Impossibly light ravioli (+ Japan)
|March 17, 2011||Posted by ameliaps under any season, Italia, Italian, italy, pasta and grains|
* Note: pardon the mess while I reconstruct my web site. What do you think so far (just hit the banner to see the home page)? Feedback is welcome! *
When catastrophic things happen, like the recent Japan earthquake, our thoughts inevitably go to our ephemeral life, here, now. I think they present a good reminder to be deeply appreciative for being here, for our small or quotidian now, for the little moments that represent life today. (btw, in case you want to help: Save the children; The American Red Cross; Global Giving; Doctors Without Borders; JASG).
These events remind of how transient we are, of the daily moments we give for granted, the ones we spend with our loved ones, especially those who live far away from us. Catastrophe shortens the distance from them, in a virtual correspondence of thoughts. Our connection is bolstered by the feeling of powerlessness that Nature and chance constantly remind us of.
We all float in space, a speck of sand in the middle of an intergalactic desert, at the mercy of the first black hole that comes around. And then there is the realization that this tiny small speck of sand -that is us- is incredibly lucky to be still floating around, a witness to the beauty of the planets and stars around it. Life is miraculous: not the way it ends, but the way it endures. Not the way it’s taken away, but the way it stays. It is tragic that those that are gone are gone, but, just like a star that has died centuries ago and is still visible to us today, light years away, those lives enlighten the ones that are here today and look up at the sky.
Naturally, my thoughts go to my family in Italy. They are far (precisely, 5,088.33 miles away) and, of course, I miss them. We also shared a similar experience with the tragic 1980 earthquake. And as I think of big events, my thoughts gravitate more naturally to our small, unassuming, missed daily connections…like making ravioli with my mother. Now that we are far apart I make these when I need a bite of home.
These ravioli are as delicate as a cloud, a pillow, a speck of dust whirling in space… The dough is so “impossibly light” because of the absence of eggs. The boiling water melts the flour and makes for a silky smooth texture. Once they are cooked, the filling fuses with the dough and the final results is almost like a new unity. Some people don’t even realize they are ravioli and mistake them for a unique gnocchi. Although, I have to say…the ones my mother makes are really special and I have not been able to master them as well as she does. She makes them so small, manages to always keep them whole, and her dough is paper thin, never breaks in the water. I promise myself to spend time with her learning how to perfect them next time I visit her in Italia. Booking my flight now for the summer…
Impossibly light ravioli
2 cups flour
About 1 cups boiling water (see directions)
A pinch of salt
1 Tbsp butter (but lard is traditional…)
1 cup grated Parmesan
½ cup ricotta
8 oz. mozzarella, diced small
Salt and pepper, TT
To finish: a light tomato sauce, more grated Parmesan, and some basil (optional)
Mound the flour and slowly pour the boiling water in the center, mixing with a fork until it half of the flour has absorbed it. Now add the salt and butter and continue mixing, adding more water IF needed until the dough is velvety smooth. Let it stand while you make the filling.
Mix all the filling ingredients together.
Roll the dough out on a floured surface into a thin sheet, with a rolling pin. On one half of the sheet, outline (that is mark but do not score) a few rounds with a cookie cutter of the size you prefer. Spoon some filing in each outlined round and cover with the other half of the dough, pressing the edges with your finger tips, to seal.
Use the same round cutter you used to outline to cut out the ravioli. Place them, one at a time, on a kitchen towel lined tray.
To cook them, drop them in a large pot of salted boiling water (you can place the whole towel in then remove). Boil briefly, until they surface and season with a light tomato sauce, a sprinkle of grated Parmesan and basil, if in season.
If you have any left over dough, you can roll it, and dice it into small gnocchi. They will be soft and fluffly. Ephemeral.