I’ve been cooking up a storm lately, since there is so much good stuff in my garden to be harvested and eaten. I always plant way too much Swiss chard, so I have to get creative with how to use it up. My favorite way to cook most types of greens is to braise them. Homemade pasta is delicious made with farm fresh eggs. Ravioli freezes well. That said, my favorite go-to recipe for preserving my abundant Swiss chard harvest is Swiss chard ravioli!
My pasta maker, that Matt bought me, only gets used a couple of times a year, but I think he got it for around $40, so it’s worth having. It came with a pretty useful instruction book with recipes for making the dough and how to roll it out. The recipe I usually use for the dough comes from Epicurious. I like this recipe because I have a food processor, and I’m lazy, and this recipe makes it so easy and quick. Pasta dough can be made with just a mixing bowl and a fork though, it just takes a little more elbow grease.
SWISS CHARD RAVIOLI
Swiss chard, an average sized colander full or a couple of large bunches from the store (it cooks down a lot), stems and ribs discarded and chopped into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup pine nuts, chopped coarsely
3-5 cloves of garlic, depending on how much garlic you like (I tend to go on the heavy side), chopped fine
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 8 oz. container of crumbled goat cheese
Sauté garlic and pine nuts in a large skillet, over medium heat, until fragrant and pine nuts are light brown in color. Over medium-high heat, add Swiss chard in batches. As the Swiss chard wilts and cooks down a bit, add more. Continue until all the Swiss chard is added. Season with salt and pepper. Cook covered, until desired consistency, stirring occasionally. I like to braise just past when it is wilted, when it is a little more tender. Remove from heat. Cool. Add goat cheese and stir. This filling can be chilled in the fridge while the dough is being rolled out.
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon of water
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Add all the ingredients to a food processor and mix until the dough just starts to form into a ball. Don’t worry if the dough seems a little dry. It will combine more as you knead it and as it goes through the rollers of the pasta machine. Remove it from the food processor and, on a lightly floured surface, knead it a few times. Cut it into 4 pieces and then cover each piece with plastic wrap.
Flatten your first piece of dough into a rectangle. Dust with flour, so it won’t stick to the rollers. Feed through pasta machine at its highest setting. Fold in half and feed through again at same setting. Dust with flour any time it seems like it might stick to the rollers. Do this a few times until the dough looks nice and combined and then turn the dial on the pasta machine to next lowest setting. Run through once. Turn the dial to the next lowest setting. Run through again. Again, dust with flour as needed or, to be on the safe side, between every turn. My machine goes to a 1, but I usually only roll my pasta sheets for ravioli out to a 2 or 3. If you roll your pasta out too thin, you risk it coming apart while folding or boiling. Continue for each section of dough.
Along half of your rolled out pasta sheet, place a teaspoonful of filling about an inch apart. I fill a measuring cup or bowl with water for wetting down the brush. Dip the brush in the water and then lightly brush around the filling, before folding over the pasta, to enclose the filling. The water will help bind the upper and lower layers and keep the raviolis sealed. Fold the dough lengthwise in half. Press lightly around each mound to seal in the filling.
Use a fluted pastry wheel to cut the ravioli apart, then lay the ravioli on a towel lined baking dish.
The ravioli can be cooked right away or placed in the freezer. Once frozen they can be put in a gallon ziplock bag for longer term freezer storage. Regardless of whether you are eating them now or later, to cook the ravioli, just boil some water, add a little olive oil to the water and cook the ravioli until they float, about 3-4 minutes if fresh and a little longer if frozen. If the ravioli start to fall apart, you have cooked them too long. This recipe usually makes about 40 raviolis, so I usually eat some right away and save some for later.
I like to top my ravioli with a simple marinara sauce (so as not to drown out the flavor) garnished with fresh basil and served with a garden salad and maybe some fresh baked bread.This meal takes a bit of work and some time, but I only do this once or twice a year, so it is always a special occasion and marks the height of Summer for me. I think it might be my perfect meal!