Ever since I got a pasta machine several months ago, I’ve been playing around with different recipes almost every week. I have to say, although making your own pasta is extra work, like all things homemade, it’s completely worth it. Today I decided to finally try my ravioli press and make some homemade ricotta ravioli with sausage, mushrooms and spinach sauce. If you’re going to make the dough fresh, why not the ricotta as well, right?
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
This was my first time actually making ricotta so I had to do a little research before attempting it. Technically, this is the way to make cottage cheese and not ricotta, but it still tastes amazing.
When making the ricotta, it’s imperative that you have a cheesecloth. Once the milk and cream boil, turn off the heat and add the vinegar. You want to use good quality vinegar since you will be able to taste it in the ricotta. Let it sit and curdle, then strain into the cheesecloth-lined sieve. The first time I made the cheese, I realized I forgot to buy the cheesecloth and proceeded without it. Big mistake. The sieve itself is not fine enough to separate the whey from the ricotta so you end up losing a lot of the cheese. The cheesecloth is, however, fine enough so you can successfully separate the cheese from the whey. I let my ricotta drain overnight to get it on the thicker side.
Now comes the fun part. If you don’t have a pasta machine to roll out the dough, you can use a rolling pin, but get ready for a real workout!
The traditional way of preparing pasta dough is to mound the flour on a clean work surface, creating a well in the center. Carefully crack the eggs into the center of the well. Using a fork, whisk the eggs and slowly start pulling the flour into the eggs. Continue to keep whisking the eggs and flour, until the dough starts to form and the flour is incorporated with the eggs. Using your hands, knead the dough until it is smooth, about 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can use a stand mixer with a dough hook or even a food processor.
Allow the dough to rest for at least 30 minutes to let the gluten rest. This will make it easier to roll out later.
Whenever I roll out pasta, I start by running it through the machine at the thickest setting 6-8 times. I move up the setting one notch and run it through another 5-6 times. I continue to do this until I reach the 3rd notch. When I am finally at the thinner settings, I roll out the dough only once. Why go through this long process? Rolling it out several times at the thickest setting allows the gluten to develop since you are essentially rolling out the dough. This will help make it easier once you reach the thickest setting, preventing the dough from becoming brittle.
Roll out the dough until it is about 1/8 inch thick. Now it’s time to bring out the ravioli press! Lay the first dough sheet on the press, place the filling in the center, and cover with the second layer. Using a rolling pin, gently press down on the ravioli. If you press too hard, the dough will get stuck to the press and make it difficult to take out. Tap the ravioli press on the counter and the ravioli should pop right out.
Remember to put a liberal amount of flour on the ricotta ravioli to prevent them from sticking.
Like with all pasta, heavily salt the water before cooking the ravioli. In about 2-3 minutes, the ravioli will start to float to the top – an indication that they are ready. Drain, toss in the prepared sauce and get to devour this dish!
It took me a little while to finally decide what to pair with the ricotta ravioli. My final decision of a sausage, mushroom and spinach sauce was a perfect choice. The creamy ricotta ravioli paired well with the salty sausage, bitter greens, and hearty mushrooms. This is the best pasta dish that I have created with my machine thus far. Homemade ricotta ravioli for the win!
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