If you’re fortunate enough to have friends who love to cook as much as you do, then think about spending an afternoon making pasta together.  My friend Cindy (who had attended a pasta class a few weeks before) came over with her recipe, her notes from class, and a butternut squash puree ready to become ravioli filling.  What can I say?  I happen to have very special friends… 😉

I’d made a pasta dough beforehand, but with the food processor,  and it felt like cheating.  I’ve always been mesmerized by the image of a woman with strong arms and hands breaking eggs over a mound of flour and bringing the dough together. No machines, just elbow grease.  So,  I was thrilled (and a bit intimidated) when Cindy’s recipe started with this:

but just 90 minutes later, we sat down with our hungry husbands to enjoy this:

(adapted from The Fine Art of Italian Cooking, Giuliano Bugialli)

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 TB extra virgin olive oil
Large pinch kosher salt

Place flour in a mound on the counter. Make a large well in the center and put the remaining ingredients in the well. With a fork, mix the eggs, oil and salt then begin to incorporate flour from the inner rim of the well. When the dough is too thick for the fork, begin kneading and work as much of the flour into the dough as possible. Cover with a bowl or wrap in plastic to rest the dough for 30 minutes before rolling.

Cut the dough in 8 pieces, and start passing each piece through the rollers of your pasta machine, starting with the largest setting.  Pass each piece of the dough several times, folding it in half and passing it again through the same setting, until it feels slightly “elastic” as you stretch it.  Once you reach that stage (after 6-8 passes), move to the following – thinner – setting.    As the pasta becomes longer, you might want to cut it in half to make it easier to handle.  Stop at the next to last setting.   Lay the pasta sheets over a lightly floured counter top and form the ravioli with the filling  and shape of your choice. Place the raviolis on a  lightly floured cookie sheet as you form them.  Gently cook them in salted, boiling water, add sauce, and serve.

to print the recipe, click here

(from Cindy’s kitchen; makes 4 light servings)

for the filling:
1 Tbs butter
3 Tbs minced shallots
1 cup roasted butternut squash puree
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons heavy cream
3 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish
Pinch of nutmeg
pasta dough, rolled out into wide ribbons
for the butter/sage sauce:
8 Tbs butter
12 fresh sage leaves
1 Tbs finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
salt and pepper to taste

In a large sauté pan, over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the shallots and sauté for 1 minute. Add the squash puree and cook until the mixture is slightly dry, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the cream and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in 3 tablespoons cheese and nutmeg. Salt and pepper to taste. Cool completely.

Lay the pasta ribbons over a lightly flour counter top,  place 2 teaspoons of the filling spacing the little mounds according to the size of ravioli you want to make. Form the ravioli either as squares or triangles.  Reserve, placing them on a lightly flour cookie sheet.    Place a large pot with salted water to boil, and start preparing the sauce by melting the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet. Add the sage to the butter and continue to cook until the butter starts to brown. Remove from the heat, keep warm.

Cook the ravioli in salted, boiling water until al dente (2 to 3 minutes) or until they float to the surface and turn pale in color.   Remove  from the water and drain well.

Place some of the pasta in the center of each serving plate. Spoon the butter sauce over the pasta. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, sprinkle Parmiggiano-reggiano cheese over each plate and garnish with parsley.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  Cindy pointed out that the most important detail about making the dough by hand is starting with a large “volcano opening” in your mound of flour. Like this.  Most people (me included) make the mistake of starting with a tiny little opening, leading to a  deluge of eggs flowing over the counter top, and considerable culinary grievance.  Make the opening a bit more like a meteor crater, and you will be in great shape.  😉

(click to enlarge)
When forming the ravioli it easier to make several at once, by laying the filling over the pasta, folding it over and cutting the individual raviolo once the full extension of the pasta is filled.   It is important to avoid air bubbles, so gently press the upper layer of the pasta, smoothing out the surface.  I like to seal the edges with a little water, and sometimes use the tines of the fork to lock them in place, but we did not do it this time and all went well.

There’s something particularly elegant about home-made  pasta in general, and ravioli in particular.  Keep the sauce and other dishes as simple as you feel like:  your made-from-scratch pasta will lift the meal to a higher level.

ONE YEAR AGO: Feta Cheese and Zucchini Loaf (a must-try French-style savory cake)

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