Sunday, July 18, 2010

Ravioli Fun in Two Colors

Who doesn't love ravioli? I know they're one of my favorite things.  And sure, there are a few vegan ravioli options out there...but  if you have some extra time to spend in the kitchen, why not make some of your own? They're not that difficult to make (it's actually pretty fun) and, you have total control of what's in the filling...there's no end to the flavors and combos one can devise around those! They don't have to be picture perfect either, they just have to stay together while cooking and taste good.

This weekend, it so happened that I had some of that elusive stuff called spare time, so I decided to have some fun and make ravioli.  Inspired by a common pasta combo of green and yellow pasta called "paglia e fieno" or "straw and hay", I made two different doughs: a green dough  and a regular old plain pasta dough, which passes as yellow my book. (You could make it more yellow by adding some saffron, but I didn't bother with that.)

I think the green dough is traditionally made with spinach or nettles, but why not get a little crazy and try collards (or any other leafy green)?  It's not meant to impart any particular flavor--it is more for the color effect anyway.

For the dough, I usually go with Vegan Dad's recipe (Thanks Vegan Dad!), which I highly recommend. It's simple and makes a very easy-to-work-with dough. To make the green dough, I added about 12 (smallish-sized) collard greens to the regular recipe...all tolled, it was about 2 cups worth of finely chopped raw collards added to the basic recipe.

We don't have a pasta machine, but I find that provided you let the dough rest first, rolling it out by hand is just as easy.  Even if you do have a pasta machine, resting the dough is a good idea. To do this, roll the dough up into a ball, wrap it in some cellophane so it won't dry out and let it sit for 30 minutes or so. The dough becomes more relaxed and easy to work with after resting...isn't that true for us all? :)

Another important consideration is the workspace where you will you roll out the dough.  Make sure you give yourself ample room, and ideally the surface should be nice and cool...(i.e., it might not be the easiest thing to do in the midst of a heat wave). I use a granite slab pastry board that is ideal for working with doughs; it stays cool, and when lightly dusted with flour, nary a dough will stick.

In order to achieve sturdy ravioli that won't break open when you cook them, work gently with the dough, keeping a light dusting of semolina flour on your work surface and a tad bit on top of the dough and your rolling'll probably have to keep dusting it with more flour as you go. The important things are to get a uniform thickness in the dough and ensuring there are no tears or wholes in it.

Once rolled out to ~ 1/16 inch ( ~ 1.5 mm) thickness,  it may not look like a tidy bit dough to cut ravioli from, but that's easily fixed by trimming the dough to form a rectangle.

At this point, it's just a matter of dolloping the filling on in rows, placing the other half of the dough over it, and cutting out little squares.

You can make a sort of pastry "glue" by mixing some flour and water together (say 1 tablespoon flour and 2 tablespoons water) and brushing it around the dough where the edges of the ravioli will be. This will help the dough stick together.

After the squares are cut, gently reinforce the seal by pressing around the perimeter with your fingers. If you use a ravioli cutter, you get those nice little scalloped edges. (Alternately, you could make a half-moon variety of filled pasta, like the ones in this post.)

In the picture above, you can see where some flour/water "glue" is brushed around the filling.

Speaking of the filling,  I used a recipe for cashew cheese from The Conscious Cook cookbook. This recipe needs to be made in advance (you need to soak the cashews for several hours, and then another 14-16 hours for the probiotic cultures to form). Having ravioli on the brain this weekend, I started the cheese process yesterday morning. (Of course, you don't have to fill ravioli with cashew cheese, or vegan cheese of any kind for that matter...the options are limitless and up to your own taste, mood, and creativity.)

The basic method for making the cashew cheese is quite common and easily found online so I think it's safe to divulge. For instance, you can find the full recipe for the cashew cheese and what Mr. Ronnen makes with it here.

Basic cashew cheese method from The Conscious Cook, by Tal Ronnen:

Soak 2 cups raw cashews in water for 12 -14 hours. After the cashews have soaked, dissolve 1 tsp probiotic powder in 1 cup warm water, rinse the cashews and blend them in a food processor with the dissolved probiotics. Now, transfer to a clean bowl, cover and let it sit in a warm place for another 14-16 hours.

After it has set for the required amount of can add in any extra ingredients you like for the filling. I didn't follow the rest of the recipe from the book, but rather added the following:

(not Tal's additions):

1/4 cup nutritional yeast
the zest and juice of 1 organic lemon
1/2 cup of finely chopped chives
1 cup diced zucchini
1 tsp sea salt (or to taste)

 lemon-chive cashew cheese with zucchini

The filling has a light lemon flavor and the zucchini pieces add a nice toothsome dimension.

Here's a shot of the top and bottom of the colored ravioli:

left=top  / right=bottom

If you wanted to get creative, you could probably come up with more artistic ways to combine the two doughs. For example, you could try overlapping strips of each dough slightly and rolling them out side by side to form one large stripey piece of dough...that would be fun. But I'll leave that for another day. I stuck with using one color of dough for the top and the other for the bottom, switching halfway through so some ravioli have green tops/yellow bottoms and some have yellow tops/green bottoms.

Here are the resulting ravioli. They're not picture perfect, but I'm pretty sure they'll hold together, and I sure hope they taste good:

ravioli colorati w/ collards and lemon-chive cashew filling

Once you have the ravioli made you can store them in the fridge for about 5-6 days, or freeze them. Freezing them is a good strategy because, in my experience, they tend to cook up better and without any breakage from a frozen state.

In order to avoid any breakages or filling mishaps, add them into gently boiling water and keep the heat such that they don't go into a rapid, rolling boil. Unlike regular unfilled pasta, ravioli don't fair too well at a rapid boil. You'll have to judge as you go how long to cook will depend on the thickness of the dough and the shape/size of ravioli...but generally speaking, they are cooked when they rise to the surface...usually in about 6-8 minutes.

Ciao for now...have fun, make some ravioli!

Roseann LaPonte
Rosanne Tobin


  1. hey there, i left a message but i dont think it went through, just wanted to say how great i thought your instructions were and that i LOVE how you tinted the dough using natural ingredients!!

  2. WOW, these look phenomenal!! Also, I have had my eye on that pasta recipe from Vegan Dad's blog for lo these many months yet, but have yet to muster the energy to make it. This post is great motivation, though!

  3. I have had ravioli on the brain for weeks. Very impressive that you made them without a pasta machine. Clearly you have more patience than I do. ;-) From one Italian to another your ravioli look great.


  4. Rose,
    They are both absolutely beautiful. I have to admit I have never ever made pasta from scratch, always thought you needed one of those pasta gadget things for which my kitchen is just not suitable, but of course not the case as you have demonstrated. But the room for rolling out the dough may still be. We will see.

    In my childhood days i remember seeing ravioli in a tomato sauce and thinking they look good, but later learned they had meat which I didn't eat. It has crossed my mind to make my own, but I always somehow forget. You have certainly encouraged me to have a go and I will for sure one of these coming weekend.

    Thank you

  5. You make it look so easy. Ravioli is my favorite and I actually own a pasta roller which I've never opened. But I know I am just too damned lazy to ever make my own. I do hope you post some 'after' pics of the cooked pasta and let us know how you enjoyed them

  6. Michelle,

    Thanks, fresh pasta is easy to tint w/ natural ingredients, and there are some fun ones, like beet for purple-ish pasta, carrot/pumpking for orange, and even cocoa powder for brown pasta...hey that sounds yummy!


    Thanks as always for your kind words and definitely give VD's pasta a comes together in a snap.


    Seems like we've both had ravioli on the brain...we must be sending cross-country ravioli brain waves to each other. I'm sure the ravioli you come up with will be super healthy too...I was trying to think of some type of vegetable to make ravioli with...but not sure how that would work...Tal Ronnen comes close with his beet rollovers (the ones that I got cheese recipe from). Or I was also thinking of some sort of eggplant pocket type things, which you could eat on a plate like ravioli with sauce. Oh, so may possibilities, so little time! :)


    I'm sure you'd be a dab hand at pasta making! Space is an issue in my kitchen too, but I sort of make due with my pastry board,even though there's bit of clutter around it.

    In the past, I've used a dining table as a work bench for doughs...not ideal, but possibly better than a narrow countertop. Can't wait to see your pasta creations!


    I'm often too lazy to get stuck in to pasta making too...but sometimes if you in that particular mood, it's worth the effort. I'll try to remember to snap a shot of them when we eat them, which will be the true test of whether it was a successful effort or not. :)

  7. Making ravioli is so much fun and yours look great. I was so intimidated the first time I tried it but it was not as difficult as I expected. :) You make it look easy.

  8. Wow, you are amazing. I am so intimated my making my own pasts. tried once to make ravioli, but they turned out not-so-great. Hope I have the chance to make your recipe one day.

  9. I totally want to make ravioli now. They are so cute. We always buy those Rising Moon packs...but they have, like 10, raviolis in a package which is nowhere near enough for us. Thanks for the fun idea.

  10. I just made pasta with Vegan Dad's recipe! It worked much better for me than others I've tried. I think ravioli will be my next project; you do make this look easy. I love the color combo. What an impressive dish!

  11. HayMarket,

    I'm glad you agree that it's fun; think everyone is a little intimidated the first time...I know I was too. Love to see your ravioli inventions sometime.

    Vegan Tickles,

    Hi! I've had ravioli/pasta failures too...but take gets easier each time.


    I buy the Rising Moon ones sometimes too; we like the squash flavor, but you're right; it would cost a fortune to feed a family on those. I think making your own is definitely a way to go....loads of ravioli for a fraction of the cost.


    I know...isn't it a great recipe? It comes together in a snap and it must just be the right formula because it is easy to work with too! Hope you post your pasta dish...I'd love to see it.

  12. Wow, Rose, such an impressive post on so many levels! Your ravioli looks delicious and the colors are so summery/scrumptious!

    My Italian great-aunt used to make ravioli, but she lived 2000+ miles away and I only got to see her once a year, so I rarely got to eat it. And for some unknown reason, no one else on that side of the fam ever made it, so I just didn't grow up eating it or learn to make it. I may have to try my hand at your recipe(s) and techniques this winter, when I have more time and am much more in a culinary mood!

    And I think your weekend "hay" labors look like a lot more fun than mine! LOL

  13. I agree that ravioli making is more of a cooler weather thing to do...I know that in Italy these days they often use these little ravioli molds...
    like this one. They must be dead handy, as all you have to do is roll out the dough, place it over the mold, tucking the dough into the indentations, fill the indentations, lay another piece of dough over and roll a pin over it to crimp off the dough around the edges. It also makes for uniform ravioli...hey, maybe I need one of those!

    I never met (well, I did meet her, but I don't remember it) my Italian grandmother as she died the year after I was born, but my mom tells me she always had pasta of all forms strewn about the house drying.

    What part of Italy were your family from?

  14. I think you absolutely neeeeeeeed that ravioli mold! :-) I'd be putting that on my Christmas wish list, it looks like fun and handy indeed!

    Your grandmother's house festooned with drying pasta sounds wonderful! I can just picture it! It's too bad she didn't live long enough for you to spend time with her growing up. Bet you would have enjoyed making pasta together! :-)

    My Italian family came from a little village in Tuscany called Asciano. What about yours?

  15. Wow, Asciano must be lovely! My dad's family came from Potenza in the south. You know, it is a shame; I never met any of my grandparents...they all passed on before I was around at any capactity to know them.

  16. It's been ages since I last made ravioli, and you've made made me want to do it again ... now. Your instructions are so clear and the photos so enticing ... who could resist? Yours look so perfect and plump!

  17. I love how there are two different colors for one ravioli! This is definitely a recipe for when I have that elusive spare time, too. But, when I do, I really enjoy involved recipes. Looks beautiful as usual.

  18. Andrea,

    Ravioli-making is something I only engage in once in a while should make some again soon, I'd love to see your creations.


    The two colors did ramp up the fun factor...with 3 kids, spare time must be very elusive around your place! I bet kids would have a ball with the dough.

  19. Hi, Rose!

    Turns out that Asciano link I shared is to the wrong Asciano (near Siena), but the one my grandfather came from is 10 minutes from Pisa. (I didn't know there were two Ascianos, but the fact he always called it "Asciano di Pisa" should have clued me in!) :-) I couldn't find a web site for my Nonno's Asciano Pisano in English, but I did find this real estate site that's located there (in case you were in the market for a Tuscan villa or anything!) ;-) I mainly wanted to share it because it has a map of Asicano and there's a street on it named Via Italo Possenti, and Possenti is my family's surname! :-)

    That really is too bad you were never able to know any of your grandparents. Three of mine lived into their 90's (my Italian grandfather dying weeks before his 88th birthday), so I got to know all of them quite well (not necessarily a positive thing in a couple of cases, lol!) My Italian great-grandfather died when I was 10, so I kind of got to know him too (I say "kind of" because he only spoke Italian. I'd really love to learn to speak it some day! Can you? Have you been able to visit Italy? I haven't yet - it's at the top of my Bucket List, though!) :-)

    I really do want to make ravioli this fall/winter! Thanks for the info and inspiration, paisan! :-)

  20. v. cool about the street with your family name in Asciano di Pisa...I'm sure there are still lots of Possenti on the ground there. You'll have to take a special promenade along that street when you visit someday in an especially stately manner that conveys that you are the mistress of all you survey. LOL :) As for Tuscan villas? Only in my dreams...

    My family name is LoPonte, which became transmuted into LaPonte here in the US. I can speak rudimentary Italian, but have quite a good passive (listening/reading) comprehension of it because 1) my dad was a native speaker, and 2) I speak fluent Spanish and French and Italian is similar to Spanish phonetically, and of course similar to both grammatically. I've been to Italy once with my mom about 20 years ago...we stayed in La Spezia and along the Cinque Terre. We met up with some distant cousins there.

    Sounds like longevity runs in your family, which is great! In my case, it's the opposite unfortunately (knock on wood).

  21. LOL - I shall practice my queenly wave and stately promenade strolling technique so that when I sashay down Via Italo Possenti, the locals will toss down fresh basil and rosemary leaves for me to tread upon. :-)

    Oh, you have those dreams too?! A Tuscan villa... *sigh*

    I'm wicked impressed that you speak fluent Spanish and French! I minored in Spanish and was nearly fluent, but have lost almost all of it. (Some of it came back on my 3 weeks in Costa Rica a few years ago, but it's gone again now!) French I never did learn. Took a semester of Russian in college, which was fun! I can still remember how to say some things, but get little opportunity to use any of it. :-) How cool that your dad was a native speaker of Italian, and that you can read and understand it so well!

    The transmutation of your (pretty!) family name reminds me of a time when my grandmother transmuted hers. :-) The grandmother I mention on my blog sometimes, Ruth, was married to my grandfather the Possenti. By the time she was in her 80s she was so tired of having to spell her name for people all the time that one day when she was placing an order on the phone and was asked for her name, she said, "Poe. Ruth Poe." LOL (Hey, I wonder if Edgar Allen is a distant relation?!)

    How fun that you and your mom got to go to Italy and meet some distant cousins! Was it as much fun as it sounds? I don't know when I'll get to go, but I can hardly wait! :-)

    I think sheer orneriness is what keeps my family alive so long. LOL I'm sorry to hear your family suffers early demises. I'm sure that your healthy lifestyle will allow you to live long and prosper, however! (And if that doesn't work, may I suggest being ornery?) ;-)

    Have a great weekend, Rose!

  22. Lalo,

    I'm sure your Spanish is fine. I studied French in college and had a couple French-speaking boy friends (one from Algeria, and one who was Serbian, but both parents were French professors at U of Belgrade, so his French was excellent (not to mention the umpteen other languages he spoke!)...always helps to learn a language when amore is involved. As for Spanish...I lived in Spain for 6 years, and while the Spanish I speak is not exactly works for me. Having said all that...of course I'm a bit rusty...but I find that given the chance, things tend to come flooding back.

  23. Oh, and thanks for the tip on orneriness...I think I may just give that a go. ;)

    Also, great story about your Grandma. I'll have to archive that idea....might come in handy someday...although my married name is easy to never knows!

  24. i didn't know you made ravioli! love the green color..yours looks beautiful!

  25. Jacklyn,

    Making different color pasta dough is super fun, like with cocoa for brown, or saffron for yellow, or beets for ravioli are no where near as pretty as yours though! You've inspired me to get one of those ravioli molds!


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