I’ve always loved ravioli. It’s probably my favorite pasta. Only thing – I can’t eat it a lot. I gain weight just looking at it. There’s not enough water or espresso to counterbalance and cancel out the amount of carbs and starch I’d prefer to intake on a daily. My love of Italian food is so real, it’s a real challenge to stay away. They say pasta and bread, at least the white kinds, are the devil. I wouldn’t go that far, but it’s definiltey not so friendly to the stubborn body parts. Their unsolicited permanent residence is a perpetual nuisance.
So even in evil dismay of such a delicious food group, I’ve tackled making my own pasta. It’s been years since I’ve taken the time to knead dough, let it rest, and actually work with it with my bare hands using a rolling pin. I mean who are we kidding?! There are an abundance of good Italian restaurants in DC and anywhere I travel. I can easily forgo the manual labor at home. But if I feel for something gourmet-ish, there are always the fancy shops that offer all varieties of pasta.
But when you have time and want to get your hands really dirty, show off your skills, preferably with an audience, you take a stab at it. Or even better, when Tamron Hall from the Today Show wants you to teach her how to make homemade pasta, after she was inspired by Lady Gaga’s own endeavors at home in making strings and strips of pasta, you just roll up your sleeves and reacquainted really fast. You pull out the stops in reviving an old recipe you’ve always loved.
Of all the options I could have gone for, this mushroom and sage ravioli with a decadent browned butter sauce is one I thought would really inspire Tamron to start making her own pasta, a la Gaga. Shoot, even Gaga may find this post or see the video and want to try it.
There are a few tricks to making really good homemade pasta. We didn’t get to chatting about them all on air, but they’re worth noting.
When making your own dough, make sure you have a good and clean space to work with the flour and eggs. It’ll get really messy really fast. Creating a well — or a “dwelling” place as I call it — for eggs, is always good to have in order to fold in the ingredients.
Then beautiful thing about making your own pasta is that you can add in (much like in the bread process) the ingredients you’d like to flavor your pasta. Cracked pepper, garlic salt, truffle shavings, etc… those are all delicious options that’ll heighten the flavor of your dish. Flavors and coloured pasta comes from dipping it into liquids such as squid ink, making it a lovely black. My next attempt will be a pesto fettuccine. I’ve been dying to make that one.
It’s important to keep your dough balanced — not too dry and not too moist. Your hands, too. As you’re kneading and incorporating the flour and eggs, having warm water and extra flour right at your side is helpful. Slowly add in streams of water to the dough to keep it from drying. If you’ve gone too far, add in a bit more flour and continue working it. You’ll know when you’ve achieved a good ball of dough when it’s elastic and smooth.
When done with the amazing process of working your biceps and showing off your cooking grit, roll up and shape the dough into a lovely ball and wrap it in a moistened paper towel or plastic wrap for about 20 minutes. That’ll keep it from drying out. Allow it to rest before moving on.
You can go way old school and do all of this by hand, from beginning to end. A rolling pin and the like will be your best tools. But, if you’re more into modern cooking, a stand mixer with its hooks, beaters, presses, rollers, and cutters attachments are essential. They’re so easy to use you’ll never really find a need to go back to your grandma’s notes. Plus, the attachments are really helpful in achieving perfect sheets and sizes for the specific pasta you’re mastering. For the ravioli I made, having the pasta roller attachment for the KitchenAid mixer is basic. You’ll need that to crank out a lovely paper thin sheet to fill. Plus you’ll just look like a pro running your quarter doughs through it.
You’ll need different smaller tools for different pastas. For this ravioli, I opted out of the ravioli attachment on my mixer. I found it to be a bit cumbersome. It didn’t give me the control over the shape like I wanted to. It works, but you have to be a bit more experience with rolling and pressing the pasta to get a good layer sheet where the impression will actually work. It didn’t work so well for me so I went the good ol’ route.
Using the aforementioned ravioli attachment is one option. I’m a purist for the most part, so laying down sheets, manually adding my filling with eyeballed spacing, and topping it with a second sheet was so perfect for me. It gave me control of how much filling went it in pocket. Do keep in mind that if you go this route, you’ll have to have a sealing liquid, like an egg wash, to close the two layers of sheets. Brush the edges of each sheet before filling it and then press it using your finger tips. The ravioli cutter came into play at this point. It makes it really easy to cut perfect squares with the pretty trimmed edges. Alternatively, you can take a 1″ – 1 1/2″ cookie cutter and make circular or half moon shapes, pinching the edges with a fork.
The key is to play around and get familiar with working with your beautiful dough. Get to know it. Make it your own.
This browned butter sage and mushroom ravioli here is glorious, my friends. Truly glorious. Its richness saturates the plate. But it’s not pretentious. It’s fancy but not unapproachable. It’s fragrant and sexy. It’s just good.
Make it. Tamron loved it.
If you missed the segment, check it out here! It’s always a good time with my friends in Studio 1A.
(all images are courtesy of the Today Show and used with permission)
Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.
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BROWN BUTTER SAGE AND MUSHROOM RAVIOLI
- 3 cups flour, more as needed
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup warm water to work in
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
- 3/4 cup butter
- 9 sage leaves
- 8 ounces porcini and baby bella mushrooms
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ teaspoon fleur de sel
- 2 teaspoons shallots, finely minced
- 3 sprigs of thyme, picked
- 1 Tbsp. cream
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
- 1/4 cup butter, melted (for dough)
To make the pasta dough:
On clean surface, add all of flour. Carefully crack eggs on top flour. Fold the flour inward into the eggs, using your hands. Knead and fold in circular motion.
Slowly add in water as needed to keep dough moist. Sprinkle in olive oil and salt and continue kneading until you have a smooth dough. Roll and shape into a ball. Cover it with a moistened paper towel and let rest for 10 minutes.
To make the mushroom filling:
In large skillet, heat butter and add sage leaves. Cook until the butter begins to brown, but not burn and sage leaves are lightly crisp. When done, pick out sage leaves and set aside on paper towel. In the skillet with butter, sauté shallots and garlic on medium heat until fragrant. Add mushrooms, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook until mushrooms are tender. Stir in cream and reduce until you have a semi-thick sauce, about 6 minutes. Strain mushrooms really well and reserve sauce.
To make ravioli:
Cut pasta dough into 4 using kitchen sheers. Using your hands, flatten to the size of an appetizer plate, approximately. Using your standup mixer, attach pasta roller. Roll through attachment on the 1st setting. Fold dough in half. Roll through again. Roll on setting no. 2. Repeat. Roll on setting 3 two times. Roll once on setting 4. You want your dough to be thin but not tearing apart.
Add more flour to your counter top working space.
Lay the pasta flat across. Using a teaspoon, scoop mushroom mixture on the 1/4 bottom of the pasta sheet, lengthwise, separating each scoop by 1 1/5″. Top each scoop with a bit of Parmesan. Using a pastry brush, butter the edges all the around. Gently fold over the other half of the dough to meet the other side. Using your pink fingers, press down around the filling towards edge of dough. Make sure to push out any air from pocket. This will avoid the ravioli popping open during boiling. To shape the ravioli use a 2″ round cookie cutter for round pasta or a ravioli stamp for square pasta. If using a cookie cutter, press down lightly the edges using a fork. Alternatively, you can use a ravioli cutter to cut the size you want.
Bring water to a boil. Add 2 tsp. kosher salt. Add ravioli and cook for 3-4 minutes. Strain. Serve in a pasta bowl. Top each serving with browned butter sage sauce. Garnish with sage leaves. Grate more cheese, if desired.