

Sauce:
1 cup chicken stock
½ cup heavy cream (don’t get the fat free stuff – it’s filled with chemicals)
½ medium onion diced
1 clove garlic


Music to roll out the ravioli:  Daan - Housewife

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