I'm just going to come clean here. I'm Italian and this is the first time I made homemade pasta. I hear you over there. Can you please stop laughing? I've seen it done before, obviously. My mom used to do it when she got her shiny, new pasta maker in the 80s and, of course, I've heard (over and over and over again) my Dad's stories of my grandma making gnocchi by hand. ("She used to roll it with her fingers just like this. Are you watching? Look. Like this!") However, I never made it myself. I've always been too nervous (Why? It's not like I had to do something hard like breakdown a cow carcass.) and too under equipped to try. Until now.
Photos by Maya Visnyei
Let me see. Who is responsible for this? Well, I guess I could start with KitchenAid. Then there's Chef Lynn Crawford, who is quite frankly the nicest, most engaging and flat-out funniest lady ever, but she's a trouble maker. A simple invitation to a KitchenAid event–showcase the various attachments available for the beloved mixer–started my whole anxiety attack about making homemade pasta. With Chef Lynn Crawford hosting, I knew I had to attend. Scarlett and I are huge fans of her Food Network show Pitchin' In, so it was a big surprise when I told Scarlett she could tag along with me.
On the rainy evening of the demonstration, Scarlett suited up in her hot pink "I love Cooking Shows" T-shirt (thanks Matt and Holly!), pink rain boots and stowed the artwork she created for Chef Lynn in her bag. She did everything a good writer/editor does–witnessed each demonstration, shyly asked a few questions and quite happily ate the offerings. She also fell completely under the spell of the evening's hostess. Like a star-struck teenager staring down a rock star, Scarlett was totally at a loss for words and in awe when she met Chef Lynn. I kind of couldn't blame her since the chef's approachable personality and mountain of humour is an even translation from the TV screen to real life. Plus she was so generous with her time–she basically allowed my daughter to be her cooking sidekick. The highlight was their pasta making hijinks when Lynn and Scarlett decided to make the world's longest lasagna noodle. They even tried to cart it out onto a busy Toronto street. (I have a video of this that I'm sure to whip out one day on Scarlett.) So, at the end of the evening, it was no surprise when Scarlett insisted on leaving with the pasta making attachment.
I'm not sure why but I was still nervous about actually buckling down and making the stuff that happy bellys are full of. However, I soldiered on and found this recipe using spelt flour from recipes.ca and I put together the filling based on Scarlett's very specific instruction: "Just. Cheese. Mommy." (Ok, so basil made it in as well.) I'm not sure why I was sweating the whole process? I'm really quite embarrassed since, when we actually used the attachment, it was ridiculously easy. I may never buy pasta in a box again. Ok, I might but it will only be because I can't carry around that heavy mixer everywhere.
Rain boots on backwards? No worries. The chef's always got your back.
Scarlett's Homemade Spelt Ravioli with Cheese
2 cups spelt flour
3 eggs, room temperature
1 pinch salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup freshly, grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons fresh, chopped basil, plus extra for garnish
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch of nutmeg
For the pasta
In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour and salt. Beat the eggs with the oil.
Make a well in the flour and then stir in the egg mixture with a spoon. Finish the blending process using your hands and then knead the dough on a lightly floured surface. Knead until the dough comes together.
Cover in plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes.
For the filling, in a medium size mixing bowl, mix ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan. Mix in the eggs until incorporated thoroughly. Add the basil, salt and nutmeg and blend.
I rolled mine out using the pasta attachment for my KitchenAid Professional Mixer. I followed the directions for use to a T. The pasta came thin and perfect with only a few passed through the machine.
With no fancy ravioli mould, Scarlett and I laid the sheets out on a lightly floured surface and cut them into lopsided squares, put a teaspoon full of filling in the centre and then topped each with a coordinating sheet. Scarlett used a fork to seal the edges closed.
Drop the fresh ravioli into a pot of boiling water that is heavily salted. Stir them immediately to keep them from adhering together. Allow them to cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until they float to the top.
Meanwhile, warm the sauce in a large skillet over medium low heat. I'm using my girlfriend Angie's homemade pasta sauce. It's the most amazing stuff. I like to call it liquid love because she makes a zillion mason jars of the stuff each fall and stores it for the Winter. To get a bottle of her sauce is an honor and you understand why when you eat it. The stuff is so rich and flavorful but impossibly light. If you're wondering what it tastes like close your eyes and imagine you're feasting on dish of pasta in some teeny restaurant tucked away in a small bustling, shoreline town on the Mediterranean. It's that authentic. It's also that good. She's thankfully promised to share the recipe with us some time soon. And now that it's in writing, it has to happen. Right, Angie?!
Drain the pasta from the boiling water. Pop the ravioli into the sauce and stir to coat. Sprinkle parmesan over the ravioli, stir and serve immediately with an extra sprinkling of parmesan and some fresh basil.