The Plunge: Homemade Ravioli

13th Jan 2009

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How long do you cook ravioli?  I wondered this precisely the moment after I plunged my handmade ravioli into a raging cauldron of boiling water. It didn't occur to me that it might be an issue. I had always thought you pulled them as soon as they floated, or was that just gnocchi? When I consulted my recipe in The Silver Spoon it said I needed to cook them for 10 minutes, which sounded absurd. I had only cooked my homemade tagliatelle for 2-3 minutes. But I checked with Saveur and one of their recipes said the same thing. I kept checking. Jamie Oliver's Cook with Jamie recommended just 3 1/2 minutes. To make matters more confusing, in the back of the Silver Spoon they feature modern Italian menus by popular chefs, and most of them said to cook it for 2-3 minutes. What?

This is obviously retribution.  I thought I had mastered fresh pasta and could do no wrong.  After lots of success with , I figured ravioli couldn't possibly be that hard.  You just put a bit of filling atop one sheet of freshly rolled pasta, and lay another sheet on top.  Haphazardly cut out the shapes, toss them in water, and they are done.   I really should have known better.  One of our biggest failures in the history of this site was Blake and I trying to make ravioli.  But the problems we experienced before all related to the thinness of pasta, something I did not have to worry about now with my gleaming new pasta maker.  All I had to do was roll the dough out on the smallest setting at it was ready to go.  So, I whipped up a batch of ravioli with spinach and ricotta filling and was rolling right along until I tossed them in the boiling water.

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It was Abby who suggested pulling them out at intervals, to see precisely when they were done.  So, as often is the case at my household, a nice relaxing dinner turned into a science experiment.   The pasta started floating at the 2 minute mark, but the pieces were hard and dry, especially the outer part of the ravioli.  At the 4 minute mark I noticed a slight difference, but it wasn't until the 6 minute mark that I noticed a big change.  The parts that covered the filling became tender and soft.  The edges were still much harder.  By 8 minutes the pasta covering the filling was perfect, tender and succulent, but the outer edges were still a mess.  It wasn't until 10 minutes that the edges began to loosen, but then the other parts of the pasta were over cooked.

I realize now that my biggest problem was the overlapping pasta sheets.  But now I just have more questions.  Should the filling come right up to the edge, or should there be a little overlap?  If the pasta separates the filling can just fall out.  But that would be a whole lot better than the nearly inedible edges of the pasta.  I found myself cutting the edges off, and giving them to my dog.

Obviously the size of the ravioli is important.  I realized afterwards that the recipes that called for a shorter cooking times made smaller raviolis, something that didn't occur to me in the heat of the moment.  I suppose next time I'll try making smaller bite-sized pieces. It's still hard to shake the failure.  They weren't awful, but after such success making basic fresh pasta I had hoped I could easily make this jump.

Anyone know a great place to start for a ravioli novice?

Spinach and Ricotta Filled Ravioli


Rinse 1 1/2 pounds of spinach with water and then toss it in a large pot with out drying it.  Cook over medium heat until the spinach wilts and reduces dramatically in size, about 5 minutes.  Add more water if it is too dry and burning on the bottom of the pot.  When done transfer the spinach to a colander and let it drain.  Press more water out with paper towels until the spinach is relatively dry.  Then chop on a cutting board.


Dump the chopped spinach in a large bowl and add 3/4 cup of ricotta cheese, 1 egg, a small handful of parmesan, and a sprinkling of salt.  Stir until well combined.

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For a sauce I used this marinara sauce from Saveur.  It was quite good.


I made the pasta dough exactly like I had when making tagliatelle , except that instead of stopping at the second to the last setting, I put the dough through that last setting to get it as thin as possible.


I placed about 1 tablespoon of the spinach filling at regular intervals.  Around the edges of the filling I brushed a little water on for a seal.


Then I put another sheet of pasta on top.


Carefully my wife and I tried to from them into raviolis, removing as much air as possible from the filling.


Then we cut them into as much of a square as we could manage.


We topped them with a little of the tomato sauce and sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.


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