I’ve never made ravioli from scratch before, and they were the highlight of the day. The cranberry bread, mushroom sauce, and apple pie all came out various degrees of tasty, but thewere something else. I’m going to share the recipe (to the best of my memory) below.
We got started around 10:30 with baking the sweet potatoes, mixing up the bread, and prepping the crust for the pie.
Then we broke for a “light” lunch – cheese and crackers. But it turned out to be heavier than we planned, because the cheese was addictive. We splurged on two nice, imported cheeses from Whole Foods, neither of which we’d had before.
The first was Tallegio, a semi-soft, rinded cheese that’s most similar to brie, but sweeter and a little bit nutty in flavor. It was creamy and almost-but-not-quite soft enough just to spread on the crackers.
The other, cocoa cardona, was at the opposite end of the spectrum – a hard, tangy goat’s milk cheese, and as the name suggests, it was aged with cocoa powder smeared on the outside.
It wasn’t sweet at all, but the cocoa made it rich and gave it a nice edge. It was about all I could do not to eat them all at once. (It’s about all I can do now not to get them out of the fridge for “inspiration” while I write this post.)
After lunch, we started the ravioli. Making the filling was easy and quick (a mixture of mashed sweet potato, cheese, and seasonings); shaping the ravioli was less time consuming than I expected.
And easier than many other filled foods I’ve made. (Assuming you use the right amount of filling, about a teaspoon, the ravioli were easier to work with and to seal than dumplings, wontons, or stuffed pastries. If our pasta wasn’t exactly refined-looking, it also didn’t leak, even a little.)
The hard part was rolling out the dough. We used about a pound of egg pasta, which consists of flour, a couple eggs, a pinch of salt, and enough water to hold it all together.
We had the benefit of a pasta maker, which we hadn’t used before yesterday, and it was a big help but didn’t stop the pasta from being long and unwieldy.
You can see in the pictures how long the strips were – and know that many of these we actually cut in half so they’d fit on the counter!
I didn’t get any pictures of the pasta going through the machine, because it was really a 4-hand process. However, the dough is really forgiving stuff.
It didn’t tear, didn’t stick to itself too badly, and didn’t get pulled out of shape as we passed it awkwardly around and around.
The process goes like this: you cut off a piece of the dough (we cut it in thirds), flatten it, and pass it through the machine on the widest setting. If it isn’t quite smooth, you can fold it over on itself and pass it through a few more times.
Then, you move the machine to the next narrower setting, pass the dough through, move to the next setting, pass the dough through, and so on until you get the thickness you want.
Technically easy, but logistically complicated, because your fist-sized ball of dough quickly becomes a thin strip several feet long.
If you don’t have a pasta maker, you could almost certainly roll it out by hand and cut it into 2-inch strips, but the benefit of the machine is that everything comes out fairly uniform.
Plus, cranking the machine is much easier than rolling by hand (I know this, because I also made pie yesterday, and rolled that crust by hand).
The best part? We not only had a filling dinner, but we now have several meals worth of frozen ravioli waiting for us in the future!
Sweet Potato Ravioli
Adapted from Deborah Madison’s “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone” (highly recommended)
- 1.5-2 cups mashed sweet potato
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/4 cup toasted pecans, finely ground
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/3 cup cream cheese
- salt & pepper
- 2 cups flour
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 eggs
To make the filling, mash the sweet potato with butter. Once it’s fully cooled, stir in the other ingredients, season to taste, and set aside. (Refrigerate if not using immediately.)
To make the pasta, measure out the flour and make a well in the middle. Add the other ingredients (except water), break up the eggs with a fork, and stir it all together.
If it won’t come together into a ball, add water, just a little at a time, and stir it all up until it holds together. Knead the dough until it’s smooth, then cover and let it rest a few minutes.
To shape the pasta, roll out the dough into long strips (2 or 4 inches wide) using a pasta maker or a rolling pin.
The dough should be very thin but not so fragile you can’t work with it. (Mine was almost transparent when it was done.) On each strip, place a heaping teaspoon of filling in the middle of each 2-inch square, for half the length of the strip.
Dip your finger in water and wet the edges and the spaces between the filling – this will help the dough to seal.
Then fold the other half of the dough back over the filling, working slowly and pressing around the edges to seal it. Then, cut them apart with a knife and place the finished ravioli on wax paper.
You can cook them immediately in (gently) boiling water for 4-5 minutes; if not, cover them with wax paper so they don’t dry out.
To store them for the future, place them on trays in the freezer until frozen, then keep them in a plastic bag.