Has it happened to you? A recipe or dish just gets stuck on your mind and the only way you can get it out of your system is to cook it once...and until then it haunts you every time you are in the kithcen or watching TV or out shopping. Yes ?? Thank God! then I am not alone :D It was ravioli for me. My favorite Italian restaurant serves a mean mushroom ravioli, and everyone who has eaten it swears by it. I haven't tried it because a certain kind of mushroom (don't know which) triggers a very bad stomach ache for me and so I avoid anything that has mushrooms when eating out. I guess that was when the ravioli madness started...
I went by the frozen pasta aisle in my grocery store a couple of times, but stopped myself from buying any of the vegetarian ravioli's they had because they were overstuffed with cheese. With me trying to control my diet, that was a very bad option. So I decided I would make them....yess, that crazy! I watched two different shows on TV in a week, which made fresh pasta, I also picked up this wonderful Italian cookbook from the library which started out explaining how good pasta can be made at home. Now that was the last straw...
So off I went shopping for my pasta, I picked up a pack of frozen spinach because RR is always telling how much cheaper it is than fresh spinach, then I picked up some 'light' ricotta cheese and a pound of guilt. Yes, its still cheese, right ? As I was going through the dairy section I saw some lite silken tofu and that flashed a bulb. Why not substitute the cheese like a vegan version of ravioli? I love tofu and since I was pairing it with spinach and pasta and other garnishes, it surely wouldn't taste that bad. So last weekend I set out making my own pasta at home...from scratch...Yay! It was easier than I thought, but was also time consuming. May be because it was my first time and I had not figured out the exact method etc., etc., so I spent roughly about 30-40 mins making 10 ravioli's :)) Well, don't forget to account for the photography breaks though. Every time I wanted to click a pic, I had to wash, wipe and dry my hands; get the camera, click and immediately tuck it safely away from the kitchen and all that flour. So not really bad from plain flour to plated ravioli right?
Here goes the recipe, I made an egg-less version ofcourse.
- 1 cup + 1/4 cup- All purpose flour (whole wheat flour can also be used)
- 1/4 cup + - Water
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 cup - Silken (lite) tofu, crumbled
- 1/2 cup - Spinach, thawed and water squeezed out
- 1 tsp - Red chilli flakes
- 1/2 tsp - Nutmeg powder
- Salt to taste
- 1-2 Tbsp - Soy milk/spinach water
- In a food processor, combine the tofu and spinach. Start out with dry squeezed spinach so that the stuffing is not watery. Add required amount of water/soy milk to then blend all the other ingredients together.
- Once blended, add the chilli flakes, nutmeg and salt and adjust the seasonings to taste.
- On to the dough, on a flat surface place your flour in a heap, add salt and mix. Make a well in the center and pour 1/2-3/4 of the water and slowly start stirring with a fork to incorporate the flour and water. Gradually add the rest of the water, and using your hands make a smooth dough kneading it well to form a round ball, resembling chapati dough. (Now, this method of making the dough was shown on TV and also described in the book. I am not sure why I cannot make it like normal chapati dough itself instead of the making a well, and using a fork n all. May be next time I will do it that way, and update the post with my results. If any of you know the reason, please do leave a comment)
- Once the dough is ready, divide it into two, and flatten one ball into a very thin layer. Use the extra flour to dust your surface, roller and hands. The dough has to be extremely thin and pliable, using all purpose flour instead of wheat flour I think helps here. Try to spread the dough in a rectangular shape instead of circular to avoid wastage.
- Now cut through the layers to form 1 1/2" to 2" squares. One round of dough gave me about 10 ravioli.
- Place a spoonful of the filling in the center of a square, wet the edges lightly with water and seal with another square. While sealing it try to get the air out of the center and press all four sides. Otherwise the ravioli may open up when boiling.
- Arrange the finished ravioli on a parchment paper so they don't stick to each other. You can freeze the ravioli or use them fresh.
- To cook them, bring a pot of water to a boil, salt it and then drop the ravioli into it. (If frozen, thaw them out first). They will initially sink to the bottom and slowly rise upwards when done. Drain them on a plate and serve them which ever way you like.
I made a simple topping for my ravioli. Heat a pan with a pat of butter, brown some finely chopped garlic and add some crushed red pepper flakes. Next toss in some grape/cherry tomatoes and saute on medium high heat until the tomatoes start to pop and burst. Add a Tbsp or two of the cooked pasta water, cook for a minute until it thickens a little and pour it over your ravioli and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm!
You can top them with marinara or cream sauce but if you have made the ravioli yourself, I would recommend a very basic topping so you get to taste the pasta by itself and not drown it in other sauces. You will also have extra stuffing from this recipe, hang on for more ways of using them :) If using fresh spinach, chop it finely and saute it in a little butter or oil. you could also add some finely chopped shallots to it if you like.
The stuffing was just right, soft and creamy with a clear spinach flavor. The ravioli were cooked perfectly and luckily for me were not doughy at all. The grape tomatoes were tangy and sweet, being a perfect compliment to the milder stuffing in the ravioli. The red pepper flakes added the right amount of spice that I like. In all it was just a perfect weekend adventure for me. I will surely make more of this soon, but for now, the craziness is gone and I am back to being normal :)