There’s everyday food and then there’s special occasion food. Homemade ravioli are not the sort of thing most of us are going to whip up on a weeknight. Or – let’s be realistic, here – even an average weekend.
But a while ago, I started daydreaming about making a very small batch of ravioli. Something manageable and fun and even a little zen rather than a marathon all-day affair with flour everywhere and pasta drying on every flat surface. I imagined tender little pasta pillows with a really savory filling and a simple sauce. I pictured myself rolling out a small sheet of pasta dough with my rolling pin. No pasta maker required was a must in this fantasy, since I gave my pasta maker away years ago to a friend – may she get more use out of it than I ever did!
I continued the scenario in my mind with two artfully arranged plates, music in the background, and candles on the table.
In support of this fantasy, I ordered a ravioli cutter from Amazon.
Then I made a batch of rich homemade ricotta cheese.
It was go-time.
Ricotta and wild mushroom ravioli
1-1/2 cups flour (plus more as needed)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1 cup fresh, whole-milk ricotta
1/2 cup chopped wild mushrooms (reconstituted dried mushrooms work fine)
To make the dough:
Mound the flour on a work surface and sprinkle with the salt. Make a deep well in center of flour. Pour oil into well and crack the egg into it. Use a fork to gently mix the egg and oil together, then gradually incorporate surrounding flour a little at a time. As egg mixture absorbs flour, add water one tablespoon at a time, just until the dough becomes wet and sticky. Generously sprinkle the dough and work surface with additional flour. Knead the dough, adding flour as necessary to prevent sticking, until it’s elastic and smooth, about five minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set aside to let rest for half an hour.
To make the ravioli:
If you have a pasta maker, use it for this step. If not: divide dough in half and work with one half at a time. On a well-floured piece of parchment paper, use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a large oval, as thin as you can get it (about 1/16 inch thick).
Spread a generous layer of ricotta cheese over half of the pasta oval, leaving about a 1/4 inch margin. Sprinkle with wild mushrooms. Fold dough over filling.
Pressing firmly, run ravioli cutter around outside edge of entire half oval of dough. This will crimp edges together and cut off a narrow strip of dough. Run ravioli cutter the length of the dough packet, in about 1 inch strips, then repeat in the other direction. This will crimp and cut your ravioli into squares.
Repeat with second half of dough.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Carefully add ravioli, then cook, uncovered, at a gentle simmer for about 8 minutes. Pull out a ravioli and test. If it tastes tender, cooked, and not doughy, the ravioli are done. Turn off heat and remove ravioli with a slotted spoon, rather than dumping into a colander.
Top with sauce (this pesto is a great choice) and eat. Leftovers will keep well for lunch the next day.