They say life is all about facing new challenges.
They say you should shoot for the moon, and even if you miss you’ll land among the stars. Coming from a Russian household landing among the stars would be considered a failure, so I never understood that quote. But I digress.
About 6 months ago while Jason was away for work, I walked into Sur La Table all bright eyed and cheery and walked out with a pasta roller. I went home, put Theo to bed, and then poured myself a heavy glass of wine. I was going to make fresh pasta, and I was going to be super chic by filling it with an egg yolk—how on trend—and then I was going to Instagram the shit out of that dinner.
What followed was a comedy of errors where the pasta was way too thick, it tore in places, and it came out a sloppy mess. I put the pasta roller away for a couple of months blaming the summer heat for making the pasta too sticky. I’d wait for winter I told myself.
Then last week, I decided to try it again. This time with Jason’s help, we rolled out pasta and made the filling. We got the pasta nice and thin, but when I stuffed the ravioli, I could tell once again, this was not going to be pretty. And it was not. While there was a marked improvement from the original attempt, they were still un-Instagramable. I bought more eggs.
They say that third time is the charm, and it was. This time I did my research. Wine glass in hand, I spent an hour or so reading up on all the flaws I was having with my homemade pasta and finally settled upon this Serious Eats article, which laid everything on the table. It’s not that my dough was too wet or too dry, it’s that I wasn’t properly laminating the dough, and that was making it weak and unstable and resulting in some ugly ravioli.
Equipped with my new knowledge, I got back to work. I’m sure there is an inspirational quote to be had here.
The filling of this ravioli hasn’t changed since the start: it’s spinach cooked down with some garlic, mixed with a bunch of ricotta and Parmesan. And then of course, the star of the show, the full egg yolk in the middle.
The ravioli needs no sauce—just a quick toss in some brown butter with thyme and then, when you cut into the center of it, that delicious, yellow yolk pours out and becomes the sauce itself.
Honestly, it’s heavenly, and I don’t say that about my dinner frequently. Now that I’ve got the basics down, you can bet your pretty little face I’ll be making fresh pasta more often. I’m not scared.
*Side note: if you’re now staring at 10 egg whites and you don’t know what to do with them, may I suggest the following: Lemon Curd and Blackberry Pavlova, Chocolate Hazelnut Semifredo, Whiskey Sours, or if at this point you need something a bit healthier, make yourself and egg white omelette for breakfast tomorrow. With cheese though.
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 egg plus 2 egg yolks
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2½ - 3 ounces spinach, chopped
- 1 cup ricotta
- ¼ cup Parmesan, grated
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley leaves, chopped
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- 8 egg yolks
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- Parmesan, grated
- Pour flour out on a large, clean surface. Make a large well in the center. Crack egg and egg yolks into the center and sprinkle with salt. Use a fork to whisk eggs together, then use the fork to start incorporating the ﬂour until a wet, sticky dough forms.
- Use your hands or a bench knife to knead the dough, incorporating any ﬂour that fell to the side, until the dough feels firm and dry and can be formed into a ball, about 2-5 minutes.
- Knead dough for about 10 minutes to help gluten form, adding a tiny bit of flour if too wet and a drop or two of water if too dry. Form into ball and wrap tightly with plastic. Let rough rest on countertop for about 30 minutes, or else place in fridge for up to 1 day. Let come to room temperature before continuing.
- Heat oil in a large saucepan, add the garlic and spinach and cook until spinach wilts, about 3 minutes. Stir in thyme, parsley, and season with salt. Transfer spinach to a bowl with ricotta and Parmesan and mix well.
- Transfer ﬁlling to a pastry bag or a plastic bag with corner snipped off.
- Roll out dough into a thin sheet using a pasta roller (see Serious Eats article linked above for step-by-step instructions if you've never done this before). Using a cookie cutter, cut out 16 circles that are about 3½ inch in diameter.
- Using your pastry bag, make a circle of the ricotta mixture about ½ an inch away from the edge of the dough, leaving the center space for the yolk. Carefully place egg yolk in center.
- With your ﬁnger, wet the edges of the dough, then cover with another disc of dough and seal, pinching the edges.
- Bring a large, heavily salted pot of water to boil.
- In a large pan, heat butter over medium low heat until it starts to brown. Add in thyme. Reduce heat slightly to not burn butter.
- Add ravioli, two to three at a time, to water and cook for about 1 minute, until ravioli floats. Using a slotted spoon, drain ravioli and transfer to butter pan immediately and brown slightly on both sides.
- Sprinkle a bit of Parmesan cheese on top, if desired, and serve immediately.