Ciao Italia: My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy
MAKES 150 TO 200
It is interesting to conjecture as to how ravioli came to be. These plump little pillows of pasta hold a variety of traditional savory fillings, depending on where in Italy you are. My Grandmother Galasso used to make ravioli out of leftover pasta dough that was too small to do anything else with. She filled them with a mixture of bits and pieces of meats, cheeses, and herbs. Then they were gently placed on a clean blanket until the cooking water was boiling.
When I make ravioli and I really want to splurge, I fill them with lobster. I like to serve them with Salsa di Peperoni Rossi. This recipe makes a lot: Cook what you need and freeze the rest.
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh parsley
1 recipe Basic Egg Pasta
To make the filling, with a knife, mince the lobster meat fine. Put it in a bowl, add all the remaining filling ingredients, and mix well. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.
To make the ravioli using a form, first roll the dough through a pasta machine to the finest setting and cut into 13-inch lengths, or roll it out with a rolling pin on a floured surface as thin as possible and cut into strips approximately 5 inches by 13 inches. Place one strip of dough over the bottom section of the ravioli form, making sure that the dough overlaps all the edges of the form by about 1/2 inch. Use the top part of the form to make slight impressions in the dough. Put 1 teaspoon of filling in each impression and cover with another sheet of dough. Roll over the form with a rolling pin several times to seal the edges. Trim the excess dough from around the form and save to reroll. Shake the ravioli out through the holes in the form and place them in a single layer on a floured baking sheet or a clean towel.
If you prefer to make the ravioli without a form, roll each piece of dough through a pasta machine to the finest setting and cut each strip of dough in half; or roll the dough out on a floured surface as thin as possible and cut in 5-inch-wide strips. Place teaspoons of the filling about 2 inches apart on one strip of dough, and cover with another strip of dough. Press down around the mounds of filling to seal the dough, and cut in ravioli squares with a pasta wheel or sharp knife. Place the ravioli in a single layer on a floured baking sheet or clean towels as you make them.
To cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the ravioli, about 2 dozen at a time, just until they bob to the top, about 3 minutes. Drain and serve with a sauce of your choice.
To freeze, arrange the ravioli on baking sheets in a single layer, cover with foil, and freeze until solid. Place them in plastic bags and freeze for up to 3 months. Do not defrost before boiling.
Note: Ravioli forms can be purchased in cookware shops or through catalogs.