Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Fresh, Handmade Ravioli and Tortellini with Two Fillings

America's Test Chicken consists of two separate chickens, each with her own take on this cooking thing. Check out Chicken One's related blog, A Travel for Taste where she shares travel stories and recipes collected whenever she ventures abroad. And give Chicken Two's new, also-related blog, Poop from the Coop a read. There you can find stories about her personal adventure re-experiencing the kitchen after many years away. Please join our Facebook group to share your own recipes, kitchen practices and know-how. We are also on Pinterest and Instagram.
The complete recipes appear at the end of this post.

From Chicken One:
Ravioli and Tortellini 
There is nothing quite so satisfying as making your own fresh pasta! I've done this a few times, as evidenced by more than one blog post on my travel blog, A Travel for Taste. If you click that handy link, you can find the dough recipe and pictures from the first time Chicken Two and I made pasta together, which was in 2013 in Germany.

So, check out that post and whip up a batch of that dough, roll it out, but don't cut it into strips because this blog post shows you how to make ravioli and tortellini from it. Plus, we're giving you two delicious filling recipes below as well.

My recipe is a mushroom and spinach filling that I kind of made up  myself.
Roll out a thin sheet of pasta dough and place on a floured work surface. Using a tablespoon-sized disher or measuring spoon, place mounds of the filling in increments along the sheet of dough.
Leave enough room between the mounds so that there is plenty of space for the ravioli stamp you are using. If you don't have a ravioli stamp, you can use the rim of a glass or even a knife (for square ones).

Roll out a second sheet of dough and place over the mounds of filling. Press the dough sheets together, making sure to get all the air out before pressing the dough together to seal.

Cut with the ravioli stamp:

Here's a closeup of a finished ravioli with no air inside. If you don't get the air out, the ravioli will burst in the water as it cooks and the whole thing will turn into a huge mess. You don't want that!
Now you can either cook them or freeze them for later. To freeze, place them on parchment on a cookie sheet with space between them. Put the whole cookie sheet in the freezer until the ravioli are frozen. Then you can put them in a tightly sealed bag or container and return them to the freezer.

For the tortellini, it's best to not use the fancy edge of the ravioli stamp, so I just used a cookie cutter to make circles. After you place the filling in the middle, dip your finger in water and wet the outer edge of half the circle. Fold over the dough to make a half-moon, squeezing out all the air again before pressing the edges to seal.
Now comes the fun part. Wrap the half-moon around your little finger with the curved edge upward. Press the two ends together to seal. Next, turn the curved edge down away from your finger. And now you have tortellini!
The good thing about fresh pasta and either of these fillings is that you can mix and match. Fill either pasta with either filling and then top with any sauce you like when you serve them. For the mushroom and spinach filling, however, keep the sauce light because a heavy sauce would class with the flavor. I recommend you melt some butter in a pan with some olive oil, saute some garlic in it, toss in a pinch of salt, and spoon over the cooked ravioli. Strew some chopped fresh parsley over the top as a garnish and you're all set!
From Chicken Two: 
Molded Ravioli

That heading makes it sound almost artistic. Well, I suppose it could be, if this method hadn't been so frustrating! Don't get me wrong, I love making pasta! And there's nothing more satisfying  than making a dish using what I made with my own two little hands.....but jeez! 

Ok, let me start by saying it was the first time I've used this ravioli mold. It probably gets easier with more experience.
Bottom is the mold, top acts as the divider and cutter.
After rolling out the sheet of pasta, cut it in half and gently place one layer onto the mold. (it really helps if the sheet is wide. You really need more around the edges than I'm showing me)
Drop about a tablespoon of filling into each section of the mold. If you underfill, you risk more air pockets later. Took a couple of tries for me to figure than one out! Cover with the second sheet and place the cutting side of the mold on top to form the ravioli.
Here's where I ran into problems. The top is supposed to serve as the cutter. I tried it several ways but it just  didn't cut very well and I wound up removing the ravioli from the mold altogether and cutting each one manually with a knife. Even the rolling cutting tool failed me - the knife worked better. I saw a video demonstrating this mold and the guy used a rolling pin to press the top down and cut, but that didn't work for me either. Bummer!
Here you can see what I meant about the air...gently massage the air out. This is before...
This is after.

So that's my less-than-stellar performance! Keep refrigerated until ready to cook or you can freeze them. I have to say it didn't ruin the taste, which was really good served with a Garlic Alfredo sauce. Next time, I will do it without the mold - just my roller and my trusty knife!

Mushroom and Spinach Ravioli and Tortellini Filling Recipe
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup shallots or onions, finely diced
2 gloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon butter
1/2 pound mushrooms of your choice, finely diced

1/2 cup chopped fresh baby spinach
salt and pepper to taste
In a large frying pan over medium heat, saute the shallots or onions in the olive oil until transparent.
Add garlic and butter; saute an additional 2 minutes.
Add mushrooms and spinach and cook for about 10 minutes until the mushrooms are very soft, almost mushy.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
Use to fill ravioli or tortellini.

Spinach and Ricotta Cheese Filling
1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1 shallot, finely chopped

8 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves

salt & pepper

1 cup ricotta cheese

4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

1 egg

While the pasta is resting, prepare the filling. Steam the spinach and drain well, pressing the spinach to remove all excess liquid. Chop finely. Heat a large pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and heat until hot but not smoking. Add shallots and cook for about a minute, stirring so that they do not brown. Add the shallots to the spinach, along with the ricotta, Parmesan cheese and egg. Taste and adjust seasoning with more salt, pepper as needed.

Use to fill  ravioli or tortellini.

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