Anyone who knows me can attest to my love for all things Italian. Thin crust pizza, pasta, mascarpone, prosciutto, prosecco, bellinis, risotto...the list goes on and on. While my husband Kelly is not Italian (but I love him anyway) he does share my affinity for Italian delicacies. This could possibly be why he decided to take me to Italy for our honeymoon several January's ago.
We planned our trip to coincide with the slow time here in Salado. We didn't think twice about the rainy weather or the freezing temperatures. We just wanted to experience Italy together and thought snuggling under an umbrella at a deserted cafe sounded rather romantic. As it turns out, it was ridiculously romantic and when we weren't huddled together for warmth, we found our way into some fabulous places. Sure we saw all there was to see in Florence, Bologna, and Verona but food is always at the top of our list, especially when we travel.
There was the pizza place where no one spoke English, on who's wall Kelly managed to spill an entire glass of wine, and the candlelit five course dinner in Verona where the risotto was well worth the nightmarish 48 hours of flying on our return trip. (I should add here that I'm terrified of flying and actually didn't get on a plane for a year after this trip...for me to say it was worth the crazy flight back is really saying something.) We had fabulous meal after fabulous meal but the one that stands out the most was in a little cafe in the heart of Verona where the bartender led us upstairs into a deserted room and basically ordered the Lime Ricotta Ravioli in Brown Butter for us.
It is this ravioli that Kelly and I returned home to recreate for each of our special occasions and celebrations. There is something so loving about kneading pasta dough together and cutting out the little round shapes. Something so decadent about the warm butter and creamy ricotta. Build yourself a fire and you've got a rather sensuous date planned. It's definitely a process but one that's well worth the trouble. And you can freeze the ravioli so your day of work can be enjoyed countless times. We now feature it on our Fall menu and I must say, I just don't get tired of eating it. I'm (of course) not supposed to since it's not exactly a Nutrisystem entree but who am I kidding? Handmade ravioli makes me happy.
What follows is the recipe we use at the restaurant for our Lime Filled Ricotta Ravioli. One cold winter's night, when your cable goes out, build yourself a fire, grab your honey (or mom, kid, bestie, neighbor, etc.) and make some pasta! It might inspire you the same way it does us.
Lime Ricotta Filled Ravioli with Brown Butter
Pasta: 4 cups of Semolina Flour
6 tablespoons white wine
Pinch of kosher salt
Filling: 2 cup ricotta cheese
Zest of one lime
3 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup grated parmesan
Salt and Pepper to taste
Sauce: 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 clove garlic
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Small cup of water
Round cookie cutter
Sheet pan lined with parchment paper
Damp dish towel to keep pasta from drying out
Large pot of salted, boiling water
Small sauce pot
First you will need to prepare the pasta dough. Place semolina flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle of the flour. Add eggs and white wine to well and beat with a fork until combined. Gently stir the egg and wine mixture into the flour mixture. When it begins to come together, remove from bowl onto a semolina floured surface. Knead dough for 20 minutes and add splashes of wine if dough is breaking apart or more semolina if dough is too sticky. Your finished dough should be like playdough...soft and malleable but holding it's shape. Wrap the dough in saran wrap and let rest for another 20 minutes. In the meantime, mix the ingredients for the filling together and set aside. Also, now is the time to put salty water on to boil. It should be salty like the sea. Trust me, it's a lot saltier than you think.
After dough has fully rested, break the ball into five equal parts. Using a pasta roller, gently roll one mound of dough beginning on the number 1 and moving eventually to the number 7. Once you get it to a number 7 thickness, the dough is ready to be made into ravioli. Put each sheet as you finish rolling it onto the parchment paper lined sheet pan and cover with the damp dishtowel. The pasta will dry out quickly and become too stiff to cut. Place the sheet onto a semolina floured surface. Put teaspoon size mounds of ricotta mixture onto the pasta sheet about 1 inch apart. Using your index finger, wetted from your bowl of water, make a wet circle around your ricotta mound. Lay another sheet of pasta over the ricotta mounds, gently pressing around the mounds to seal the two pieces together. Using your round cutter, cut out circles making sure the ricotta mound is centered. Pinch the edges of the ravioli to make certain they are sealed and place onto baking sheet and cover with the damp dishtowel. Repeat until all pasta is used. Save the scraps for a rustic pasta night. It is at this point the pasta can be frozen. Make sure none of the ravioli are touching and place sheet pan in freezer. After they are frozen you can put them into individual serving bags and just pull one out when you get the yearning for homemade ravioli.
Now for the most wonderful and simple sauce out there. Place butter, garlic, and salt in a sauce pot and melt over medium high heat. You will notice the butter bubbles quite a bit. This is the water being cooked out of it. When the bubbling slows down, it's time pay very close attention to your butter. I swirl mine in the pan until the butter turns a very light brown and then turn off the heat. Set aside.
Place the ravioli in small batches into boiling water. Because they are fresh, they should take about 4 minutes to cook. When cooking frozen, double the cooking time. Remove pasta with a slotted spoon and place into a bowl. Spoon brown butter over pasta and top with a sprinkling of shredded parmesan. Pour yourself some wine and enjoy the fruits of your labor!