What a crazy few weeks it has been! Last week I graduated with my Bachelor's degree in Culinary Arts Management at the Culinary Institute of America and it was so bittersweet! The ceremony was great and it was wonderful to share such an accomplishment surrounded by our friends and family. As with any graduation, it was so hard to say goodbye to not only the school but the lifelong friends I have developed a strong kinship with over the last three and a half years. My friends and I came to the conclusion that we were not saying "goodbye" but we were saying "see you later"! It is going to be so strange not seeing the same faces everyday but the real world calls!
Fresh pasta is super simple to make and you can do so much with it such as; cut it into linguine or prepare a filling and make ravioli. Last night I decided to make tortellini filled with ricotta and spinach. My go-to meal! Making fresh pasta is really simple when you have a pasta machine. These machines are made to roll out the pasta dough evenly and they come with attachments so you can cut them into different sizes. Pasta machines are not too expensive: I have seen some priced from about $30-$80. There are some high end ones that will mix and cut dough for you and those cost around $350.
If you don't have a pasta machine a rolling pin will work just fine but it will take awhile to get it to the desired thickness. Get your arm workout in for the day! You can make the pasta dough ahead of time and leave it in the refrigerator for 24 hours or you can prepare it to the desired shapes and freeze it for those quick last minute meals! Check out the recipe below and see for yourself how simple pasta is and I guarantee that you won't want to buy boxed pasta again.
Fresh Pasta Recipe
Ricotta and Spinach Filling
"00" or Semolina Flour, 2 cups
Eggs, 3 ea.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1 tbsp.
Salt, 2 tsp.
Water, As Needed
1) In a medium bowl add flour and make a well in the center of flour mound. Add the eggs, olive oil, and salt into the well. With a fork, mix eggs gently. While mixing eggs slowly scrape flour from edges of well into the wet mixture, making sure to incorporate a little flour at a time. When mixture starts to come together, mix vigorously making sure all ingredients are incorporated. Add water as needed.
*You may also do this step in a stand mixer: In mixing bowl with paddle attachment, add flour, eggs, olive oil, and salt. Mix on low speed until dough no longer sticks to sides and has created a ball, adding water as needed.*
3) After dough has rested, on a flour surface cut dough into quarters. Working with one quarter at a time, keeping the remaining covered with plastic, press the section flat. On the thickest setting (mine is number 0 but some machines may be different) run the pasta through. Fold the rolled dough into thirds and run through the thickest setting again. Keeping a floured surface at all times, run the pasta through each setting progressively one number at a time until you achieved the desired thickness. The thickness for tortellini is number 7 or a 1/4" thick.
4) After pasta is rolled to proper thickness, cut into squares that are 3 inches by 3 inches. In the center of square, place 1 teaspoon of filling. Dipping your fingers in water, brush two edges of the square. Draw one corner of the square to the other while pressing the edges together to secure.
7) To cook pasta, bring a large pot of water to a boil with 3 tbsp. salt. Place the tortellini into water a few pieces at a time and stir to prevent sticking. Cook until all of the tortellini have floated to the top of the pot, about 5 minutes. Test one for doneness. Remove with a slotted spoon and serve.
Ricotta Cheese, 2 cups
Fresh Spinach, 3 cups
Garlic, minced, 1 clove
Mozzarella Cheese, shredded, 1/4 cup
Dried Oregano, 1 tsp.
Dried Thyme, 1 tsp.
Milk, 1 tsp.
Salt and Pepper
1) In a large saute pan, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium high heat. Add garlic and cook until aromatic, about 1-3 minutes. Add in spinach and season with salt and pepper. Saute spinach until it has wilted completely. Remove from heat and place spinach in a fine mesh strainer. With the back of wooden spoon, press firmly into spinach to remove excess water and oil. Once most of the water has been pressed out, place cooked spinach onto cutting board and chop finely.
2) In a medium bowl add ricotta, chopped spinach and remaining ingredients. Mix until all fully incorporated. Taste and adjust for seasoning. This filling can be used immediately or stored in a steal tight container and be placed in refrigerator for later use.