The best part about being part of Roni’s family is that we often get together for dinners. Food is what brings people together. Great stories and ideas are born at the table. It always makes me happy when Rachel and Rick invite us over for a big ol' family get-together. It reminds me of my family back home. Before my sister and I grew up and moved away from Romania to pursue our dream jobs, every Sunday we had lunch together with my parents. It was either just the four of us or the whole family with grandparents, uncles and cousins once a month or so. Before my grandparents on my father’s side passed away, Sunday family lunches or dinners happened even more often. Sometimes we’d go to Buna for lunch and to Jolika for dinner. It was great because somehow it always turned into a cooking competition between my two amazing grandmothers, Jolika and Buna.
They both cooked good food but each one of them had their own style. Jolika, my Hungarian grandma, loved to cook hearty comfort food. She preferred pork over chicken and used sour cream in basically everything. Her food was the definition of traditional Hungarian cuisine. Buna on the other hand, has a more refined style and doesn’t shy away from fresh vegetables, although sometimes even she can go crazy with the pork and sour cream. I can’t wait for Roni to try Buna’s specialty - Cornmeal Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
A few couple of weeks ago Roni’s family celebrated Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Although I don’t really know much about Jewish holidays, I love that I get to learn about Jewish culture and traditions. I think I mentioned it before, but the fact that I was raised in a Catholic/Protestant/Orthodox family makes me a…well, I don’t even know what, but definitely a Christian. Roni being Jewish adds to the already many religious holidays that my family traditionally observes, making the entire month of December a Winter Holiday marathon in our house.
Back to Rosh Hashanah. I decided to make ravioli. Initially I wanted to make a chorizo sauce, but was politely reminded that pork isn’t exactly kosher to eat during Jewish holidays. Which is funny because Roni eats bacon at the same pace at which a fat kid eats candy. There’s a good chance she was probably even eating bacon while telling me not bring pork to Rosh Hashanah. Anyway, being under self-imposed pressure to coming up with something cool, I went through my notes and I found one saying “sage sauce for ravioli - A Chef’s Table”. I quickly browsed through all the episodes that I watched, even checked the internet, but unfortunately couldn’t find any reference to sage sauce. I'm not sure what made me write that down, but it sounded good.
Homemade ravioli may sound scary to some and I’m not going to lie to you and say it’s easy, because it’s not. But it’s not rocket science either. It’s easier than baking for sure. So why would you make it, you may ask? Because it’s rewarding and fun to make, not to mention, that it tastes a thousand times better than store-bought ravioli. It’s like tasting a good craft beer after drinking Bud Light your whole life (crazy Americans with your light beers). If you are concerned about the amount of butter and cream the sauce contains just sprinkle it with a good olive oil, sea salt and fresh cracked pepper instead. The subtle taste of the lemon zest and the tart juice will bring that refreshing element to this creamy meal. Buon appetito!
Homemade Green Pea and Ricotta Ravioli with Creamy Sage Sauce
Serves 4-6 people (about 30-35 ravioli)
Prep time: 60 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Inactive time: 25 minutes
Pasta Dough (same as for Tagliatelle)
- 1/2 lb "00" flour
- 2 whole eggs, pasture raised
- 2 egg yolks, pasture raised
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 TBS olive oil, extra-virgin
- 1/2 cup "00" flour, for kneading and rolling
- 1 TBS salt, for cooking the ravioli
- 10 oz ricotta cheese
- 1/2 TBS fresh lemon zest (1/2 medium sized lemon)
- 3 tsp fresh lemon juice (1/2 medium sized lemon)
- 1 cup green peas (fresh or frozen)
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
- 1 1/2 TBS fresh basil leaves, finely chopped (about 8-10 basil leaves)
Creamy Sage Sauce
- 5 TBS butter
- 20 fresh sage leaves
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (must be dry)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
- 3 tsp lemon juice (1/2 medium sized lemon)
- 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3 tsp lemon juice (1/2 medium sized lemon)
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup pasta water
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Start with the pasta. In the center of your work station (preferably a large wooden cutting board) pile up a half pound of flour. Keep the rest nearby. Make a “well" in the center and pour in the eggs and the yolks. Add salt and one tablespoon olive oil and beat the mixture lightly with a fork. Using your fingertips, gradually start incorporating the flour into the egg mixture. Gradually work the dough together until all the flour is mixed in. The dough should be sticky to touch (not to your fingers) and it should hold together. Depending on the size of the eggs, you may need to hydrate your dough if it is too dry by adding a few teaspoons of water.
- Knead the dough using the palms of your hand, until the dough becomes smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Make a ball out of the dough, sprinkle flour, wrap ball in plastic, and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least half an hour.
- While the dough is resting prepare the filling. In a medium bowl mix all the ingredients for the filling. Using a wooden spoon or a spatula stir until all ingredients are well combined. Cover bowl with a plastic wrap and refrigerate.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide it in 4-5 equal parts. Slightly drizzle water over a kitchen towel and cover the small dough balls. You will work with one at a time, so the damp towel will keep them from drying out.
- Take the first piece of dough, flatten it with your hands so that it is 1-inch thick and sprinkle with a little flour on both sides. Using a pasta maker, roll out the dough. Start with the thickest setting and work your way to setting number 6. (1.5 mm)
- To stretch the pasta into a sheet, roll it through the pasta maker on the rest of the settings, going down one level at a time (from thick to thin), rolling it through about 2 or 3 times on each level. The more you run it through the machine, the silkier your pasta will be. If the dough starts sticking at any point, sprinkle flour on it.
- Once you have your sheet of pasta finished, cut into 2.5-3 inch-wide strips if using a ravioli stamp. If you opt to use a cutter instead of a stamp, leave the sheet as is for now because you will fold it over the filling in the next step.
- Place a tablespoon of filling one inch apart from each other along the center of a dough strip if using a stamp, or over the lower half of your pasta sheet if using the folding method. Brush with water the second strip or top half of the dough to moisten it. It will help with sealing the ravioli.
- Gently pat the dough down around the filling to make sure that they aren't any air pockets and the ravioli is sealed.
- Firmly press ravioli stamp until it cuts through the dough. If using ravioli cutter, cut into even squares. Place the ravioli on parchment paper and sprinkle with flour. Repeat process until you finish the rest of the dough.
- Bring a large pot of water and one tablespoon salt to a boil over medium-high heat.
- While the water comes to a boil, prepare the creamy sage sauce. In a large deep skillet melt butter over medium-high heat. When completely melted add sage leaves and fry them for about 1 minute until the butter and sage leaves turn brown. Immediately add white wine and stir. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 4-5 minutes.
- Pour in the cream, stir and bring again to a boil, about 2 more minutes. Add lemon juice and parmesan cheese and stir well. Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer while you cook the ravioli. Stir occasionally to make sure the sauce doesn't burn.
- When the water in the pot starts boiling place ravioli in the water and cook for 3-5 minutes depending on the thickness of the pasta you used. When cut, the ravioli should show no starchy line in the middle.
- Using a sieve or a slotted spoon transfer the the ravioli from the pan to the creamy the sage sauce. When all the pasta is cooked and in the skillet, scoop half cup pasta water and pour it in the skillet. Dispose the rest of the pasta water.
- Crank up the heat to medium. Toss well until all the ravioli is coated in the creamy sauce. Bring to a boil and remove from the heat, about 2-3 minutes. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning.
- When making the dough, make sure that you don't use cold eggs straight from the refrigerator. Let them sit at room temperature at least 10 minutes prior to using them.
- When using the pasta maker, run the dough through the largest setting at least 4-5 times, folding it in half after each roll.
- For more restaurant-like thin ravioli work your way up to setting 7. Number 7 will yield a very thin sheet (about 1.3 mm) making it more delicate to work with. On the up side, the time it will take to cook will be less (2-3 minutes).
- Folding the sheets in half is a quicker method than cutting the sheets into strips. I got used to the strips method, but either will work fine.