bellagio cooking class: ravioli ricotta e erbette

As if the dream destination proposal and vintage ring weren't enough, Robert arranged a vegetarian cooking class as birthday gift from his parents!

We began by gathering our ingredients from various specialty shops around Bellagio. Our instructor explained a bit about common Italian ingredients and why she prefers to buy certain things at one shop over another.

Back in the kitchen, we popped a bottle of Prosecco, nibbled on Parmigiano Reggiano drizzled with a delightfully thick and sweet 12 year old Balsamic vinegar from Modena and got to work on our erbetti and cheese ravioli, which we paired with a sage-butter sauce.  Erbetti is like spinach, except not exactly, but close enough :)

I'd always wanted to make homemade pasta, but found it really intimidating. It's actually much easier than pie crust, which also intimidated me at one point in time, but turned out to be no big deal. 

This recipe is for two people; the general rule of thumb for pasta dough is 100g of flour to one egg, per person.
Pasta Dough
200g flour
2 eggs
salt

Ravioli Filling
500g spinach
200g ricotta
50 gr parmigiano reggiano
1/4 t nutmeg
salt
pepper

Sage Butter Sauce
30g butter per person
fresh sage leaves


 The Filling
Boil the spinach, squeeze out as much water as possible and let it cool.  Blend the spinach with the rest of the filling ingredients, until smooth.  We used a food processor.

  The Ravioli
homemade ravioli bellagio cooking class
According to our instructor, wood is the best surface for making pasta dough.  Make a mound with your flour, and hollow out a well in the center, you should be able to see the surface of the worktop.  Crack the eggs in to the well and add a pinch of salt.

homemade ravioli bellagio cooking class
Using a fork, scramble the egg, gradually adding a bit of flour to the mix.  

homemade ravioli bellagio cooking class
Eventually, the egg mixture will become white and firm.  At that point, stir in the rest of the flour and knead it until a dough forms.  Shape it into a ball and let it rest for 30 minutes.

When it's time to roll out the pasta, sprinkle the pasta machine with flour, break off a bit of dough, flatten it, and roll it though on the first (biggest) setting of the pasta machine.  Roll it through 2-3 times, then move to the next smallest setting, roll it through 2-3 times, then go to the next smallest setting, etc.  When you can see your hand through it, it's done.  Don't forget to keep flouring your machine!

A note about rolling out pasta...  it's a two person job because the dough is easily mangled if you can't keep hold of it coming out of the machine.  If you have to work alone, just roll smaller batches, which are much less unwieldy coming out of the roller.  I'd start by rolling 1/4 of this recipe and see how it goes.

homemade ravioli bellagio cooking class
Next, on a flour dusted work surface, cut the dough into squares.  Put a bit of filling in the center of each square, cover it with another dough square, and crimp the edges.   A little filling goes a long way... use about half of what you think you need, or risk them bursting when you go to boil them! 

homemade ravioli bellagio cooking class
Sprinkle the finished ravioli with flour, let them rest for a bit, turning them over every so often, so they dry. Cook by boiling them for 4-5 minutes.

The Sage Butter Sauce
This could not be easier!   Melt the butter over low heat, then add a dozen or so sage leaves, and simmer until the butter starts to brown.  Add the cooked ravioli to the butter, sauté for a minute or so, then plate it, and top it with additional sage butter and grated parmigiano reggiano.

homemade ravioli bellagio cooking class
It was a perfect day!

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