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Although our schedules are full, this mental health day is an excellent time to check in with yourself and find ways to clear your headspace. Putting a “Wellness Day” Band-Aid over things only goes so far, but you may as well try out new hobbies that may help you take out your frustration while bringing you a sense of peace. For some, that may be yoga. For others, it could be putting all your anxiety and stress into a poor ball of dough by way of ravioli.
Picturing myself putting all my anger into rolling out pasta dough while standing on my tippy-toes on a makeshift stool is both as horrible of an idea as it seems on paper as it was in reality. But homemade ravioli is well worth the extensive effort and a dish that will impress you and your friends.
With some desperation for a refresh in my life, lemon felt like the citrus for the job — it has a brightness to it visually and in terms of taste. The citrus’ taste and color are fitting for springtime and bring pasta dishes to life through its acidic punch.
Ricotta’s versatility allows you to use it in savory or sweet meals, which is why you see ricotta in a hearty lasagna as well as a jam-topped cheesecake. And, to give the filling some integrity, shredded Parmesan makes a guest appearance in this ravioli. By itself, ricotta is too wet and retains more moisture than you will want in the ravioli. Parmesan acts like a binder in this dish and adds a nutty flavor which compliments the sprinkle of nutmeg I recommend you put in.
Now, it’s time to go crazy and put all your pent-up anger into kneading the ravioli dough. The dough is straight-forward but does involve some elbow grease. And, perhaps a questionable DIY stool made of books and a metal chair.
At first, I started rolling my dough without a stool but quickly realized that I would need more downward pressure as I rolled the dough to the desired thinness. Essentially, you want to make sure that your work surface is hip level or lower so that you have higher ground and can stretch all of the dough out.
The simplicity of placing the filling in uniform lines is satisfying and relaxing. And probably the easiest part of making homemade ravioli. During this step, you start to see your ravioli take shape, and it will be hard to not want to eat it right away. But practice restraint because the sauce is worth it.
After they are cooked, top them with the herb sauce to finish off the ravioli. The herb sauce’s base is melted butter, to which you’ll throw in thyme, chopped rosemary and oregano once the butter is fully melted to release some of their aromatics. Finish the ravioli off with a squeeze of lemon juice, zest and a couple of oregano leaves and you are golden.
While this restoring ravioli may only be a quick fix to the stressors in your life, cooking can be a way to blow off some steam any day of the week. Turning chaos into a delicious dish and something you can be proud of is a beautiful thing and one that is underrated.
Lemon Ricotta Ravioli with a Bright Herb Sauce
For the Pasta Dough:
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
For the Filling:
1 cup of whole milk ricotta
½ cup of shredded Parmesan
Sprinkle of nutmeg (optional, but recommended)
Salt and pepper to taste
For the Sauce:
4 tablespoons of salted butter
2 teaspoons of thyme
1 teaspoon of chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped oregano
For the Toppings:
½ teaspoon thyme
¼ teaspoon chopped rosemary
10-12 oregano leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
On a flat surface, place the flour in a mound shape and sprinkle the salt over it. Make a well in the middle and add the eggs, egg yolks and olive oil. Use a fork to whisk together the ingredients in the well. Once the eggs have been whisked, slowly incorporate the surrounding flour while maintaining the integrity of the mound so as not to have the egg mixture spillover. A shaggy dough will eventually form. Once this happens, you are ready to knead.
Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until the dough has formed into a smooth, elastic ball that is reasonably firm. Wrap the ball in plastic wrap or cover with a cloth for 30 minutes.
While the dough is resting on the counter, zest the lemon and add most of the zest with the filling ingredients in a bowl. To the bowl, add the juice from half of the lemon. Mix and set aside the bowl in the fridge.
Unwrap your dough and sprinkle your work surface with a little bit of flour. Start rolling the dough into a rectangle shape. You want it to be thin enough that you can see your hand through the dough. This will take time, but stick with it!
Take out the filling from the fridge. Cut the rolled dough in half with a knife. On one-half of the dough, place teaspoon-sized drops of the filling an inch apart from one another. Carefully drape the other half of the dough over the half with the filling on it. Seal the halves by pressing the dough together around each mound of filling. Using a knife, or a small, 2-inch circular container top, cut out each ravioli. Inspect each ravioli to make sure the edges are completely sealed.
Form the pasta dough scraps into a ball and reroll the dough into a rectangle. Add a tiny bit of water to rehydrate the dough that has most likely dried out a bit. Be careful not to add too much. Otherwise, the dough will become too sticky. Repeat step 5.
*If you still end up with leftover ravioli filling, save it! You can reuse it for another pasta dish later or for a tart later in the week.
Boil a large pot of salted water. Carefully add in the ravioli and bring the heat down a little to a gentle boil. The cook time will vary depending on how thin you were able to get the dough. If your dough is genuinely paper-thin, the ravioli will only take 3 minutes. If your ravioli is a bit thicker, they may take up to 12 minutes to cook. The ravioli is done when it is tender, soft and not chewy. Carefully drain them once they are cooked through.
Melt 4 tablespoons of salted butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, put the heat on low and add the thyme, chopped rosemary and oregano.
Place the cooked ravioli in the saucepan and gently stir the ravioli so they are coated in the herb sauce. Transfer the ravioli to the plates they are being served on.
Sprinkle some of the extra zest over each plate. Squeeze some juice from the lemon over each dish as well. Finish by placing 2-3 oregano leaves on top.
Enjoy your well-deserved ravioli!
Published on March 22, 2021 at 8:51 pm
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