By Leah Eskin Chicago Tribune
Everyone’s busy working and studying and practicing and participating. What ever happened to wasting time? What happened to the dish designed to soak up hours?
Gone, along with the lemonade stand and play dough. But not forgotten. Wasn’t there pleasure in many hands and much fuss?
Without warning, I consecrated a Monday evening to long-form ravioli.
“Why?” my first conscript demanded. Soon he’d flicked off his screen. He rolled the dough long and longer, draped the fine yellow sheets across the table.
“You’re kidding,” sighed the girl balancing backpack and ballet bag. Soon she’d dropped her luggage. She spooned up cheese, she sliced and crimped.
By the time my co-captain reported, tired and taciturn, dinner was nowhere. We put on music. We simmered and sauced and served. It was late. There was homework and work work unfinished. But we’d accomplished so much.
2 cups flour
1 pinch salt
Filling (instructions follow)
Heap flour in a bowl. Scoop out a well in the center. Whisk together eggs and salt; pour in. With nimble fingers, pull flour into egg, achieving a ragged dough.
Dump onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead until elastic, about 10 minutes. Dust with flour, wrap in plastic and let rest, 45 minutes.
Find the pasta machine. Cut the dough into 4 slabs and rewrap. Pass one through the widest roller setting. Fold in thirds, like a letter. Pass an open end through the widest setting again. (Dust with a little flour if need be.) Repeat 3 or 4 times. Now stop down the settings, passing the dough once through each, without folding. Dough will stretch long and lovely. Work all the way to the second-to-last setting.
Stretch out dough on a countertop. Dot with teaspoonfuls of filling, each 2 inches apart and 1 inch from the border. Roll a second strip of dough and press over the first, enclosing the filling lumps. Use a pizza wheel to slice into filled 2-inch squares. Use the back of a fork to press the edges of each, to seal. Cover. Repeat.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add some of the ravioli and simmer until meat is cooked through and pasta tender, about 4 minutes. Scoop out with a slotted spoon. Repeat. When all ravioli are cooked, drizzle with butter and dust with cheese.
To make the filling: Gently mix together ¼ pound ground beef, ¼ pound ricotta cheese, 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1 egg, 1 clove garlic (chopped), and a little salt, pepper and nutmeg. Chill.
Makes 4 servings.
Adapted from “Mama D’s Italian Cooking with a Pinch” by Giovanna D’Agostino