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Ravioli 101

Ravioli take many forms, from half-moons (mezzelune) to rectangles to the more familiar round and square versions outlined here. For an introduction to making pasta dough, check out my post Pasta Dough 101; for pasta tool recommendations, check out the Tools & Resources page.


What You'll Need

  • Your egg-based pasta dough (you can make ravioli with flour & water dough, but they're much less common) and filling of choice , chilled and ready to go in a bowl or piping bag

  • Pasta machine (manual or electric attachment)

  • Cookie cutters, a fluted pasta cutter, or a sharp knife (ravioli stamps and molds work, too, of course, but they’re by no means necessary)

  • Spray bottle or small bowl of water

  • Clean dish cloth

Method


Roll the pasta sheets

  1. Cut off a portion (about a quarter) of your pasta dough and re-wrap the remainder immediately. Flatten the dough with the heel of your hand until it’s about ¼-inch thick.

  2. Set your pasta machine to its widest setting and roll the dough through once—it will be tapered at the ends. If the dough feels sticky at all, sprinkle it with a little '00' pasta flour or all-purpose flour before sending it through the machine.

  3. Rotate the dough 90 degrees, then fold the ends into the center like an envelope so the width of the pasta sheet matches the width of the pasta roller (about 6 inches). Roll the dough through the widest setting once more so the result is an even(ish) rectangle.

  4. Continue rolling the pasta sheet through the machine once on each progressive setting until you can begin to see your hand through it, about setting 7 on a Marcato Atlas 150 manual roller or setting 6 twice through on the KitchenAid attachment.

  5. Once you have a long, thin sheet of pasta, lay it on a work surface (ideally wood, which helps prevent the dough from sticking) and trim the ends of any uneven areas. If you don’t have a wooden surface, dust some flour on the bottom of the pasta sheet and your countertop.

  6. Ball up any scraps and re-wrap them in plastic to rehydrate. You can roll them through the machine a second time after using up all the fresh dough.

Assemble the ravioli

  1. Dust a baking sheet in semolina flour or line it with a dry dish cloth or parchment paper. Set aside.

  2. Fold the pasta sheet in half crosswise and make a crease to mark the midpoint, then unfold it again. Cut down the line of the crease so you have two even pieces. Cover one piece with a damp dish cloth to prevent it from drying out.

  3. For round ravioli: Use a 2- or 2½-inch cookie cutter to lightly mark the outlines of the ravioli across the other half of the pasta sheet. Make sure not to cut , and leave about ½ inch of space between each circle and the edges of the sheet. This will be your guide for where to place the filling.

  4. Spoon or pipe a generous dollop of filling in the center of each circle, leaving about ½ inch of space between the dollop and the outline of the cookie cutter. It'll take a little trial and error to figure out how much filling you can comfortably fit, but it's better to be conservative at the beginning and build as you go.

  5. If the dough is dry, spritz it lightly with the spray bottle or add a small amount of water with your finger around the filling pockets.

  6. Carefully lay the other pasta sheet on top, making sure everything is completely covered (you can stretch the dough a bit if needed).

  7. Before cutting, gently trace your fingers around the dough overlaying each dollop of filling to remove any air, pressing it out toward the nearest exit to prevent the ravioli from bursting when cooked. To make the ravioli look more uniform, you can rotate the blunt side of the cookie cutter around the filling to concentrate it in the center.

  8. Finally, cut out the ravioli by twisting the cookie cutter around the filling pockets. Pinch firmly around edges to seal well (thinning out the edges also helps the ravioli cook more evenly).

  9. For square ravioli: If you don’t have cookie cutters, or if you prefer square ravioli, arrange generous dollops of filling about 1-inch apart across the pasta sheet (in 2 parallel rows, if you have the space). Then overlay the other half of the pasta sheet, remove the air pockets, and use a fluted pasta cutter or sharp knife to cut between the filling mounds. Trim the edges and press firmly to seal (and, if you want, press the tines of a fork along the edges for a decorative effect).

  10. Arrange the ravioli in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough.


Storage

There are a few methods you can use to store ravioli. When freezing, the blanching method prevents larger filled pastas like ravioli from cracking on the surface, but if you're short on time, you can skip it. Just make sure not to leave the pasta uncovered in the freezer for too long (I always set a timer so I don't forget about them!).

  1. For short-term storage, refrigerate the ravioli uncovered on the sheet pan for up to 4 hours. Check every so often to make sure the bottoms aren't getting soggy.

  2. For long-term storage, blanch the ravioli in a pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds. Transfer them to a clean dish cloth and allow to air dry for about 15 minutes. Then arrange them on a parchment-lined sheet pan in a single layer and freeze until solid, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a freezer bag and return to the freezer. They'll taste best the sooner you cook them (straight from frozen) but they'll last up to a couple of months.

  3. Skip the blanching step and freeze the ravioli on the baking sheet for 20 minutes, until the pasta is mostly solid. Dust any excess semolina from the bottom of each piece, then transfer them to a freezer bag.


Cooking Ravioli

There are infinite combinations of ravioli fillings and sauces that you can try . A few of my favorites: Crispy Lemon Poppy Seed Ravioli, Ravioli alla Sorrentina, and Garlicky Mushroom Corzetti Ravioli. Here's how to cook them, whatever sauce you choose:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then salt it generously. Wait for a few seconds so the salt can dissolve.

  2. Shake off any excess flour from the ravioli and carefully drop them into water. Stir gently for a few seconds and cook until tender, about 2½ minutes, depending on their size, thickness, and freshness (always taste to be sure; add an extra minute for frozen ravioli).

  3. Transfer the cooked ravioli with a spider sieve or slotted spoon directly to your sauce, along with a splash of cooking water. Cook for a few moments longer until the pasta is well-coated in the sauce. Serve immediately.

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