Versatility, thy name is ravioli

Gretchen McKay
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Homemade pasta might seem like a job for experienced cooks, but the truth is anyone can do it if they’re willing to practice.

This dough is super easy to stir together, and even easier to work with. Just be sure to let it rest for at least 10 minutes so the gluten strands relax and create a strong, pliable and roll-able dough.

Once you’ve got the hang of rolling out dough, either by hand or with a pasta machine, ravioli should become your specialty. The dumplings can be filled with any combination of cheese, meat and/or vegetables. If you get a system going and make several batches at a time, you’ll always have pasta in the freezer for dinner.

These ravioli are filled with cooked spinach and ricotta, with a hint of lemon zest to make them bright. They’re finished in a simple sauce of lemon olive oil, butter, a little more zest and a sprinkling of fresh basil.

Lemon butter sauce adds bright flavor to homemade spinach and cheese ravioli.

Lemon Spinach Ravioli

For dough

  • 21/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 cup very hot water

For filling

  • 12 ounces baby spinach
  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 egg whisked with a little water

For sauce

  • 1 tablespoon lemon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • Shredded basil, for garnish

Combine flour and water in a large bowl. Stir to combine into a large ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at least 10 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add spinach and cook just until it turns bright green, about 15-20 seconds. Drain, and when cool, squeeze dry between paper towels and then chop.

Combine ricotta, egg, parmesan, chopped spinach, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and lemon zest in a medium bowl and stir to combine.

To form the ravioli, cut dough into 4 evenly sized pieces. (It should be slightly sticky.) Add extra flour as necessary for rolling. Form each piece into a 2-by-6-inch rectangle. Recover the dough with the plastic wrap.

Lightly dust work surface and a rolling pin. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll dough into a 4-by-12-inch rectangle. Place 6 rounded teaspoons of filling about 1 inch apart down the center of the dough. Fold dough over the filling. Brush egg wash on sides of dough and in between the filling. Press down around the edges of each of the ravioli with your fingertips.

Cut ravioli into small squares with ravioli press (It will automatically seal at the same time). Or cut into small squares with a knife and press down around the edges again with your fingertips to seal. Place finished ravioli on a baking tray and continue forming remaining ravioli.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add half the ravioli and cook until the ravioli float, stirring occasionally, about 3-4 minutes. Drain into a large bowl and cook the remaining ravioli.

Meanwhile, melt butter with olive oil in a large saute pan. Add melted butter to bowl with cooked ravioli along with shredded basil, lemon zest and remaining salt and pepper. Gently toss to coat and serve immediately.

Serves 4-6.