We’re big fans of homemade pasta dough because it’s light and delicate and the perfect vehicle for sauce. But when it comes to ravioli, the emphasis is on rich and flavorful fillings. In this post, we’ll explore tips for making and cutting ravioli dough, as well as how to stuff those delectable pasta pillows. We’ll also share a few recipes for ravioli fillings that might convince you to give homemade pasta dough a try.
Tips for Ravioli Dough
It really is fine to use all-purpose flour for pasta dough, whether you’re making lasagna or fettuccine or ravioli. Italian cooking purists will insist upon 00 flour, which is expensive and can be difficult to find. If you want to try using semolina flour, Bob’s Red Mill is found in most grocery stores, but it’s also priced higher than all-purpose flour. For your first foray into homemade pasta dough, there’s no need to splurge.
However, Bon Appetit does recommend adding oil to your ravioli dough for elasticity. That’s because it’s important to roll your ravioli dough as thin as possible without it tearing or splitting once you add the filling. How thin? Bon Appetit claims you should “be able to see the shadow of your hand” behind the dough. Keep rolling and folding and adjusting the settings of your pasta roller to get thinner and thinner sheets.
Tips for Ravioli Fillings
When making ravioli, the filling should be the primary source of flavor, not the pasta or the sauce. In fact, err on the side of seasoning your filling more than you might think is necessary. Because it will be encased in pasta, you want to be sure the flavor of your filling comes through. Serious Eats insists your filling should be delicious enough to eat on its own. Use thick, substantial fillings that will hold together and not seep out from the seams of your ravioli. Amateur Italian chef Stefan recommends refrigerating your fillings prior to assembling your ravioli. This strategy will also give those flavors time to meld and intensity.
Tips for Stuffing and Cutting Ravioli
There’s no right or wrong way to stuff and cut your ravioli as long as you minimize air bubbles and seal the edges. Large pockets of air will expand while cooking and cause your ravioli to burst. Likewise, edges can split open while cooking if they aren’t sealed well.
Stuff plenty of filling into each pasta pillow. Remember the filling is the star of the show, not the pasta dough. The dough will stretch over the filling, and you can gently press around it to nudge any trapped air out of there. A fluted pastry cutter will create the traditional scalloped or zig-zag edge, but a knife or even a pizza wheel will work too. Finally, be sure to dust your ravioli with flour on both sides and turn them over to prevent them from sticking.
Tips for Cooking Ravioli
Put the stockpot away. You can cook boxed or frozen pasta in a deep pot of water at a rolling boil, but homemade ravioli requires a gentler touch. We love this brilliant tip from Vera Pasta Company: Use a large skillet or saute pan to cook homemade ravioli, and keep the water simmering, not boiling. This approach is easier on your delicate pasta pillows. Also, use a slotted spoon to carefully remove the ravioli from the water.
4 Ravioli Filling Recipes to Try
Now you’ve got all the best tips we could find to make your homemade ravioli turn out perfectly. Are you ready to whip up some filling to stuff those ravioli? Check out these ideas we found. Each one sounds more delicious than the last!
1. Mushroom Ravioli Filling
This one is for the mushroom lovers, and it’s a great option when cooking vegetarian. You may recall our post about various types of mushrooms. This recipe from Better Homes & Gardens calls for the most common type of fresh mushrooms, along with dried porcini mushrooms, a delicacy only found in the wild. Combine these two ingredients with Italian parsley and fresh garlic, plus ricotta cheese, olive oil, egg yolk, and salt and pepper for a creamy, rich filling bursting with umami.
2. Butternut Squash Ravioli Filling
You can almost always find butternut squash in the produce section, but it’s especially suited to fall and winter meals. This recipe from The Organic Kitchen covers both filling and sauce. Peel and cube the squash, then roast it with fresh garlic and olive oil until the squash is tender. Add a few fresh sage leaves to the roasting pan in the final minutes of cooking. Then puree all that roasted goodness with pine nuts, Parmesan, and salt and pepper. Stuff your ravioli dough with this filling, and then serve your ravioli in browned butter with chopped fresh sage leaves.
3. Roasted Garlic and Goat Cheese Ravioli Filling
Garlic-lovers, we have your ravioli filling. In this recipe from Caroline Pestel, you’ll roast a whole head of garlic with olive oil, and salt and pepper. After it’s cooled down, remove the individual cloves of garlic, place them in a bowl, and mash them into a paste. You can use a fork, or a large mortar and pestle will work too. Combine the garlic paste with goat cheese, Parmesan cheese, fresh basil and chives, plus two egg yolks and more salt and pepper. This is one recipe where you don’t have to worry about under-seasoning; this filling is bursting with flavor.
4. Five-Cheese Ravioli Filling
Finally, for the purists among us, this recipe from I Am Baker is utterly decadent. Combine ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, Romano, and cream cheeses, along with minced garlic, diced parsley, and salt and pepper. It’s as simple as it gets, but sometimes simple is just what we want. Top your ravioli with the garlic brown butter sauce in the recipe, or a simple cream sauce works too.