So I braved the homemade pasta syndrome!
I have always dreamt of owning a pasta maker. I had imagined that once I get my hands on that thing homemade pasta will magically make themselves and we shall have freshly rolled pasta every day.
So the day I stumbled upon a good ol pasta machine at the Titus Stores where I was out on my wedding shopping, I was over the moon. In my head I was already the master pasta maker, feeding my family with nutritious, freshly made pasta at the turn of a handle. But the reality could not have been more different.
What ensues is an eggy, floury mess, sweat trickling down your back in the tropical heat and basically breaking your knuckles trying to roll that dough. More olive oil, more flour, more salt, more bad judgments, and if you are the crying type, there would be a few tears too.
TLC, no thank you for making it all look so effortless and glamorous. All those celebrity cooks on TV with perfect hair, perfectly unblemished clothes and perfect kitchens have given us unrealistic expectations of pasta rolling. (Sylvia Colloca, I hate you).
So I made the basic pasta dough – 2 cups of flour to 3 eggs, I let it rest for the standard 30 minutes after kneading, made the filling for my ravioli, assembled the new and gleaming pasta machine and set out to roll my pasta. When the dough started rolling through the machine my heart leaped with delight. But when I peeped at what came at the end, my heart sank.
The pasta was crumbly and torn. It was the end of the world.
What followed was a whole lot of cursing and swearing, sweating, sighs of exasperation, internal ‘I give up’s’ and very verbal ‘I give up’s’ and a whole lot of googling “why is my pasta tearing up”. I tried adding olive oil, warming and working the dough, I tried stretching it and in the end, but nothing worked. I almost stopped the process then and there but I had already made a beautiful ricotta, basil and mushroom filling and the basil sauce was already bubbling away on the stove. So I took out the rolling pin and resolved to do this by hook or crook, set out to work.
I rolled out the dough a little with the rolling pin, but all my might was not enough to thin it to the right texture. So in a final defeated gesture I set the machine to its widest setting and put the rolled dough through the machine.
What came out wasn’t too bad. Encouraged by this I set the machine to a smaller setting and rolled again. The dough was skirting up at the edges but other than that, it was rolling fine. So with a bold move I set the machine to the smallest setting and rolled. And lo and behold a paper thin pasta sheet with only two small holes appeared at the end.
I covered the holes with little bits of dough and rolled over it with the rolling pin. The second attempt went better. And at about the 5th attempt, I was rolling out lovely unblemished sheets, just like I see on TV.
Worried about the ricotta? I know how hard it is to find good ricotta here. Which is why I started making my own which is creamier, tastier and of course, much much healthier. Follow this recipe and make your own ricotta just the way you like it.
Conquered the pasta maker! So proud of myself. However, my arms received a mighty fine workout.
And ladies, if your man is the gyming type, keep him at home if you are planning to roll out fresh pasta. Because he can not only have his bicep-triceps training at home, he can make a meal out of it while he’s at it as well!
I am aware that these are not the best looking ravioli in the history of mankind, but they don’t compromise on flavour. I could have given them nice scalloped edges but trust me when I say that at that point, just getting that dough through the pasta machine felt like a big thing.
- Prep Time : 60 minutes
- Cook Time : 60 minutes
- Yield : 3 servings
To make the pasta
- On a clean dry surface, place the flour in a mound. Make a well in the centre and break the eggs into it. Add salt. Mix until the mixture becomes a dough.
- Knead well. keep aside covered with a cloth towel for 30 minutes
To make the filling
- Combine ricotta, salt and pepper and roughly chopped fresh basil in a bowl. Set aside.
- Heat a wok with olive oil. Sautee the garlic till slightly golden. Add the onions and fry till translucent. Add the mushrooms. Sweat the mushrooms on low heat until most of the moisture has evaporated.
To make the sauce
- Heat a saucepan and add some alive oil.
- Once the oil is hot add the garlic. Saute and add the onions. Sautee till translucent.
- Add in the fresh cream. Let it thicken over low heat. Take off heat.
- Add the roughly chopped basil leaves. Stir through to combine.
To roll & assemble the ravioli
- Knead the dough well until it is soft and malleable. It should not be crumbly.
- With a rolling pin, roll the dough out to about ½ inch thick.
- Set the pasta machine to its widest setting. Run the rolled out dough through the machine.
- Set the machine to a medium setting. Roll the dough through.
- Set the machine to the smallest setting. Roll it through. You should have a thin pasta sheet by now.
You can do this two ways.
Method 1 (This is the method I practiced)
- Cut the dough to similar sized rectangular pieces.
- Place a teaspoon of filling on to a middle of one piece. Apply some water around the edges.
- Place another rectangle on top of it. Apply some water around the skirt of the ravioli and press the edges together so that the two rectangles stick together enveloping the filling.
- If you wish you can now trim around the edges to get a smooth, neat ravioli.
- Roll out 2 similar sized pasta sheets.
- Lay one sheet out on a flat surface. Place 1 tblsp of filling on this sheet about 2 inches apart.
- Apply water (with a brush) around the mound of filling on the pasta sheet.
- Lay the other sheet over it. Press around the edges of each mound of filling so that the two sheets stick together.
- Cut around the edges
- Put a pot of water on the stove with a little salt and bring it to boil.
- Add the prepared ravioli. Boil for about 3 minutes or until the ravioli starts floating at the top. The pasta should be al dente at this point.
- Remove the pasta with a slotted spoon and drain off all water. Add it to the pasta sauce still on the stove on low heat and make sure the sauce coats everything.
- Grate some cheddar cheese or sprinkle some grated parmesan over it and voila! Dinner is served.
The ravioli for me is a velvet wrapped gift envelop. At the first bite, the silky sauce, fragranced by the sweet-zest of basil with hints of garlic envelops your tongue, gliding across with sumptuous luxury. Upon biting into the ravioli you encounter the creaminess of the ricotta fragranced with the basil and dotted here and there with chewy pieces of sweet, juice mushroom. The mushiness of it all is contrasted with the flavoursome bite of the egg pasta, fragranced with basil, piqued at with garlic and soothed with cream. The sharp cheddar provides a wonderful contrast in piercing through all this voluptuousness and makes it a dish of rare balance and finesse.
If you have never rolled pasta before and has never used a pasta machine, this is a daunting and rather cumbersome exercise. But it is not impossible and the satisfaction that waits for you at the end is truly priceless. But if you are an absolute novice at this I suggest you start in the morning itself if you are making ravioli for dinner. Remember, practice makes it perfect!
- Use homemade ricotta for better flavour and texture. Find out how here, it’s super easy.
- Good quality ricotta is crucial for this recipe. I make my own because it is so easy. Here’s how to make it at home.
- If you wish you can use only ricotta and basil as the filling. I discovered this after I sweated the mushrooms so I had to go through with the original plan. If this was the case, you can use the mushrooms in the sauce.
- You can omit the cheddar if you like. Doesn’t make a lot of difference.
- Add a little bit of salt to the water that you are boiling the pasta in to give it a bit of extra flavour.
- Add some freshly chopped basil to finish the dish after taking it off the heat.
- I used basil that I grow in my garden to make this dish. and I have used a basil flower to garnish the dish. Basil flowers are fragrant and wonderfully zesty in themselves and they will keep flavouring the dish as they just sit there on top of the dish.