It’s ten thirty in the morning and I’m making pasta by hand with a baby strapped to my chest. I imagine this is how women have been cooking since The Agricultural Revolution. For a morning I feel connected to grandmothers I will never know, like being an individual is insignificant compared to being an infinitesimal piece of the whole of human history. An egg falls from the counter; it cracks open, slimy on the kitchen floor and I curse, snapped back to the present, into my own selfish reality. It seems like maybe I can do this, and like it might be fun. If I accomplish nothing else today – and I won’t – at least I will have done this one small, yet amazing task. I wonder if I can roll the dough thin enough. (I do.) I wonder if the baby will wake up. (She doesn’t.) I sincerely hope this works. (It does.)
Giant Ravioli with Spinach, Ricotta, and Egg Yolk
Adapted from a recipe in New Classic Family Dinners; Makes 12
For the dough:
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup semolina
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large egg
- 2 egg yolks
- up to 4 tablespoons ice water
For the ravioli:
- 12 ounces baby spinach
- 2 cups ricotta
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- up to 1/2 cup heavy cream
- salt and pepper
- 12 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup olive oil
For the dough:
Use fingers to combine flour, semolina, and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle. In a small bowl beat olive oil, egg and egg yolks. Slowly stream liquid into the dry ingredients; combine until mixture has the texture of coarse cornmeal. Add water a tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together in a ball. Remove from bowl and knead for five minutes – dough will be stiff. Wrap the ball of dough in plastic and let it rest for an hour. Roll out the dough into very thin sheets. I used nothing but a rolling pin and my wits. A pasta machine would also work well here.
For the ravioli:
Blanch spinach for ten seconds in a large pot of salted, boiling water. Drain and transfer to an ice water bath. When cool enough to handle squeeze by the handful until dry, then chop. Should be about one cup.
In a bowl combine ricotta, garlic, spinach, parsley, Parmesan, salt and pepper to taste. Fold in cream until the mixture is malleable.
Cut the pasta into twelve squares: 6 4 1/2-inch and 6 5-inch squares. Cover dough with a damp towel as you work.
Spoon two tablespoons of the ricotta mixture onto each of the 4 1/2 inch squares.
Using the back of a spoon, make a well in each scoop of ricotta.
Carefully place egg yolk in the depression.
Cover egg yolk with another tablespoon of ricotta.
Brush the perimeter of the pasta with water, and gently cover with the 5 inch square of pasta, pinching or pressing the layers together.
In a large pot of simmering (not boiling!), salted water, submerge the ravioli and cook for five minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drizzle with olive oil, cheese and parsley to serve.
Note: If you are preparing the ravioli much earlier than you care to cook them, do this: store them in the freezer on a baking sheet lined with parchment and sprinkled with semolina.
Huzzah! These giant ravioli are so impressive. A runny egg yolk comes busting forth from the pasta, melding with the warmed cheese and olive oil to create an unctuous sauce. Delicious. It takes some time and a deft hand, but I have no doubt that if I can do it, so can you.