Well Dined

28May/130

Fresh Homemade Pasta!

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I have been wanting to learn to make my own pasta for years, so I was super jealous when my friend Melissa (you know her by now) got a pasta roller for Christmas.  I had been thinking about getting the Kitchen Aid attachment (versus the hand crank kind) but it is very expensive and I had read reviews about them breaking and being hard to clean.  Melissa said that her manual roller was very easy to use, and invited me over to try it out / teach me how to use it.

Our first experiment was Spinach Ravioli with a Creamy Tomato and Veggie Sauce - yum!

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The first step is to make the filling.  Saute diced onion in butter, then add in frozen spinach (thawed and drained) to cook out any liquid.

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Add in ricotta, Parmesan, and an egg yolk.

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Season with salt and pepper and mix it up (I think a little nutmeg would be awesome, too).

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The pasta dough is super easy to make - flour, eggs, and a little bit of water or olive oil go into a food processor, pulse, done.  Melissa has a ravioli press/mold (which you can see in action in this post), but we decided to try hand forming them this time.  Roll out the dough, place mounds of filling along it (a small cookie scoop works great for this), top with another sheet of dough, and press to seal.  (After trying both methods, I prefer the ravioli press.  I like how tiny and uniform the ravioli turn out, and I think it wastes less dough.)

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You want to press down all around the mound of filling to ensure that there are no pockets of air (which will cause the ravioli to burst while cooking).  Then, using a knife or pastry wheel, cut out individual ravioli.  Extra ravioli can be frozen.  Freeze them on a floured tray before putting them in a container so they don't stick together.  You can cook them from frozen, just add a few more minutes.

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Boil in salted water for just a few minutes, until they are floating and soft.

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After you drain them, they will look something like this.

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Now for the sauce - saute onion, bell pepper, carrot, and garlic in butter and olive oil.

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Add in canned diced tomatoes an simmer.  Puree and add cream and Parmesan to the sauce.  That's it!

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Fresh, hot, super delicate ravioli with a thick, hearty sauce packed with veggies and flavor - this was awesome.  Definitely worth the effort!

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We also wanted to try out the cutting attachment for the roller so (on a different week) we made Spinach Fettuccine with Feta Alfredo.

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First step, roll out the dough into a sheet.  I don't have the recipe for this dough because Melissa made it ahead of time, but it should be easy to find one online.

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The sheet should be thin enough to see the outline of your hand behind it.

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Next step, roll it through the cutter.  This machine comes with 2 cutter sizes - spaghetti and fettuccine.  You really want to flour the crap out of the roller before you do this or the dough will stick and get caught in the gears - we learned the hard way.

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Drape those gorgeous strands on a pasta rack while you work.  This is to prevent them from sticking together.  If you are making a large batch, you must dry the pasta completely before storing it.

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Cook for just a few minutes in salted boiling water.  We chose to top ours with a super delicious and light Alfredo made with butter, shallots, sour cream, heavy cream, feta, and Parmesan.

Let me tell you - after these 2 meals, I went right out and bought myself a pasta roller.  I love it so much!  Here is a list of what I use:

CucinaPro Imperia Pasta Roller
Norpro Ravioli Maker
Norpro Drying Rack
Wilton Pasty Wheel

Spinach Ravioli with Tomato-Vegetable-Cream Sauce
adapted from The Complete Book of Pasta and Pioneer Woman via Smells Like Brownies
Serves 2-4, about 36 ravioli

Pasta:
2 cups flour
3 eggs, beaten

Filling:
2 tbsp butter
1/2 small yellow onion, diced
10 oz frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 cup part-skim ricotta
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan
1 egg yolk

Sauce:
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 small yellow onion, diced
1 medium carrot, shredded
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 15oz can petite diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp sugar
salt and black pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan

Pulse the flour in a food processor to evenly distribute and aerate.  Add the eggs.  Process until the dough forms a rough ball, about 30 seconds.  (If the dough resembles small pebbles, add water 1/2 tsp at a time; if it sticks to the side of the bowl, add flour 1 tbsp at a time.)

Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead until smooth, about 1 minute.  Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for at least 15 minutes or up to 2 hours

Make the ravioli filling. Heat the butter over medium heat and saute the onion until translucent.  Add in spinach and continue to cook for 3–5 minutes, until any excess liquid has evaporated.  Remove from the heat and let cool to room  temperature.  Mix in cheeses and egg yolk; season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Prepare the pasta sauce.  Heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat.  Saute the onion, then add in the carrot and bell pepper, and lastly the garlic.  When the vegetables become tender, pour in the tomatoes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Lower the heat and continue to cook the sauce for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to develop.  Remove the sauce from the heat and let cool about 5 minutes.  Puree, then return to the pan.  Stir in the cream and the Parmesan.  Cover the sauce and keep warm while assembling the ravioli.

Roll out the pasta dough using a pasta roller.  Set the thin sheet of dough onto a lightly floured surface.  Drop small balls of spinach filling (about 1 scant tbsp) onto the pasta rectangle, two wide and six long.  Leave at least 1 1/2 inches between each ball of filling.  Lay a second rectangle of pasta over the filling layer.  Seal the edges around each ball of filling.  Cut into squares with whatever cutter you have available.

Boil the ravioli, about a dozen at a time, for 4 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the ravioli from the pot to plates.  Top with sauce and a sprinkle of extra Parmesan.

Feta Alfredo
by Melissa
serves 2-4

1 tbsp butter
2 shallots, minced
1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup feta
3 tbsp grated Parmesan

Melt butter in small saucepan.  Add shallots and sauté over high heat until fragrant and beginning to brown.  Lower heat to medium and add sour cream.  Stir for 15 seconds and then add cream and feta.  Stir until feta is completely melted.  Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan.  Immediately toss sauce with drained pasta and serve warm.

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