With so many brands making pasta – including our own – you may be wondering why we would write a post about pasta making or why you’d even want to attempt this. The answers are simple. Colavita is an Italian food brand with deep roots in Molise, Italy, which means that our appreciation for the way things were done in the old days is unwavering despite modern culinary advances. Also, homemade pasta just tastes better. For the purpose of this post we’re going to focus on making ravioli, a pasta that we believe tastes best when made fresh. It also happens to be a pasta that Colavita doesn’t produce, so win-win. Now let’s get into this ravioli recipe. First up gather your ingredients and equipment.
Modern advances in the kitchen have made pasta making a lot easier, but to make this recipe easy and doable for the masses we’re going the old school route. On a clean and dry kitchen surface, dump the two cups of Type 00 flour and form into a mound. Then, using your hands or a spoon, create a small well in the middle. This is where you will add your eggs and begin slowly incorporating the flour into the egg mixture to create the dough.
You may only keep all-purpose flour in your pantry or have an abundance of bread flour on hand because the pandemic meant intensive bread-baking. We get it. By all means, you can make pasta with either of those flour types, but be prepared for a different end result. All-purpose flour will give pasta more of a chewy texture and bread flour will be even chewier. Another component to keep in mind when choosing flour for homemade pasta is the grind. Type 00 is a very fine grind so it will produce a much softer dough than semolina, which some homemade pasta recipes call for. Semolina is a coarse durum wheat that’s often mixed with regular flour and gives the pasta a sweeter flavor and different texture. Type 00 flour creates a light, silky and fluffy ravioli, which is what we were aiming for.
After incorporating the eggs into the surrounding flour, use your bench scraper to form the mixture into a loose ball. The dough may be a bit shaggy, but that’s what you’re looking for. Once the dough is formed, begin to knead the dough until it’s smooth to the touch. The kneading process gives breads and pastas their structure. Be sure to add flour to the surface if necessary to prevent the dough from sticking. Using the heels of your hands, push the dough away from you, rotate, fold and repeat this process for about ten minutes. Gently poke the dough with your finger to confirm that it’s ready. You’re looking for the pasta dough to lightly spring back. This is usually a clear indicator that your dough is ready to rest.
Once the desired texture is achieved, it’s now time to rest the dough. Rest it at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, but you can also put is in the refrigerator for up to one day. The resting phase is as important as every other phase when making pasta. It allows the protein strands that were formed during kneading to relax. After your pasta dough has rested, it will be more pliable and less elastic so that its able to hold its final shape.
Now that your pasta is kneaded and well-rested, it’s time to roll it out. This is where division on the best way to make handmade pasta occurs. We went with a manual pasta maker, but some swear by just using a rolling pin and a knife. Both are acceptable methods, but for this post we’ve decided to use the standard hand crank pasta machine. If you have the Kitchenaid attachment, that works as well! Whatever method you choose, we’re confident that the end result will be delicious.
Divide your pasta dough and gently flatten it out using the heel of your hand or rolling pin. Dust the dough with flour and pass it through the pasta maker at its widest setting (or the 1 setting). You want to pass it through each setting three times, folding the dough like an envelope between each pass. After your pasta dough has made its way through three times on that setting, it’s time to go up to the next setting and repeat the process. Depending on your pasta maker, you will want to stop at setting 5. Making your pasta too thin will make it more susceptible to bursting when being boiled. Remember, we’re making ravioli and we want the filling to stay inside!
Here’s where you can get creative. The only piece of advice when deciding what to fill your ravioli with is to make sure the liquid is kept to a minimum. You don’t want pools of water to form when the ravioli is cooking because they’re more susceptible to bursting and ruining all of your hard work.
Lay your now stretched out pasta dough on your kitchen surface (flour as needed to avoid sticking), and prepare a small bowl of water for your brush. Working in teaspoon increments, place the filling on one side of the dough with about two inches in between each dollop.
To seal the dough, apply light strokes of water in between and around the filling before folding the other side over to create the ravioli. Once you fold the dough over, press around and in between each mound of filling to ensure the ravioli is sealed. Using a pastry roller or whatever you have on hand, separate each ravioli and set to the side.
Whether you’re cooking right away or you’re hoping to save for a later time, it’s important that you dust the ravioli with a gluten-free meal such as corn meal, semolina or rice flour. Avoid using regular flour since the gluten will stick to the ravioli and give it an undesirable sticky texture. If you’re ready to cook, bring a stockpot of water to boil along with some salt just like you would when preparing any other pasta. Once the water comes to a rumbling boil, drop the ravioli in and cook for two minutes.
If you’re planning on saving these for future use, we highly recommend freezing over refrigeration. The great thing about freezing ravioli as opposed to other freezer foods is that there is no thawing required. Just drop them in boiling water and dinner is underway.