A friend and I are making homemade ravioli tonight. I've been bugging Jeff about it for months since I had such fun when we made noodles in his KitchenAid mixer last year. I went out and bought semolina right after, to be stored in my freezer in Kerr jars, along with all my other flours and nuts. The thing about cooking for me, though, which is probably true for most people, is that it's so much more enjoyable when I'm either cooking for or with others. I just haven't gotten up the oomph to make pasta by myself yet, even though I sought and bought a secondhand, Italian-made, hand-cranked pasta machine on Craigslist right after making noodles for the first time (more on that purchase another day). There are intentions, and then there's reality.
For reasons of economy and poverty (truly in the spirit of old Italy), for tonight's pasta we're using what's on hand. Towards the end of last summer, I'd picked from the garden beds what I thought was yet another big zucchini, but when cut turned out to be some harder, more wintery squash, so I diced it skin-on, drizzled it with olive oil, tossed it with chopped garlic, salt, pepper, and thyme leaves plucked from my plants on the balcony, roasted it up, pureed it, and stashed it in the freezer. Six or so months later, it's now defrosting on my counter. I've also got some Parmesan on hand, half a bunch of parsley, the semolina, a vintage ravioli press (more on that purchase another time, as well), and a half-bag of carrots (to be roasted or steamed as a side dish, I think). Jeff has some ricotta and far more kitchen space. So that's the plan, a joint venture, meal preparation and skill building as evening entertainment.
|Prepara "herb-savor," deconstructed|
Jeff gave me this Prepara "herb-savor" for Christmas, having teased me with the hint that though the gift was made of, gasp, plastic, he was sure I'd like it anyway, and he was right. He'd found it at Goodwill in like-new condition, and though he hasn't told me what he paid, a couple weeks ago he found one for himself at Goodwill for $2. They retail right now between $20-30. In college, a half-Bolivian boyfriend offered up the herb-saving tip of sticking cilantro in a glass of water and covering it with a plastic bag, which works—but the Prepara works and looks better. One simply lays a bunch of herbs in the stainless-steel strainer, rinses any grit and bugs off under cool running water, clasps the plastic cover together, fills the reservoir, fits the container in the base, and stores the herbs fresh in the fridge for, ahem, weeks and weeks. (Yes, I should shop for fresh produce every day, but honestly I don't.)
|Prepara "herb-savor" in situ|
Fresh-ish herbs make everything taste better. Buon appetito!
Edited 3.12.12 to add:
- We made the ravioli the following night instead because someone filled up Saturday afternoon on children's party food.
- Ravioli-press instructions should be consulted thoroughly prior to dough-making, especially the parts about what goes where in what order and that everything needs to be well floured.
- I'm not convinced a ravioli maker is even needed because the hand-cut, straight-lined, less-filled pockets we made just looked better than the ones done correctly in the press—more chic somehow.
- I should have skinned the squash prior to roasting because it made the ravioli extra al dente, and not in a good way.
- The pasta itself, which Jeff saved from my inexpert hands, tasted wonderful, made from semolina, eggs, a little water, and a little olive oil.
- Ricotta, Parmesan, butter, extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, chopped garlic, and freeze-dried basil (it is March, after all), heated in a big bowl over the pasta water, with fresh lemon and a little pasta water stirred in, all topped with chopped parsley, makes a simple, tasty sauce.