The first time I tried to make my own pasta, it was a miserable fail. The problem, I thought, was the pasta machine. I just couldn’t figure it out. So I spent a lot of time researching ways to make pasta without having to use a pasta rolling machine. And while I could find some videos on rolling out pasta with nothing more than a rolling pin, the pasta rolling videos were in Italian. And they would use a super huge rolling pin. And they would have a super large work surface. But I don’t speak Italian. And I have only a tiny bit of space in my kitchen. And I have only a normal sized rolling pin. So I never bothered to try adapting the technique to a Chicago city kitchen. But after I received a gift of butternut squash from a relative’s home garden, I decided I would give it a try.
Rolling Pin Ravioli Recipe:
1. beat it: put 1C flour in a bowl and make a well inside. Drop 2 eggs, a couple of dribbles of olive oil, and a pinch of salt in the well. Use a fork and beat the eggs, gradually incorporating flour from the well. After very short while, it will get all gummy, and you won’t be able to beat the mixture with a fork anymore.
2. knead it: dump out the egg mixture and the remaining flour that hasn’t been incorporated yet. Start clumping everything together into a big mass. It will be really sticky at this point, and it will feel very different than a bread dough. Once it comes together, knead it for a couple minutes. It won’t be that big. That’s ok.
3. rest it: flip a bowl over the pasta dough and let it rest for twenty minutes. The dough won’t rise, but it will become easier to work with.
4. roll it: split the dough in half and generously flour the board and the dough (keep the other part of the dough covered while you work with the first half). Start rolling out the dough with your rolling pin. Keep everything well floured, as you don’t want the dough to stick to the board. I would roll the dough for a while and then flip and rotate it over and repeat until I got it to be about as close to the size of the cutting board as I could get it. I knew I was close when I could see the wood grain of my bamboo cutting board through the dough.
Although I was concerned about the dough sticking to the cutting board, I was surprised at how not-sticky it was. In terms of stickiness, this dough was much more forgiving than pizza dough or pie dough.
Once the dough was thin enough, I set it aside and covered it with a dish towel so it wouldn’t dry out while I was rolling out the second half.
7. dish it: I evenly spaced out the filling, recipe below, out across the dough in ~1T dollops.
8. cover it: once I had the filling dished out, I carefully placed the other half sheet of pasta on top. Once the dough was on top, I gently pressed it down in an attempt to get any excess air out.
9. cut it: I then used a knife to cut around the mounds of pasta and filling. At this point, I had eleven ravioli and a lot of extra dough. I clumped all the extra dough back into a ball and then re-rolled that dough too. That gave me another half dozen raviolis, which made for a nice sized dinner for two.
10. boil it: the filling was already cooked and the dough was fresh, so it only took about a minute to cook. But I was worried about dumping a whole bunch of these in a pot, as they did seem rather fragile. So I had to cook the raviolis in batches.
11. eat it: I melted some butter and mixed it with some olive oil to make a quick sauce and garnished with parmesan cheese.
The pasta was pretty good; much better than the last attempt. The dough had a nice chew to it, but it wasn’t dumpling-y. It actually reminded me a lot of boiled Korean dumplings.
I think that with more work, the technique will improve, and as the technique improves, the taste will improve. My hope is to get this nailed down so I can make and freeze a ton of it before the baby comes. I have exactly four months.
Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese filling recipe:
1. prep it: I am not sure the proper way to prep a butternut squash. But the way I always do it is to cut the shaft from the bulb. And then I use a vegetable peeler to get the rind off. If you cut the bulb part in half, that’s where you’ll find the seeds. Remove those. Cut up the peeled squash into chunks.
2. bake it: drizzle some olive oil over the squash pieces and roast in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. While it’s baking, work on the onions.
3. caramelize it: slice up half an onion and caramelize it. Keep the heat low, add a little liquid like water, and cover.
3. mash it: pull the squash in a bowl and mash. Add the onions. At this point, it tasted really sweet, like baby food. In retrospect, I think my wife would have preferred that I just stop here. But I added a whole bunch of other things to tone down the sweet and increase the savory.
4. mix it: I added about a third of a container of goat cheese crumbles and about a quarter cup of sour cream. I also added a ton of cracked pepper, which I think is always delicious with squash, and I finished it off with about a 1/4 cup of grated parmesan.
5. cool it: let the mixture cool before you try and put it on the pasta. It’ll be easier to work with, and if it’s hot, it will start cooking the pasta before you’re ready.