Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli

Spinach Ravioli

There is nothing better than homemade ravioli.  Making fresh ravioli is time consuming but rewarding.  Get a small group of family or friends together to help and the task will be done in no time.  Ravioli can be made ahead of time and frozen, unlike lasagna or manicotti.  You can make a great meal in less than 30 minutes by serving with a marinara sauce or browned butter and sage.    

Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli

Difficulty Rating:  Intermediate
Makes approximately 3 dozen large ravioli.

INGREDIENTS:

For the Dough:
1 cup semolina flour
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
5 large eggs
4 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Filling:
2 1/2 cups ricotta (about 11/2-lbs)
1 10-ounce box frozen spinach, defrosted
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg Fresh ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

DRAIN RICOTTA:  The night before, wrap the ricotta in a lint-free, clean, kitchen towel. Place in a bowl and refrigerate overnight to remove excess moisture.

MAKE THE DOUGH:  Place the semolina in a food processor and run for 15 minutes.  Add flour and salt, and pulse briefly to combine. 

Mound the flour mixture in the center of a large cutting board or flat surface and make a well in the middle.  Beat the eggs, water, and salt in a small bowl and place in the well.  Using a fork, incorporate the flour into the egg mixture starting from the middle and working to the outer edges of the mound.  When the dough becomes too tough to work with the fork use your hands and begin to knead in the remaining flour. 

Once all the flour is incorporated knead the dough for about 6 to 8 minutes, until smooth and elastic.  Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. 

MAKE THE FILLING:  Place spinach in a microwavable bowl and microwave on high for 3 minutes. Let spinach cool.  Place spinach in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. 

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, spinach, cheeses, eggs, salt, and nutmeg.  Season with pepper to taste.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

ROLL OUT PASTA:  Divide the dough into quarters.  Work with a quarter of the dough at a time; keep the remaining dough tightly wrapped to prevent it from drying out.  Flatten the dough into a disk about 1/4-inch thick and flour.  Using a pasta machine, roll out dough to 1/16-inch thickness (setting 5 on a Kitchen Aid).  You need to run the dough through the first (thickest) setting two or three times, then through each consecutive setting until you have the desired thickness.  Lightly flour dough if it gets too sticky.

MAKE THE RAVIOLI:  Cut the pasta sheet in half and trim the ends to even.  Working with one half, cover the other half with plastic wrap so that it does not dry out.  Place pasta sheet on a lightly floured board, and place mounds of filling (1-tablespoon each), 2-inches apart, centered along the bottom half of the pasta sheet. 

Fold the other half of the pasta sheet over the fillings. Carefully press along the folded edge, then around each filling mound and towards the outer edge to remove excess air. 

Cut with a ravioli cutter, pastry wheel or a knife.  Place on a clean, floured, tablecloth or lint-free kitchen towels.

COOK THE RAVIOLI:  Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  Carefully add ravioli, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until cooked to al dente, approximately 8 minutes.

TO FREEZE RAVIOLI:  Sprinkle semolina flour on the bottom of several baking sheets and place ravioli in a single layer.  Freeze and then store in plastic freezer bags or storage containers.

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