Despite what the calendar might say, there aren’t many signs of spring to be seen just yet. I’m not complaining though. The frigid temperatures have given me a valid reason to stay inside and try some of the many recipes that, for one reason or another, are not warm weather fare.
The first recipe I have always wanted to try was ravioli with red sauce and meatballs.(Don’t worry. Those of you who are screaming for a cream sauce…it is in the works.) We will break this up into three parts and walk you through the steps. While it does take a bit of elbow grease, the end result is well worth it.
PART 1: The Sauce
Red sauce goes by many different names. Marinara, spaghetti sauce, or “Sunday gravy” are just to name a few. Whatever you like to call it says as much about where you are from as what you would put into the sauce.
Mince up one large onion and at least two cloves of garlic. Melt one or two Tbsp butter and one Tbsp olive oil in the bottom of your stock pot then add the onions and garlic. In five to ten minutes the onions will become translucent. That’s when you know it is time to add the tomatoes and herbs. Rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, and marjoram are all good options for seasoning. Pick your favorites. How many cans of tomato sauce and diced tomatoes you use is entirely dependent on how many people you are trying to feed. Our family of five uses 6 cans combined. On low heat you can let this simmer all day if you like. The longer it simmers the more water that will cook off and more of the flavor will come through. If you are in a hurry you can thicken the sauce with tomato paste as well. Stay close to your stove though, stirring occasionally.
PART 2: The Meatballs
Making your own meatballs is fairly simple. If you have ground meat and an ice cream scoop you are ready to get down to it. 2 ½ lbs of meat will feed the whole family and provide plenty of leftovers to freeze to use later for quick meals on weekday nights. Ground turkey is what is used around here but you can use whatever tickles your fancy. Combine the thawed meat with bread crumbs, minced onion, minced garlic, eggs, salt, pepper and some the herbs that were mentioned above.The amount of bread crumbs will change based on the meat used, the size of the eggs as well as the weather. No, I’m not joking, humidity changes things.
Use a stand mixer or kitchen gadget if you like but nothing seems to work quite as well as my own two hands to get this completely worked together. You are looking for a consistency of meaty play dough.
Once mixed, use an ice cream scoop to get uniform sized meatballs, that way they will all be done at the same time. Bake at 350 on a cookies sheet with a rack to allow the grease to drip off. Use a meat thermometer to check for proper temperature.
PART 3: The Pasta
Use a food processor with a dough blade or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. You will need some arm strength left for the rolling pin.
First, start with 1½ cups of flour and 2 eggs. Start on the lowest setting unless you would like to recreate a mushroom cloud of flour dust in your kitchen. Once it is looking incorporated then add just enough water to make the dough workable. Start with one tablespoon and add one more at a time. You don’t want it too sticky. Once you have dough that has pulled away from the sides of bowl and is forming a natural ball then cover with plastic wrap, tin foil, or a bowl with a snap seal lid. Let it rest for at least thirty minutes.
When you are ready to start rolling the dough split it into two pieces. It makes the rolling easier.(If you are lucky enough to have a pasta roller this is a snap.) Roll out your dough till it is less than an eighth on an inch thick. Cut it into 2×2 squares, a pizza cutter or pastry wheel will make quick work of this.
When I made these I used fresh mozzarella but you can use spinach feta, squash anything you like. With a small teaspoon place the filling on one half of the 2×2 square, brush with an egg wash along the edges and crimp the edges with a fork. Once the ravioli is assembled they can be frozen and used at a later time.
Cook the ravioli in small batches to prevent them sticking to the bottom of your pot or each other. Boil them for 3-5 minutes and ladle them out and repeat. Serve with the red sauce and meatballs.