You know what I hate? Cooking show lies. I hate when celebrity chefs get on television and say how “easy” something is when clearly half of the work is prep and clean up. Yeah, ok, the activity itself is “easy” but the rest of us living in reality have to wipe down our own countertops we sprinkle the whole darn thing “lightly with flour.” I don’t have 20 feet of stainless steel countertops and a staff to clean up after my kitchen prep allowing me to go from step 1 to 34 without any clean up in between.
In any case, I don’t let the mess of homemade pasta stop me from the endeavor, I am just realistic about what it takes to do this—in a kitchen with less than 3 sq. ft. of counter space, this isn’t “easy.” Not that the act of making homemade pasta is hard. Rather, the prep and clean up take time, and make the whole process a bit of a brew-ha-ha. This is definitely an endeavor for the weekend.
That said, if you’ve ever had fresh pasta, then you know it is worth it. Fresh pasta is light, silky, and delicate. Fresh pasta has an el dente texture that isn’t chewy or tough, and it’s also filling, so a little goes a long way. Frankly, there is no comparison. I view fresh pasta in a different food category than boxed pasta from the grocery store and the same goes for fresh raviolis versus the processed, pre-made stuff in the freezer or refrigerated aisle of your grocery store. To me, it’s like comparing fresh homemade cookies to Oreo cookies. Oreo cookies aren’t bad (in fact, they are quite good), but you just can’t compare them to fresh homemade cookies out of the oven. The same goes for freshly made pasta.
So, a couple of weeks ago, I wiped down our counters, dug out my pasta maker and set forth to make some mushroom and goat cheese ravioli. The process took me about 2.5 hours (I know this is true because I took my first pic documenting this at 5:13pm and the last pic before serving at 7:46 pm.) On an otherwise lazy Saturday, it was worth every minute!
HOMEMADE MUSHROOM AND GOAT CHEESE RAVIOLI
For the ravioli dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
Cornmeal, for dusting
For the filling:
2 tablespoons olive oil
~2 cups mushrooms sliced (I used baby bella mushrooms)
½ small red onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup fresh chives
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup fresh goat cheese
For the Mushroom Marinara sauce:
¼ cup of the sautéed mushrooms, garlic, and mushrooms (reserved from step 1 of the filling (see below)
4-5 cups Easy marinara sauce
Start with the pasta dough. In a large, wide bowl, mix together the flour and the salt and make a well in the center. A lot of recipes tell you to do this on the countertop, but I do this in a bowl because it is easier for clean-up.
Add 3 eggs and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil into the well. (Is it a tragedy that my egg slid out of the well? No, but it is ideal to keep it within the well—then again, this is the reason I do this in a bowl and not on the counter).
Using a fork, lightly beat the eggs, and in a circular motion, gradually mix in the flour, continuing do use a circular motion until you draw in all of the flour to form a ball.
Now, sprinkle some flour on a clean workspace and knead, knead, knead. Add sprinkle the dough with 1-2 tablespoons of flour as needed, but doing so gradually as you knead the dough. The dough should be elastic-y and smooth.
The kneading can easily take 12-15 minutes. Brush the dough with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and wrap in plastic to rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Clean and wipe down your work surface.
While the dough is resting, make the filling. In a large sauce pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and mushrooms and saute for 1-2 minutes, then add the garlic. Continue cooking until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms are soft, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and let the mixture cool, reserving about ¼ cup of the mushroom onion mixture.
While the mushroom mixture is cooling, I make the easy marinara and I add the ¼ cup of reserved mushrooms to the sauce. I let the sauce simmer on very low heat while I finish up the raviolis.
After the mushroom mixture is cool, place the sautéed ingredients in the bowl of a small food processor. Add the salt, pepper, chives, red pepper flakes and goat cheese. Puree until smooth, but not liquid. The mixture should be the consistency of typical ravioli filling. Set aside.
Time to roll out the pasta. Lightly dust your countertop with flour. Cut the ball of dough into quarters and re-wrap the portions you are not using in plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out. Press the dough into a rectangle shape and work it through the pasta machine on the widest setting, stretching the dough slightly as you catch the dough coming out the other side. Continue working the dough through the machine, dusting with flour as needed and decreasing the settings until you get to a 6-7, setting, the dough should be almost paper thin.
Beat the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon of water in a small dish to make your egg wash. On the counter dusted with flour, lay out the long sheet of pasta. Drop in tablespoonfuls of the mushroom and goat cheese filling on the pasta sheet, about 2 inches (4cm) apart. Try to position the filling slightly above the half-way point on the pasta sheet so you have enough pasta to fold over the bottom half of the pasta over the filling.
Brush the top of the pasta sheet and the gaps in between the pasta filling with the egg wash, then fold over the pasta. As you are pressing down the pasta, try to press out all of the air pockets so your raviolis don’t have air in them.
Using a sharp knife, cut in between the filling to separate the raviolis and crimp the edges with a fork. Sprinkle the raviolis lightly with flour or cornmeal to prevent sticking while you make the rest of the raviolis.
In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Place the raviolis in the boiling water and cooking in lightly boiling (not a roaring boil) for about 4 minutes. If you pressed all of the air out of the raviolis, they’ll float when they are done. TIPS: Resist the temptation to over crowd the little guys in the water. I did about 8-9 raviolis at a time. Don’t stir them around. Don’t over cook. Remember this is fresh pasta, it takes just a few minutes to cook. Scoop them out, spoon on some mushroom marinara and serve!