Last night, I made homemade, gluten-free ravioli. With a spinach-potato-goat cheese filling no less. And I made it without a pasta machine, a friendly helper, or a clean kitchen.
I have to admit—I’m so proud.
Crazy as I am, I wouldn’t have made this last night without a little prompting. Today is the last day of Scribes at Hugo House, and while it has been an enormous delight, filled with spontaneous laughter and startling writing, it has also been exhausting. I’m ready for long summer days with no plans again. And sleeping in. So I could have used a long evening, a movie to watch, a nap. But not me. Instead, I chose to make homemade ravioli for the first time, make gluten-free pasta for the first time. Why?
Why, it’s a food blog competition, of course. Expect a lot of these from me. How could I resist communing with foodies around the world, all of us making the same dish in the same week?
It’s just that I chose to do this on a night when my kitchen looked as though someone had thrown dishes indiscriminately on the counters, when I had stayed up far too late the night before, working on an important piece of writing, when I had been teaching all day, and I still had a query letter to write.
But first, I had to take a bike ride.
(You have to understand. The light outside was achingly beautiful, and after a full day of teaching, I need to move.)
I gathered the ingredients. Fred Meyer for gluten-free flour (the GFP French bread mix, of course) at $5.29 a pound. Yikes, it’s expensive to have celiac disease. A few new GF products, which I’ll write about another time. A bunch of organic spinach. Yukon gold potatoes. A head of garlic. But unfortunately, Fred Meyer has lousy, pre-packaged cheese. Nothing I would put in my homemade ravioli. So, the shopping wasn’t done. I drove home in crepuscular light, grinning at the thought of cooking again. As the days go by, no matter how fully I am joining the day, there’s always a part of me thinking: “What am I going to cook tonight?”
(I really should find a boyfriend, just for all the food I have to share.)
So I unloaded the bike, the groceries, the bungee cords from the bike rack. Humming as I climbed the stairs, I set out to cook. But the messiness of the kitchen slapped me in the face. (The past few days, I’ve been letting it go, in the face of big writing assignments and all-day teaching gigs.) Twenty minutes of scurrying and flinging dishes in the dishwasher, and I at least had some clean surface to work on.
And then I remembered the cheese. Luckily, I have Ken’s Market across the street. A locally owned grocery store, they have little gourmet items tucked away in interesting corrners. So I grabbed some shredded parmigiano and some soft goat cheese. Now I could start cooking.
Wait, where’s the camera?
I took out the food processor and dumped in the silky-white, gluten-free flour. A little olive oil. Salt. And the eggs.…
I’m out of eggs.
Back to Ken’s. Thank goodness I lived across the street from Ken’s. And that they stay open until 10. By now, they’re used to seeing me walk in with flour on my shirt and a rushed look on my face.
And finally, I made the ravioli.
It really wasn’t difficult, just time intensive. But from start to finish (once I had all the fricking ingredients in front of me), it took about an hour. It was messy—flour everywhere in the end, including in the glass of water I dunked my finger in to stick the edges of the ravioli together. It was far more work than ten raviolis would seem to warrant. My kitchen is even more cluttered now.
But damn, they were good.
I put the ravioli on a splash of balsamic-port reduction, and topped them with parmigiano and slivers of rosemary. For the filling, I used mashed potatoes with handfuls of fresh spinach, herbed sea salt, goat cheese, parmigiano, and rosemary.
And there’s enough potato filling left over to make some incredible potato pancakes, later today.
Boy, though, I’m going to sleep well tonight.
GLUTEN-FREE RAVIOLI WITH A POTATO-SPINACH FILLING
2–1/2 cups gf flour (I used the Gluten-Free Pantry’s French Bread Flour Mix)
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 egg yolk
* Place GF flour in a food processor. Add salt, oil and eggs. Pulse processor until mixture resembles dough. Remove from the bowl and place on a lightly GF floured surface.
* Knead dough by folding over and turning over and kneading for a few minutes, until the right consistency appears (somewhat like bread dough). If the dough is too dry and crumbly, add remaining egg white. It won’t be, though.
* Wrap the dough in plastic wrap or put in a bowl and cover. Allow dough to rest for at least 20 minutes. (This part is KEY to GF flour).
* For the filling (from the Jamie Oliver recipe dispensed on the web, and so I’ll use quotation marks):
“2 pounds all-purpose potatoes
4 cloves garlic, peeled, chopped
4 or 5 good handfuls of spinach (the recipe calls for watercress, but I couldn’t find any)
1/4 cup butter
10 — 12 oz. cheese, extra for garnish
Grated nutmeg, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
“Wash and peel the potatoes, put them into well-salted, boiling water with the garlic and cook until the potatoes are just tender (it is very important not to under– or overcook them). Drain them and let them sit for about five minutes to enable the excess water to evaporate (if you overcook them or don’t drain them correctly they’ll be too moist and your filling will be too wet).
When the potatoes have cooled slightly, add your butter and your chosen cheeses. Stir and mash with a fork to mix and break the potatoes up (I like to leave the mixture slightly chunky). Add the nutmeg and seasoning to taste. Stir in the spinach.”
* From here, the recipe calls for particular actions with the pasta machine. But since I don’t own one (yet), I simply rolled out the dough like a pie dough—carefully—then cut it with the ravioli cutter I bought at Sur La Table on Sunday. The recipe called for us to put some filling on one side of the ravioli dough, then fold it over, but that didn’t look like ravioli to me. So I put some filling in the middle, then placed another one on top. (Dab a little water on the inside portion of the ravioli to make them stick together.)
* Cook the ravioli a few at a time in boiling, salted water. Cook for about one minute, or until the ravioli begin to float on the surface of the water.
* Drain the ravioli with a slotted spoon and put it on a pretty plate. Cover with more olive oil, some shredded cheese, pine nuts, or whatever you would like.