How to Make Ravioli
My friend, Bryan, learned how to make ravioli from his Italian grandmother. He was kind enough to offer to give me a hands-on lesson on how to make ravioli.
Ravioli can be made various ways, from the most labor intensive (simply using a rolling pin and a knife) to the least labor intensive (an electric pasta maker). Bryan, who is ever the minimalist, would have loved to teach me the rolling pin method, but to make things a bit easier we used a hand crank pasta maker.
Bryan was a great teacher and I finished off the night knowing how to make ravioli, thinking it was really easy (why hadn’t I done this before?), and having a really tasty dinner.
What You Will Need for This Ravioli Lesson
To follow along with this ravioli lesson, you will need:
- A hand crank pasta maker
- A ravioli cutter if you want fancy edges
- 3 C flour
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 t salt
- 1/3 C water
- Ravioli filling of your choice (if you want to go the sweet route, see my recipe for apple cinnamon ravioli)
Step 1: Prepare the Dough
The first step in making ravioli is to prepare the dough. Basically, you take all the ingredients listed above and mix them together, first with a fork or mixing spoon, then with your hands. However, it’s not quite that basic. The goal is to end up with a ball of dough that is slightly tacky, but that doesn’t stick to your hands. Bryan talked a lot about how it is all about feel: “It just has to feel right.” This lesson could be applied to so many areas of life!
Since you can’t touch the screen, you are just going to have to look at the ball below and take your best guess as to whether your ball is the zen consistency.
If your ball does not feel right, add more eggs or water if it’s too dry and more flour if it’s too sticky. When you are comfortable with it, stick it on the counter and cover it with a bowl so it can rest for 10-15 minutes.
Step 2: Get a Piece Ready to Put in the Pasta Maker
After your dough has gotten a good nap, you’ll want to get a piece ready to put in your pasta maker. The piece should be bigger than a golf ball, but smaller than a baseball. Again, there is nothing exact about it. Be sure to keep the dough that you aren’t using covered up so it doesn’t dry out.
Cover your counter with flour. You’ll need it from here on out. Flatten your piece of dough just a little bit with your hands, and dip both sides of it in the flour.
Step 4: Using the Pasta Maker
You’ll have to read the instructions on your exact model of pasta machine to know how to use it. The basic concept is that you will be running the dough through the machine multiple times. You will start with a wide setting and keep making the pasta thinner and thinner with each pass through. If the dough starts to get sticky during the process, stop and dip it in the flour again. This is especially important as it gets to the end and is very thin. How thin should it be? With the machine Bryan and I used, we made it a 6.
Lay out your thin sheet of pasta on the counter and drop a dollop of your filling on it about every 1/2 inch or so, depending on how big you want the ravioli to be. Use your ravioli cutter to cut the pasta into strips between each dollop.
Obviously, you want to end up with a ravioli pocket, not a strip. To do so, you will need to fold the ravioli over on itself. The trick is getting it to seal really well. You don’t want the pocket to pop open when you cook it.
Since glue isn’t edible (unless you want to count paste that is so loved by kindergartners), Bryan taught me to seal the pasta with water:
- Put a small bowl of water on the table for finger dipping.
- Dip your finger in the bowl.
- Use your moist finger to dampen a square around the filling. I tried to speed the process up by doing this on all of the ravioli at once, but Bryan told me that it’s important to do one at a time. Don’t add the water until right before you are going to fold the piece.
- Fold the ravioli on itself and press the dry side on the wet side firmly with your thumbs to create a good, tight seal. If things got a little too wet for the ravioli to close, add some flour.
- You should have a little bit of extra dough on all of the ends that you cut off with your ravioli cutter if you want the edges to nice. Be really careful not to cut too far in and break the seal.
Note: I fully expect Bryan to read this and say, “Did I tell you that?” If the ravioli master has some more tips, I’ll add them in here for you.
Whether or not you plan on freezing your ravioli, it’s a good idea to lay the ravioli out on a cookie sheet and stick them in the freezer for a few minutes. This will help them to stay together when you boil them.
Step 7: Cooking and Eating!
Ravioli take about ten minutes to cook. One important lesson is to not mix the ravioli with the sauce. Instead, pour the sauce on top of the ravioli – that way they are less likely to break.