Homemade lemon-pepper ricotta-stuffed ravioli with sage butter sauce – Chef Julia Mallon.
I’ve always had this irrational fear of making things from scratch. Why spend 5 hours making pasta when you can go out to the stores, pick up a bag and whip up a dish under 30 minutes? Convenience, right?
Sure. But if you’re one that truly enjoys cooking — you’ll understand the pleasure of putting in a bit more effort into what you cook. The satisfaction you get from getting to say, Hey, I made that! I actually made that!… well, really can’t be beat.
What’s more is just how simple and easy making fresh ricotta and pasta is. Not joking even in the slightest bit. The daunting task of making things from scratch? No big deal.
Thanks to my newfound Chef of a friend, Julia (I am incredibly excited to finally have found a buddy to get nerdy about food with), two easy-peasy recipes that have got me smiling:
1/2 gallon whole milk
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon of salt
In a large pot add milk, vinegar and salt. Bring the milk’s temperature up to 185-200 F. Stir occasionally. The milk will curdle (this is your ricotta!). Remove from heat and let it sit for 10 minutes to continue curdling.
With a slotted spoon, transfer ricotta to cheese cloth in a colander. Let the cheese drain for a dryer product.
Add some lemon and pepper. Salt to taste of course. The outcome is marvelous alone.
If you’re using it to make ravioli, add one egg yolk to the ricotta. It will help bind the cheese when you’re stuffing it into the pasta.
Ravioli (good for two people)
1/2 cup Semolina flour
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
On a flat surface (a counter top in our case), mix the Semolina and all-purpose flours. Create a little hole in the middle of the mound to add egg and oil.
Mix the ingredients together and form a nice round ball with the dough.
Set it in a bowl and cover it with saran wrap. Let it sit in the fridge for at least half an hour.
After letting the dough sit, cut it into portions. With your hands, shape the dough to fit into whatever sized pasta maker you might have. Since we’re making ravioli, a small rectangular shape works best. Roll through, setting the levels each time. Julia’s pasta maker had grades of 1-7. Thus, first start with level one. Roll the dough through and on to level two! I am an amazingly talented poet. So on a so forth until you’ve got yourself a long strip of fairly translucent pasta!
Add the ricotta by the dollop. Make sure that you don’t add too much so that it ends up spilling out the ends when you cut the pasta into pieces. We learned that the hard way. Made for some pretty sad raviolis.
Using just egg whites (the yolk is incorporated into the ricotta), brush around the ricotta dollops. This will keep the two layers (assuming you’ve made two layers of pasta already. Did I forget to mention that? Yes, make two layers) together.
Add the second layer, pressing down and around the ricotta. Using a ravioli “stamp”, as I like to call it, cut out your cute little pastas!
Really, how adorable is that?
Place ravioli’s one at a time into salted, boiling water. Once they start to float you know they’re done.
For the sauce, add butter and fresh sage leaves to a sauté pan. Once the butter has melted, reduce the heat and let it continue to brown. The ravioli should be finished at this point. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the raviolis directly into the sage-butter mixture. And presto! Get ready to dig in.
I realize how much work this would actually be if you were having a large dinner party, but for two ladies on a Sunday night with time to kill, this simple dinner was amazing and definitely worth the wait. Julia and I, needless to say, devoured every single bite. We were pretty famished at 22:00. As I said before, I am thrilled to have befriended another foodie. So what that it took almost 4 hours to finish. Mind you, all of it shouldn’t take nearly as long. We spent most of that time in the kitchen drinking some nice vino while gossiping. Oh and of course taking about (and maybe drooling, just a bit) over foods and dishes we’ve had in the past. For some girls, yoga is the go-to therapeutic form of exercise. For us, it’s cooking!