Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Every christmas eve, we make raviolis. From scratch. Dozens and dozens of them. And then we (and our friends) eat them. Dozens and dozens of them. This is not quite as random as it sounds, we are italian after all. My dad did grow up watching his grandmother make raviolis, although she did not make her dough in the food processor and I hear that she rolled it out with a rolling pin and cut each ravioli individually with a water glass and sealed them one by one. We have been doing this for years, for as long as I can remember. To me raviolis will always be associated with christmas, and none will be as good as the ones I eat on christmas eve. The only thing that really changes are the fillings, we have been expanding. This year we had the classic cheese, sun dried tomato, pesto and introduced butternut squash ones. Other than that, my mom always makes the basic filling, my dad always makes the dough, my sister cranked out the dough until I was old enough and then she passed it on to me, we always debate how much dough to make, and which pasta recipe it is that we use exactly. I will post the recipe here later, but for now I will describe the process of making enough raviolis to generously feed a dozen people.

First make your fillings. I am not entirely sure what goes into the fillings as it is a closely guarded family secret. Actually, my mom makes the basic cheese filling in the morning before I wake up which is why I don't know what is in it. I do know that the pesto and sun dried tomato come in tubes of super concentrated paste that we mix with the cheese. I am usually awake for that part.

Next make your dough. It is basically flour, eggs, a bit of salt and some water.

You (meaning my dad) mix it all together in the food processor until it looks like this. Or you could do it by hand, and make a pile of flour with a well in the middle and dump in the eggs. I have never seen anyone do that in real life though, only on tv.

Now that you have the dough and the filling, it's time to assemble the ravioli. We have a snazzy ravioli maker, it "makes 12 delicious ravioli at a time"

And don't forget the pasta machine, you crank it by hand. Every year I mention that KitchenAid does in fact make a pasta maker that you attach to your mixer and it's electric and does not require cranking. Every year my dad doesn't say anything.

Now, once the kitchen has been turned into ravioli central, it's time to begin....

Cut a bit of your dough off, make sure to cover the dough that you aren't using at the moment.

Feed it through the pasta rolling machine. At this point the rollers are set fairly far apart, so the dough is still pretty thick.

But as you work through the settings, it gets thinner and thinner, until it is a lovely long, thin sheet of pasta.

Then I pass the dough down to my dad, who lays it over the ravioli tray, and uses the special secondary tray to make little wells for the filling.

About a teaspoon of filling is put in each ravioli.

Then you fold over the dough.

And then they are sealed up when you roll the rolling pin over them.

You can see the little metal ridges of the tray that divide the individual ravioli.

Then you pop the raviolis out and let them dry.

Do that over and over again, until you have a table full of raviolis.

After awhile, you should flip the raviolis. Also, so that they don't pop when you boil them, we poke a little hole in them with a toothpick. You may also need to do a little quality control and make sure that all of the raviolis have been properly sealed.

Boil them in batches, scooping them out when they are done, not dumping them out as that will break them open (or freeze them for later). And just so you know, the proper way to test for doneness (according to my great grandmother) is to eat one with some sauce on it, so you get the full effect.

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