If you’re like me, the thought of making homemade pasta is right up there with the thought of knitting your own clothes or building your own car: Sure, theoretically, it’s good. Other people might try it, and when they do, you might think it’s a little cool. But let’s be honest, it’s unnecessary, over-involved, time-consuming and, mostly, way out of your league. Besides, that’s why there are shopping malls! And car dealerships! And hello? Grocery stores with ready-made pasta you only need to boil. Listen, I know.
At first glance, making homemade pasta seems daunting. The very mention of it sends some of us out to buy the latest pasta maker or KitchenAid attachment or, in an even more likely scenario, reaching way back in the cupboards, where our existing pasta maker or attachment has been hiding. We know making pasta takes time, and it might be messy. I know that. Last weekend, I did it anyway.
And when I did, I learned something: when you make it from scratch, the results will be worth it.
The first thing I should tell you is that I hardly ever eat pasta anymore. Partly, that’s because a lot of those boxed pastas are made with flours I avoid; partly, it’s because there’s something I’ve always hated about regular pasta, namely that heavy feeling that comes after you eat it. You know what I’m talking about? You finish your plate, pat your stomach and roll onto the couch, stuck in a motionless overstuffed spaghetti coma? Yeah. I’m not so into that.
So right off the bat, I can tell you two things my very old-school, totally made-from-scratch pasta has going for it: It’s made with spelt flour (remember spelt flour?) and so it’s so much easier to digest, so much less likely to leave you feeling overstuffed. It’s also about a hundred times easier than I’d expected it to be: make the dough, let it rest 20 minutes (while you make ravioli filling!), split it up, roll it out, BOOM: homemade pasta ready to boil.
I made mine into ravioli because, of all the pasta shapes out there, I’ve always liked best those little pillows of ricotta goodness. Here is what happened:
After my dough had rested, I split it into fourths, took one section to a floured surface and rolled the heck out of it. When it was thin enough to see light through (almost like a window pane!), I used the lid of a mason jar to cut out little circles.
I dolloped about a teaspoon of ricotta filling onto each circle and then brushed the edges of the lower halves with water, creating a glue that holds the dough together when you fold the circles in half.
At this point, you could place the raviolis in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and stick it in the freezer, then throwing them into a Ziploc bag to use later (what I did with about 20 or so at the end). Otherwise, they are ready to be plopped into lightly salted boiling water and cooked.
The raviolis take between five and ten minutes to cook, depending on how al dente you like them. I topped these with that meaty tomato sauce from last week (finished it off, in fact!), but next time I’d like to do a brown butter sauce, maybe with sage.
After I’d finished, while I was eating soft, cheesy bites off my plate, I had the most amazing sense of accomplishment. I made ravioli! I can make ravioli! And it tastes like ravioli! It tastes good! That alone is worth the hour or so of work, no kidding. When you make it from scratch, you’ll see.
(Special thanks to my brother, Adam, for taking most of the above photos!)
2 cups spelt flour
3 eggs, at room temperature (although mine weren’t)
1 heaping pinch of salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
*Ravioli filling (recipe below)
Sift the flour and salt together in a bowl or on a work surface. In a small bowl, beat the eggs with the oil. Make a well in the flour and then stir in the eggs and oil with a spoon. Finish mixing with hands and then knead on a lightly floured surface until it comes together into a small ball of dough. Cover in cling wrap and allow to rest for 20 minutes (good time to make the filling!).
After letting the dough rest, divide it in half, then in half again. Take a quarter of the dough and roll it with a floured rolling pin on a floured surface until it is as thin as possible. It should still be stretchy and pliable. Cut out circles using a cookie cutter (or in a pinch, the lid of a mason jar works nicely).
Plop a teaspoon of ravioli filling (see below for recipe) in each circle and brush the lower half of the edges with water, bringing the top half of the dough over to create a half circle/moon shape. The water acts like a kind of glue to help it all stick together. Place raviolis on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper.
When ready to cook, boil salted water and drop raviolis inside for about five to seven minutes. Enjoy!
1 cup of ricotta cheese
Generous teaspoons of salt and pepper
Any herbs desired (I just threw in a little basil)
Mix ingredients together to form filling; chill until ready to use.