Holy crap. I actually made it this far in Project Food Blog. Can you believe it? I can’t… when I found out on Friday that I was one of the 100 bloggers advancing to Challenge #4, I literally squealed out loud right in the middle of the office, startling several of my coworkers.
So, to all of you who have cheered me on, voted for me, provided moral support (and most importantly, for The Boy, who puts up with my artistic fits of temper when I’m worried I’ve screwed up a challenge)… thank you. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU.
Now, on to Challenge 4. What kind of culinary madness did Foodbuzz ask us to attempt for this challenge? A step-by-step photo tutorial, that’s what.
I initially planned on doing a tutorial on how to make samosas to accompany my post for Challenge #2, but then I had a sudden flash of inspiration as I was going over photos from my trip to Vancouver – how about multicoloured pasta, just like the one I served at my Challenge #3 dinner party?
Most of us, me included, don’t usually have the option going to the Granville Market, where you can buy an amazing assortment of technicolour pasta in every shape and colour you can imagine. However, with a few basic ingredients, a little patience and a pasta machine (or lots of upper body strength and a rolling pin), it’s actually pretty easy to make some of your own.
Plus, making your own ravioli opens up a virtually unlimited number of pasta flavouring and filling options. I’ve kept things simple with a cheese and ricotta filling for the purposes of this demo, but think of all the amazing options – saffron pasta filled with smoked salmon, spinach pasta filled with mushroom, blueberry pasta filled with lemon zest and mascarpone… the
pastabilities possibilities are endless.
So, without further ado, allow me to show you how to make your own coloured pasta at home…
Homemade Ravioli – The Tutorial
1. Start by combining the flour and semolina on a clean work surface. Shape into a mound, then make a small well in the centre. Crack eggs into the well, and add salt and oil. If you’re planning on making coloured pasta, this is when you should add your chosen colouring mixture as well.
Use a fork to whisk the eggs, then slowly mix the flour into the egg mixture, working from the centre outwards until a rough dough starts to come together.
2. Now it’s time to get your hands dirty! Knead the dough until smooth and elastic, dusting with flour as needed if it starts to feel too wet or sticky. Stop when the dough feels sort of like Play-Doh (and, if you’ve used beet, looks like Play-Doh too)
3. Admire your handiwork. Then, wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for about half an hour to let the overworked gluten relax a little. Play some soothing, calming music… Enya, perhaps.
4. Once the dough is loosened up a little, it’s time to roll it out. I’m weak, so I use a pasta machine for this… but if you’ve got biceps of steel and a will of iron, then you could also do this step with a rolling pin.
First, cut the dough into thirds. Trust me, you’ll be happy you did this later, because each little ball will make a giant sheet of pasta. Take one of the pasta and pass it through the machine at the highest setting.
5. Drop the machine to the next-thinnest setting, and repeat. Keep going until you’ve reached the desired thickness.
6. Trim your sheet of pasta into two equal-sized rectangles and lay one of these on a clean work surface. Spoon little dollops of filling onto the pasta, spacing them an inch apart.
7. Brush all of the exposed surfaces of the pasta with egg wash, then top with the second layer of pasta. Using your fingers, gently press out any air bubbles. You want to make sure the filling is tightly snuggled in there, and that all the air has been pushed out.
8. Cut out your ravioli. I’m using a fancy round pasta cutter I bought for this purpose, but a sharp knife will do just fine (you’ll just end up with straight-edged square ravioli, instead of these little crimped round ones).
9. Repeat steps 4 through 8 using the remaining two pieces of dough, until you’ve rolled out and cut out all your ravioli. Tah-dah! Now your pasta is ready to be cooked and eaten with your favourite sauce.
Homemade Cheese Ravioli
Basic Pasta Dough:
1 cup semolina flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 lb ricotta, strained
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Once the dough starts to come together, turn it out onto a clean work surface dusted with a little flour and knead until smooth and elastic. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and place in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling by mixing together all ingredients in a small mixing bowl until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
After half an hour, unwrap the dough and cut into thirds. Cover two of the pieces with a damp towel, and set aside.
Using a pasta maker on the lowest (ie. widest) setting, roll out the first piece of dough. Continue rolling, using progressively thinner settings, until the desired thickness is achieved. Alternatively, roll out the dough using a rolling pin on a clean work surface lightly dusted with flour until very thin.
Trim the sheet of pasta into two equal-sized rectangles and lay one of these on a clean work surface. Spoon the filling onto the pasta in tablespoon sized dollops, spacing them an inch apart.
Brush all of the exposed surfaces of the pasta with egg wash, then top with the second layer of pasta. Using fingers, gently press out any air bubbles and seal the two layers of pasta together. Cut out into individual ravioli using a pasta cutter or a sharp knife.
When ready to eat, cook the ravioli in a large pot of boiling salted water for 5-8 minutes, or until pasta is tender. Drain and serve with your favourite sauce.
NOTE: Make sure to cook your fresh ravioli the same day they’re made – otherwise, the moisture in the filling will be absorbed by the pasta, turning it into a sticky, gluey mess. If preparing in advance, cook the ravioli for 5 minutes to set the pasta, and then reheat in boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes just before serving.
Red Pasta: Add 3 tbsp tomato paste.
Orange Pasta: Omit one egg. Add 1/4 cup pureed carrot or pumpkin.
Yellow Pasta: Add 1/2 tsp crumbled saffron threads steeped in 1 tsp hot water.
Green Pasta: Omit one egg. Add 1/4 cup pureed spinach or broccoli.
Purple Pasta: Omit one egg. Add 1/4 cup strained, pureed blackberries or blueberries.
Magenta Pasta: Omit one egg. Add 1/4 cup pureed beet.
Black Pasta: Add 4 tsp squid ink.