Labor of Love: Open Tomato and Herbed Ricotta Ravioli

I want to go to the new Andrew Carmellini restaurant, The Dutch, more than anything. Reading the buzz over it online is not making it any easier. The concept of a restaurant that is part all-American joint, part country inn all with an oyster room is too much to resist. The menu expresses those admired feelings of comfort food but elevated. You can dine on seafood ceviche and caviar all while digging into ribs and homemade pies. A dish people seem to be pleased with so far is the Smoked Ricotta Ravioli with Tomato and Soft Herbs, so I decided it was time to make my own Recreation Nation version.

My version is Open Ricotta Tomato and Herbed Ravioli. I made two simple pasta doughs, one tomato with tomato paste and one herbed with chopped fresh basil. I ran the pasta dough through a pasta maker to make the sheets very thin. Using a circle shaped cookie cutter I cut the dough into perfect circular shapes. This is not a sealed ravioli recipe in fact it is easier. All you need to do is nestle scoops of the ricotta mixture in between two of the circles and dig in. The flavors of the herb and tomato are subtle, but they add great color contrast. This is definitely a special recipe if you want a change of pace from typical frozen ravioli.

Open Tomato and Herbed Ricotta Ravioli

[It is not often that I make pasta from scratch. It is not like it is hard to make. It just takes a little bit of time. Leave more than an hour free and you will have some colorful and fresh homemade pasta. If you just want to make one of the doughs skip the steps for the other, simple as that]

  •     3 cups flour
  •     2 tablespoons olive oil
  •     3 eggs
  •     3 tablespoons chopped basil
  •     2 tablespoons tomato paste
  •     Pinches of salt and pepper
  •     1 cup ricotta cheese
  •     2 tablespoons basil
  •     ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  •     2 cups of tomato sauce, your favorite brand

1.  To make the Tomato version start by making a mound of 1½ cups of flour on a clean surface. Create a well in the center for the other ingredients deep enough so they will not spill out.

2.  Combine one egg, one tablespoon of olive oil and two tablespoons of tomato paste in a bowl and then pour into the well. Add some salt and pepper to taste.

3.  Slowly combine egg and tomato mixture with the flour by adding flour bit by bit until all of the ingredients are combined. If you think the dough is too dry, add some more olive oil and if it is too wet add some more flour.

4.  To make the Herbed version start in a similar fashion by making a mound of 1½ cups of flour on a clean surface. Create a well in the center for the other ingredients deep enough so they will not spill out.

5.  Combine two eggs, one tablespoon of olive oil and three tablespoons of fresh chopped basil leaves in a bowl and then pour into the well. Add some salt and pepper to taste.

6.  Slowly combine the egg and herb mixture with the flour by adding flour bit by bit until all of the ingredients are combined. If you think the dough is too dry, add some more olive oil and if it is too wet add some more flour.

7.  Run your prepared dough through a pasta machine according to the machine’s instruction to create thin sheets of pasta dough. You may need to split the dough in half and work bit by bit according to how much pasta your pasta machine accommodates at one time. You may need to oil the machine with some olive oil to help move the dough through the machine.

8.  Put a large pot of water on high heat to boil.

9.  Once you have sheets of the dough use a circular cookie cutter to cut circled shapes from the vibrant doughs.

10.  Once the water boils cook the pasta circles in shifts making sure not to overcrowd the pasta in the pot. The pasta will cook in less than ten minutes so watch for the pasta to rise slightly in the pot. Try one of the circles when you think it is cooked to your liking to gage how long your pasta will cook on your stovetop. Finish cooking all of the pasta, using a slotted ladle to remove circles that are cooked.

11.  While the last of the circles are cooking make the ricotta mixture and heat the sauce in another pan. Use any tomato sauce of your liking, and heat it up to wake up some of the tomato flavor. To make the ricotta mixture combine one cup of ricotta cheese with two tablespoons of sliced basil and ¼ cup Parmesan cheese.

12.  To assemble pour some sauce onto a plate. Place a layer of the pasta circles. Top the pasta circles with a scoop of the ricotta mixture. Top that off with another pasta circle, plenty of sauce and a generous sprinkle of more Parmesan cheese if desired.

13.   Eat, eat and eat. It is worth your work.

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