So..... I thought of a really great shortcut to making the meat-stuffed fried ravioli that my kids like so much at the Italian restaurants. We had a whole bunch of kiddos for the test group of this experiment. We made our own pasta - because the kids get a kick out of it (and you can make it really inexpensively); but I think if you REALLY wanted to cut some time from this, you could use the pre-made wonton wrappers that you can find in the produce section of most supermarkets.
The shortcut for the filling - we cut pre-made Italian style meatballs in half (the 1/2 ounce size) and used those to fill the pasta. It worked like a dream!
- Italian style meatballs
- eggs + milk for an egg wash
- Italian style breadcrumbs
- oil for frying
- your favorite warm marinara for dipping
- garnishes - chopped parsley, fresh grated Parmesan
On your board surface, mix together the 2 cups of flour and salt. Make a well in the center.
|1/2 tsp table salt|
Add the wet ingredients a bit at a time, to the well in the center and start kneading! If you need more flour, you'll know it. It seems to be dependent upon the type of flour, the weather, etc.
You need to knead about 10 minutes. You will see and feel it getting smoother and more silky. Sprinkle kneading surface with flour before you begin. You can see the difference in the pasta from the photo on the left when we began, to the one on the right.
I am leaving this photo in here to show how long Lovely Lily has been helping me out with pasta making. She was 2 1/2 years old in the bottom photo. She used to help me out. Now, she pretty much just takes over. :)
|The flour sprinkle fairy|
After the kneading, pop the dough into a ziptop bag and let it rest about 10-15 minutes. This will give you time to do other stuff.... tend to the meatballs, etc.
Then separate the dough (into three or four pieces) and run it through a pasta machine starting on the widest setting. Run it through each setting once or twice until it's silky, then continually change the settings.
|Rolling out the pasta sheets (good looking kitchen crew, huh?)|
For the filling, I browned some Italian style (1/2 ounce) meatballs (Rosina brand frozen meatballs are my kids' favorite brand) in a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, then added a can (yep!) of pasta sauce. If you have homemade meatballs, all the better. But this recipe was about marrying convenience with novelty. And the frozen meatballs are definitely convenient!
For this sauce, we went with the Hunt's Garlic and Herb Pasta Sauce - only $1.00 for a large can! To the sauce, I added some of my own seasoning, as I always like to make it my own even when I'm using something premade: salt, pepper, oregano, Italian seasoning, basil, a bit of sugar to cut the acid.
After warming the meatballs through we cut them in half. Each half would become the filling to a ravioli. Set out one sheet of pasta. Add the meatballs, cut side up. I honestly don't think you could get an easier filling than this!
|The simmering meatballs|
|Filling the ravioli.... Little pillows of Italian goodness.|
Be careful to press out all the air in the ravioli - or they may burst during the cooking.
|Ready for the breading station.|
Wow.... this recipe goes a LONG way! It made 4 dozen ravioli! I let them dry a while on parchment paper. The parchment keeps them from sticking. After the tops "dried," I flipped them over to let the bottoms dry.
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Here are some bonus recipe for you:
Oreo Cream Crunch Layer Dessert
Meatball Stuffed Buns
In mixing bowl stir together 2 cups flour and salt. Make a well in center. Combine eggs, water and olive oil. Add to flour. Mix well. Sprinkle kneading surface with flour. Knead until dough is smooth, 8 to 10 minutes. Cover and let rest 10 minutes.
Then separate the dough (into three or four pieces) and run it through a pasta machine starting on the widest setting. Run it through each setting once or twice until it's silky, then continually change the settings. You many need to cut the dough again with scissors if it gets too long. The thinnest setting I use is the second to smallest one... if it's TOO thin, it won't hold up for a filling.
For the filling, I browned some Italian style (1/2 ounce) meatballs in a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, then added a can of pasta sauce. To the sauce, I added some of my own seasoning, as I always like to make it my own even when I'm using something premade: salt, pepper, oregano, Italian seasoning, basil, a bit of sugar to cut the acid. After warming the meatballs through we cut them in half. Each half would become the filling to a ravioli.
You may like to wet the edges of the pasta before adding the second layer so that it will stick together better if this is an issue for you. Be careful to press out all the air in the ravioli - or they may burst during the cooking. The ravioli can be cooked immediately or frozen in a zip-top bag until needed.
For this dish, we breaded them (1st: egg wash of egg yolks and water, then 2nd: Italian breadcrumbs), fried them until golden brown and floating, and served them with marinara sauce and freshly grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese. They sure didn't last long!