Monday, July 25, 2011

Ricotta for our Ravioli

I got it in my head last week that I wanted to make ravioli from the ground up. If I could have grown and ground the wheat for the pasta, I probably would have. But that's not in the cards at this point, and I'm not nearly that patient anyway.

Most of the steps for this process were things we'd done before. We make fresh pasta regularly ('cause it's just so dang tasty!) and we've made our own tomato sauce before as well. So it came down to the filling. We were just aiming for a basic cheese ravioli, so there's not much to it, which meant we needed to make our own ricotta. This recipe from Serious Eats caught my attention right from the google search. Fresh ricotta in 5 minutes or less? Sign me up!

Conveniently, this cook advocates the use of a microwave to heat the milk to the desired temperature. When we made cheddar cheese a few months ago (post to come someday in the future) heating the milk felt a tad bit painstaking. But then, I may have been taking it a tad too seriously as well. Maybe.

In process, we discovered that making 1/2 cup of ricotta in 5 minutes or less is probably possible, but making the 2 cups that we wanted for our recipe of ravioli wasn't going to be quite so streamlined. We made our ricotta in 2 batches (due to the size of our bowl and microwave) and still the milk took approximately 12-14 minutes to reach 165 degrees, even with our microwave set to high. Apparently twice the milk = triple the time. It's still a much more immediately gratifying process however than it's cheddar cheese cousin, which is aging for 6 months in our pantry (4 months down!). So, it took about half an hour in the end to reach our quota of 2 cups of fresh ricotta. But it was well worth it.

Fresh Cheese!
We make pasta often enough that we have the process pretty speedy at this point. Rolling out the dough only took about 20 minutes so while I did that, Aaron went ahead and mixed our fresh ricotta with the rest of the ingredients for our ravioli filling: parsley, parmesan, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

For my taste, this recipe uses a little too much parsley. Next time, we may omit it all together and use oregano instead. But we're not entirely decided yet. And we had plenty of parsley growing in our garden, so for this round, it made perfect sense.

Once the pasta was rolled (note, it should be quite thin - almost translucent) and the filling mixed, it was time to construct our food:

Once they were complete, we boiled them for just a couple of minutes and topped them with our freshly made tomato sauce.

The finished product:

Verdict: the fresh ricotta really did make a difference. The raviolis were creamier and less rubbery than the ones we've made with ricotta from the store. The other pro is that we can make exactly as much as we need and not worry about needing to find additional uses for sub-par ricotta. I'm sure we'll do it again sometime.  You should, too!

Serious Eats Recipe for Ricotta

Cheese Ravioli
Originally from Mark Bittman

2 cups fresh ricotta
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
1 cup minced parsley
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine ingredients and fill freshly made pasta dough. Boil for 2-3 minutes until tender. Serve with your favorite sauce.