it’s been very dry where I live. And when I subsist on a largely hyper-local diet, I have a closer connection to the farmers and ranchers who grow and raise my food. The most tangible evidence of dryness is working with the local heritage wheat flour. It is normally a little different to work with compared to over-sifted, over-milled, and chemically treated flour that is treated as such for uniformity of use. Heritage wheat flour is closer to nature. You will feel the terroir, or the unique soil conditions. A wet year will require less moisture in a dough, while a dry year requires more moisture and much more work.
While making pasta dough today for ravioli, a task that normally takes 15 or 20 minutes by hand, took more than double that. And over that time I mused over the hard work that goes into food production. My gentle kneading over time, connected me deeper. Each dry day that the wheat had endured was in my hands. I felt the struggle of the farmer, the plant, the soil that it came from, the region and the state of the world.
Ravioli has become a comfort food in my household. but if I try to buy ravioli that someone else has made, I don’t feel that same connection. That union with the life of the wheat plant, so I make my own. It’s a lot of work, yes, but it freezes beautifully and makes several quick meals afterwards.
- 3 cups sifted red fife flour, measured after sifting (reserve the sifted bran for later for the rolling)
- 1-1/2 cups sifted spelt flour, measured after sifting
- 1 tsp salt
- 5 large eggs
- ⅓ cup cold pressed/extra virgin oil (olive, camelina, canola)
- ¼-3/4 cup water, as needed
- 225g/8 oz aged cheddar cheese, shredded
- 100g/4 oz jalapeño jack cheese, shredded
- 750g/24 oz ricotta cheese
- 3 eggs
- 2 Tbsp dry oregano
- In a large bowl, combine the flours and salt. Make a depression in the middle. Add the eggs and oil. Whisk to combine the liquid ingredients and gradually start to work in the flour until a sticky dough starts to hold together. Turn it out on to a counter with the remaining flour and start to knead. If the dough becomes too dry, add a few tablespoons of water and knead until a soft, smooth dough is achieved. Divide into four balls of dough, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours.
- Take out one ball of dough at a time when you are ready to roll. If you are using a table-mounted pasta roller, set it to the first setting. Roll the dough through the pasta roller. Fold the dough in half and roll again. Set the roller to the next setting and roll to get a thinner sheet. Keep increasing the roller to achieve a thinner sheet until you reach a thickness of ¼cm (1/8"). Lay on a parchment-lined baking sheet dusted with reserved sifted bran. Repeat with remaining dough.
- Add the cheeses, eggs, oregano and salt to a large bowl. Stir to combine. Refrigerate for one hour.
- Lay out a sheet of rolled pasta. Cut into 5cm x 10cm (2" x 4") sheets. Spoon one heaping tablespoon of 3 Cheese Filling on one half of each cut piece of pasta sheet. Fold over the long side of the piece of pasta sheet, leaving about 1cm (1/2") border, pressing out as much of the air as possible before crimping the seams closed. Crimp the edges further with a fork to ensure a complete seal. Lay on the prepared baking sheet and remain with the rest of the pasta and filling. At this point the prepared ravioli can be frozen on the baking sheet as individuals, then bagged for a future meal, or boiled for 3-4 minutes in salted water and served with your favourite tomato sauce. Makes about 80 ravioli.