A crash course in making ravioli

Last week I was telling a good friend how much I was enjoying my new Kitchenaid pasta roller and cutter attachments. I went on and on about the fun I had had, and how much we loved the delicate, eggy noodles. I mentioned that I had ordered a ravioli maker and was looking forward to using it. I could see a light bulb go off in her head. She asked me excitedly if I would help her make enough homemade, fresh ravioli for twenty people. Gulp. I agreed hesitantly, even though I had used my new pasta machine exactly once, and had never tried out the ravioli maker that was still on its way.

It wasn’t until I got home and did some reading that I knew how big of a job this might be. According to some, a good rule of thumb is to count on ten ravioli per person. Whoa – I realized I needed to get good at this task quickly, because we were looking at making two hundred of these little cheese-stuffed packages.

On Saturday, I had turned our little kitchen into a test kitchen. I had four willing helpers standing by, ready to figure out how to make ravioli. Three batches of pasta dough were resting on the countertop. Sheet pans, a rotary pasta cutter, spoons, scoops, a double-batch of cheese filling, a cutting board, the never-before-used ravioli maker, a flour shaker, and a rolling pin were in line, ready for action.

I had to keep in mind that learning the craft (how thin to roll the pasta, how to maintain a uniform width, and how to use the ravioli form so that the pasta doesn’t stick to it) was only half of the task. I also had to take careful notes regarding:

  • How many ravioli could we get out of one batch of dough?
  • One batch of filling (two pounds whole milk ricotta cheese, 2 eggs, a handful of grated Parmesan cheese, a handful of grated Parmesan, and a half bunch of chopped parsley) fills how many ravioli?

There were other questions, too, such as, how long should the finished ravioli air-dry before they go in the freezer? How many of these ravioli, once frozen, actually fit in our freezer?

After a couple of hours, we got very good at this, and most of our questions were answered. I finally felt I could face the real task ahead, which is to create two hundred, perfect, tasty ravioli for my friend. An added bonus to the day was that one friend who got involved, loved the task. He’s a tool guy and a perfectionist, and in the end, he taught me more than I taught him.

I thought I was ready until I got a call this morning – the number of guests has gone up. Stay tuned.