When I first started learning my way around the kitchen I thought the best way to see if spaghetti was cooked was to give it a good sling across the room. If it stuck to the wall then you knew it was ready to eat! Mind you I was 10 and I thought using Bertolli's Garlic Alfredo Sauce out of a jar and Olive Garden was fancy. No matter what, when making pasta it was obligatory to stand at least 15 feet from the wall and hurl a noodle as hard as you could. To this day every time I cook boxed spaghetti I do the "wall test" out of tradition. Plus, sometimes it just feels good to throw something at the wall after a long week.
There are those busy days when you need a quick box of pasta and a jar of marinara to get you through dinnertime- I get it. No judgement here. But if you have the time and you want your soul to sing, then homemade pasta is the way to go. I've been hooked ever since I first tried fresh pasta in Italy. It's silky, slightly chewy texture combined with slow-braised meats, or just simple lemon juice, olive oil, parmesan and pepper will haunt your dreams. As much as I love it, I had never given much thought to making pasta myself until Thomas had the glorious idea last weekend. I thought it would be a lot more difficult than it was! My favorite part was making a little flour mountain/egg volcano on our countertop and diving in hands first! If you were to make pasta several times a week I can promise you'd be on your way to having arms like Arnold. Kneading the dough for 10-12 minutes may be a workout but it's well worth it. We made a creamy ricotta, spinach and mushroom filling for the ravioli and made it extra fun turning it into a carbonara dish with lots of grilled chicken, peas and crispy bacon. Does it make it spring yet because I used peas?
Who am I kidding?!
This is as cozy, wintery, and comfort-food-y as you get and I will happily push back spring a few more weeks to have a couple more belly-warming dishes like this guy.
Homemade Ravioli Carbonara
Pasta Dough (cut this recipe in half from All Recipes)
-1 cup (128 g) all purpose flour
-1 cup (128 g) semolina flour
-3 large eggs
-1 tablespoon of olive oil
-8 oz of mushrooms (230g) white or crimini mushrooms work fine
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
-2 big handfuls of spinach leaves
-1/2 cup (250 ml) of heavy cream
-salt & pepper to taste
- 1 cup (128g) of ricotta
- 2 chicken breasts
-1 cup of blanched peas
-4-6 slices of crispy bacon
-2 egg yolks (at room temperature)
-1 egg (at room temperature)
-1/2 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup (75g) parmesan cheese, finely grated
what to do
1) First make the pasta dough: Thoroughly sift together all-purpose flour, semolina flour, and pinch of salt. On a clean surface, make a mountain out of flour mixture then make a deep well in center. Break the eggs into the well and add olive oil. Whisk eggs very gently with a fork, gradually incorporating flour from the sides of the well. When mixture becomes too thick to mix with a fork, begin kneading with your hands.
2) Knead dough for 8 to 12 minutes, until it is smooth and supple. Dust dough and work surface with semolina as needed to keep dough from becoming sticky. Wrap dough tightly in plastic and allow it to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
3) While the dough is resting, make the spinach mushroom filling. Place mushrooms in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. In a pan over medium-high heat, sauté mushrooms in a tablespoon of olive oil. Let the mushrooms bits brown and release as much water as possible, about 5 minutes. Then, add 4 minced cloves of garlic to the mushrooms and stir until fragrant. Then add in 2 big handfuls of spinach and another drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and give a couple of stirs before pouring in heavy cream. Simmer down on medium-low until cream is reduced and the mixture becomes thick. Give a quick taste test to make sure it's seasoned to your liking before transferring to a bowl. Add in as much ricotta cheese as you would like. Just make sure the mixture is thick enough to fill ravioli.
4) Roll out dough with a pasta machine or a rolling pin. For ravioli, you want the pasta sheet to be thin enough to see the shadow of your hand when you place it behind. For this dish, make sure you roll the dough out thin enough to cut the piece in half. (There's a picture above for a reference). On the bottom half, evenly space one spoonful of filling for each individual ravioli. We used a small metal ramekin to cut each individual ravioli, but if you have a special ravioli cutter even better!
5) Cook bacon crisp in a pan and let cool on a paper towel lined plate. With a little of the bacon drippings reserved, brown chicken. Once browned and fully cooked, remove chicken to cutting board to cool before slicing in strips.
6) Bring water to a boil in a large pot, then add 4 teaspoons salt. Cook pasta until tender but not mushy, 3-6 minutes depending on thickness.
7) While the pasta cooks, whisk egg yolks, egg, cream and three-quarters of the parmesan together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add mixture to the pan on low and heat up before adding the cooked ravioli, peas, and chicken. Toss to coat a few times and simmer on low until the mixture thickens a little.
8) To serve, top with chopped bacon bits and the rest of the parmesan cheese.