Pasta Begets Pasta (sort of)

When things get slow at the bookstore, we amuse ourselves with reading about food things like the butter knife that conducts body heat to warm cold butter, or re-reading the award-winning KY Jelly Is My New Jam (for the gazillionth time), or we just ponder Will It Waffle?

The other day, Jane produced this recipe from Saveur – using overcooked, pureed pasta to made pasta dough for raviolis. And our collective question was . . . why? I mean, we’ll do all sorts of weird food stuff just to try it out, but how is this easier or better than making basic pasta dough for your ravioli? Is there a reason behind it? Or is it all meaningless?

The answer, like life, is complicated. (It is also in italics at the end of this post if you want to skip to the conclusion).

I volunteered to try out the recipe to answer the burning question. And by the way, homemade raviolis are a big pain in the butt to make, so I was being very generous to volunteer. Luckily, things went so far astray en route to raviolis that it never came to that.

1 cup ricotta, 1 cup cooked & drained spinach, garlic, lemon zest, salt, pepper, 2 eggs. A ravioli filling (that ended up not being a ravioli filling)

1 cup ricotta, 1 cup cooked & drained spinach, garlic, lemon zest, salt, pepper, 2 eggs. A ravioli filling (that ended up not being a ravioli filling)

Here is the recipe with my notes alongside:

1. Cook pasta until mushy. Let cool; drain. Add salt and purée in a food processor or mix by hand until it forms a sticky dough. Don’t use fancy pasta! Mushy is really mushy! Get that pasta super-cooled down, not just “no longer hot”

Pasta that cooked for 20 minutes and still isn't mushy enough

Pasta that cooked for 20 minutes and still isn’t mushy enough

2. Divide dough in half; flatten between sheets of greased parchment paper and chill. Roll dough until ⅙″ thick. I’m voting chill it before any parchment paper gets involved and see if it gets less sticky because Bad Things happened during the flattening.

A sticky mess of congealed pasta. Very sticky mess, very sticky.

A sticky mess of congealed pasta. Very sticky mess, very sticky.

3. Cut out circles with a round cutter. Place 1 slice mozzarella and 2 tbsp. filling over each circle; fold in half and pinch edges. They suggest deep frying, I’d upgrade that to “this is for deep frying”

I dumped the whole mess into a skillet with the filling and invented Italian Spaetzle

I dumped the whole mess into a skillet with the filling and invented Italian Spaetzle

Alternate 3. Dump the clumps of pureed pasta, plus the ravioli filling, into a skillet to cook up, add some cayenne to make it red, green, and white and ta da! You’ve invented Italian Spaetzle.

The spaetzle I’ll describe as. . . um, “toothsome.” A very small bowlful with a fried egg on top pretty much lasted me from breakfast through the next seven hours (unheard of in my personal appetite world). I’ll point out that mashed up starches are a primary part of many plates so it’s not like that was a total loss. I’d clock it at somewhere between mashed potatoes and mochi.

The Answer: Even if you do this right, it still is going to be more difficult than and more expensive than making normal pasta dough. However, if you”re interested in fried ravioli, the suggested recipe that goes with this one, I bet this produces a really tasty alternative, with a crispy crust and tender interior. Ditto for baked raviolis. I’ll try it again when my patience is restored. In the meantime, here is a guide to making fresh pasta from Serious Eats.

I did bring some of the resulting dish (which will probably last a week) to the office in the hopes of a Sandwich Monday moment. Turns out, your coworkers need to be willing to eat the experimental food before that happens. But I will go on to try “food hacks” another day. Not today, not tomorrow, but sometime when I’m bored.

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