To be completely honest, the last two Valentine’s Days have been better than any I can remember, starting with our first Valentine’s together in February 2006. Without the pressure to dress up, make dinner reservations, and spend a hundred bucks on a limited menu at a local restaurant….Brett and I can instead stay inside and just have fun. This year, I started thinking about our Valentine’s menu a week in advance. I eventually settled on PW’s olive bread, homemade ravioli, steamed green beans and white chocolate raspberry cheesecake. The only recipe that I haven’t yet shared is the homemade ravioli.
A few years back, my mom and I actually took a class on homemade ravioli at the Kansas City Culinary Institute. With pasta dough rollers and a professional chef by our side, I remember it being quite easy. This time around, I struggled: its not that the directions were unclear, and I wasn’t frustrated or losing focus. I simply found the pasta dough to be very, very, VERY difficult to knead! I was literally standing on my tippie-toes and bringing my entire body weight down onto the dough, to no avail. Near tears, I begged Brett to come help me. Finally, between the two of us, we were able to get the dough where it needed to be. Later, we teamed up when making the ravioli; Brett rolled the dough sheets until they were paper thin, and I used a glass to cut out perfect circles. We had such a blast doing this “project” together and I was amazed to see that Brett was actually excited and interested in this kitchen adventure.
With sore arms, sore abs, and a growling stomach…dinner was served. Biting into our homemade ravioli was a delicious reminder that the work was so worth it. The ravioli was tender (did you know that fresh pasta cooks in 3-5 minutes? It’s that tender…) and the flavors were intense.
Another culinary challenge…accomplished!
Four-Cheese Ravioli with Sundried Tomatoes and Mushrooms – pulled from a wide range of recipes and websites!
4 C all-purpose flour
6 large eggs
1/2 tsp olive oil
warm water as needed, starting with 1/8 C
2 C whole-milk ricotta cheese
1.5 C three-cheese italian cheese blend
2 large eggs
1/2 TBS dried parsley
pinch of salt + pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz baby portabello mushrooms, sliced
1 package dried shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 package sundried tomatoes, sliced/diced
1 can chicken broth
2 TBS butter
1. Make pasta dough – blend first four ingredients well. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding additional flour or water as needed to reach a smooth and elastic ball of dough. Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and set aside for at least one hour to “rest” the gluten. This makes rolling the dough much easier.
2. Make your filling (this can be done ahead of time). Mix ricotta, cheese blend, 1 egg, parsley, and salt and pepper.
3. Roll out your dough. Start by dividing dough ball into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into a sheet that is 1/10-inch thick. You should be able to see your hand through the other side of the dough. Work quickly, as the dough will try out. When not using dough, keep a damp cloth over it. When each dough sheet is very thin, use a cookie-cutter or a glass to cut out circles. Set circles aside, keeping a damp towel over them.
4. Whisk one egg for egg wash. Make your ravioli: take two dough circles and place a very small amount of filling – approx. 3/4 TBS – onto one circle. Using your fingers, trace some egg wash on the outer edge of the same circle. Pinch both dough circles together very tightly – if you don’t pinch them together well enough, they will separate when boiling. Continue this process until all dough circles are used, ensuring that you cover the ravioli with a damp cloth as you go. At this point, the ravioli may be refrigerated for several hours, until ready to use.
5. In a large skillet, saute portabello mushrooms in 1 TBS olive oil until tender. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add chicken broth, sundried tomatoes and shiitake mushrooms. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover.
6. Heat a large pot of water to boiling. Carefully drop ravioli into water and cook for several minutes. Ravioli will begin to float (bite into one to determine whether its ready.)
7. Remove mushroom sauce from heat. Stir 2 TBS butter into sauce. Place ravioli on a plate and ladle sauce over ravioli. Garnish with additional cheese if desired.
Our Valentine’s Day dinner!