On one of our glorious days off, I had been trying unsuccessfully to get Chris to spend an afternoon cooking with me in the kitchen. This is atypical of us because we both have a very strong presence in our own kitchens and very strong ideas about the way in which we want things done. This translates to: one of us cooks while the other drinks beer/wine on the couch and waits patiently for a plate full of delicious food to arrive in front of them. We rarely help each other let alone cook together. But lo and behold, after completely giving up, having exhausted my abilities to beg shamelessly for his company, he pipes up with a sauce he wants to make! Behold the power of raviolis! So we embarked on our journey, I was to make the pasta dough and he was going to help me roll it out using my new pasta roller attachment for the Kitchen-Aid, I was going to make a scrumptious filling and he was to prepare the hearty sauce.
I made a filling of sweet italian sausage, rainbow chard, ricotta and parmesan to stuff into Michael Ruhlman’s Rich Egg Yolk pasta dough and Chris prepared a delicious (albeit out of season) chunky ratatouille inspired sauce with fresh tomatoes, squash, eggplant, fennel and herbs de provence.
I highly suggest not only making your own pasta dough but taking on a good challenge like making a stuffed pasta. It kept us busy all afternoon! And the result: delicious! Homemade pasta is always better with its lovely chew and fresh flavor and you can create just about any filling you like! Have fun with it!
Sweet Italian Sausage and Rainbow Chard Raviolis
For the Pasta Dough (from Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio):
- 10 ounces all purpose flour
- 6 ounces egg yolks
- 2 ounces whole egg
- 1 ounce water
- 1/2 ounce olive oil
In a large mixing bowl, add the flour and create a well in the center. To the well add the yolks, egg, water and olive oil. Begin to stir the egg mixture into the flour using your fingers. When the dough has formed, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead just until it comes together. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of thirty minutes.
To roll the pasta for the ravioli, cut the dough into four equal portions (a bench knife works exceptionally well here) and flatten to a 1/2 inch thickness with your hands and flour each piece lightly to avoid stickage. Using the pasta roller attachment for the Kitchen-Aid, begin feeding the dough into the roller on the lowest/widest setting which on my machine is a “1”. Feed the pasta through the roller two to three times to get it to take the shape and width of the roller. Fold the pasta sheet in half widthwise and feed through two more times, still on the lowest setting. Turn the roller to “2” and feed through two times, folding in half again in between rolls. Repeat this procedure up to the number “5”. You should be able to read newspaper through your dough when done rolling! Repeat with the other three portions of pasta dough.
*Note: This recipe makes enough ravioli to comfortably feed four people. If you wish to make less you can always freeze half of the pasta dough for another time!
Lay out your pasta sheets on a lightly floured countertop and cover the sheets you’re not currently working with with a barely damp paper towel to keep them from drying out. If you are afraid of your pasta drying out too much you can roll, fill and cut each section of dough one at a time. Working with one of your four pasta sheets, place rounded teaspoon-fulls of your filling about an inch above the bottom edge and about an inch apart from each other along the length of the sheet. Then carefully fold the top half of the dough sheet over to meet the bottom half and cover the filling. Using your fingers, press the dough into itself surrounding the filling to form a seal. Make sure as best you can that you get all of the air out of the center of the ravioli where the filling resides. When all of your dough is pressed and sealed around the filling, cut into squares in between each filling center (a pizza cutter works well for this!). If you feel fancy, you can use a fork to create a ridged edge to your raviolis but I, myself, like a plain edge. Repeat with the other four pasta sheets. Drop the finished raviolis into a big pot of salted boiling water and working in batches, cook for 1-2 minutes or until they float. Remove to a plate using a slotted spoon or a spider and cover with the sauce of your choice!
For the filling:
- 1 pound sweet italian sausage
- 1 bunch rainbow chard, leaves finely chopped and stems thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, finely mined
- 1 shallot, minced
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- zest of half of a lemon
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 15 ounces fresh whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- salt, pepper
In a large pot over medium heat, add the sausage and break up with the back of a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and most of the pink has disappeared. Add the shallot and garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes before adding the chard leaves and stems. Stir them around to help them begin to wilt and add the red pepper flake and white wine to the pot. Cook for 5-6 minutes until most of the wine has been reduced. Finish with the tablespoon of butter and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove mixture to a sheet tray to cool.
When cooled, stir in the cheeses and you’re ready to fill!