Katie's Healthy Bites: Homemade Ravioli


The holidays are full of traditions. For as long as I can remember, my dad's family has celebrated the "Feast of the Seven Fishes" on Christmas Eve. Then on Christmas Day, both sides of the family have dinner and there is always pasta on the table -- often that means raviolis. My mom-mom and her sisters used to make them, but this year, my mother and I are carrying on the tradition.

Making homemade ravioli might sound like a lot of work (and my mom-mom and great aunts always made a day out of it), but it really is much simpler then you think. We made 150 in little less then two hours and they are beautiful!

Ravioli Dough Recipe

Makes 50 ravioli (10 servings of 5 ravioli each)
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

Pile the flour on a clean counter space. Make a well in the center. Crack the eggs into the well and beat lightly with a fork to combine the yolk and white. Gradually pull some flour into the eggs mixing as you go. Once the dough starts to form and the egg is mixing in, knead the dough to form a ball. The dough should be a bit sticky but not wet. If your dough is too dry, add water, one tablespoon at a time. Once the dough comes together, knead it for 4 to 5 minutes. Cover the dough with plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

While the dough is resting, you can make your filling. You can opt for a simple ricotta cheese filling, but I like to get creative. This year, we made two types: chicken sausage and ricotta. For a vegetarian option, we used broccoli rabe with sautéed greens and ricotta.

Chicken Sausage Ravioli Filling
Yields enough for 50 ravioli (5 ravioli per serving)
15 ounces part skim ricotta cheese (I use an organic variety)

8 ounces raw chicken sausage (I used a Tuscan pepper chicken sausage from Whole Foods)

2 tablespoon fresh basil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Remove chicken sausage from casing. Heat a small sauté pan on medium-high heat. Add the chicken sausage to pan and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, chopping it up as you go. Once the chicken sausage is cooked through, remove it from the pan and cool.

Once cooled, place the meat in a food processor along with the ricotta cheese and basil . Pulse to combine. Season with salt and pepper. When preparing the ravioli, you can decrease the amount sodium by using a raw chicken sausage and a low-sodium pasta sauce (or making your own).

Nutrition Info (includes 1/2 cup plain marinara sauce):

Calories: 347; Fat: 10 grams; Protein: 16 grams; Carbohydrates: 44.6 grams; 10 g fat, 3.81 g sat fat, 148 mg chol, 667 mg sodium, 2.6 g fiber

Broccoli Rabe Ravioli Filling
Yields enough for 50 ravioli (5 ravioli per serving)
1 cup broccoli rabe
2 cups greens (kale, escarole, spinach or combination), chopped
3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
15 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cut off and discard 1 inch from stem ends of broccoli rabe. Cook broccoli rabe, uncovered, in 4 cups of salted water for about 3 minutes (just until tender). Remove the broccoli rabe from the water and place in a large bowl of ice and cold water to stop the cooking process. Once cool, drain well in a colander.

Heat oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add greens and garlic. Cook 3 to 4 minutes until wilted. Add broccoli rabe and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes to heat through. Remove from heat and cool.

Once vegetable mixture is cool, add to food processor with ricotta cheese. Pulse to puree. Season with salt and pepper.

Nutrition Info (includes 1/2 cup plain marinara sauce):

Calories: 299; Fat: 8.5 grams; Saturated Fat: 3.1 grams; Protein: 14.6 grams; Carbohydrates: 42 grams; Cholesterol: 130 milligrams; Sodium: 459 milligrams; Fiber: 3.19 grams

Preparing the Ravioli

Now that you've made your filling, you can go back to the pasta making. Remove dough from refrigerator and cut it into four equal portions (keep the unused dough covered).

We use a pasta machine to make the prep easier. Roll the dough out or run it through a pasta machine, starting at the highest (thickest) setting. After each turn through the machine, flour your pasta sheet a bit and adjust the setting smaller. My pasta machine goes from 1 to 6 -- with 6 being the thinnest. I stop at 4 for ravioli.

Lay the rolled sheet out on a floured counter space. Add about 1 tablespoon of your mixture of choice to the lower half of the pasta sheet, separating them by about 3/4 of an inch. Fold the top half of the pasta sheet down to cover the filling. Using a pasta cutter or knife, cut out the individual ravioli into squares. If you use a knife, you will need to seal and finish the ravioli with a fork.

Cooking the Ravioli

To cook the pasta, drop them gently into a large pot of boiling, salted water. When the ravioli is cooked, it will rise to the surface (3 to 5 minutes). Remove using a slotted spoon or drain in a colander. Serve with a rich, simple, pasta sauce.

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