When you’ve got a pro at the helm, cooking with friends shines in all its glory. And when it’s Lou Palma at the helm, the sunshine can be blinding it’s so glorious. Now, Debbie and I are no amateurs when it comes to making ravioli. We’ve got it down pretty darn pat when it’s just the two of us in a kitchen, cranking dough and filling those babies. But add Lou to the mix and it’s a whole new level of professionalism and good times.
First off, he has every gadget you can imagine to make the ravioli perfect. If there wasn’t a tool that existed, Lou made one. There’s the beautiful wood slab that gets placed on the countertop and some handcrafted wooden gadgets to press the creases of the dough so that there’s no oozing effect. Then there’s his dough. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t simulate Lou’s dough. Maybe it’s his water, or he has a trick, but it’s smooth and always just the right consistency “never too wet or too dry” just right Goldilock’s! Finally, when you’re cooking with Lou there’s the enjoyment factor. He makes you laugh and smile more than anyone else adding a level of joy to cooking with friends.
I made the fillings, he made the dough and we worked for a compact two hours making dozens of ravioli. But no cooking date is complete until you’ve elegantly sampled everything and I must add the word elegantly. We savored and dined like we’re in a five star Italian restaurant in Lou’s kitchen enjoying the finest meal you can imagine. It was a five course tasting menu, beginning with golden beet, moving onto to a zesty and chunky corn, to a silly smooth corn, hearty meat and cheese and culminating with a lobster filling. With some melted butter, oil, a snip of fresh sage and a sprinkling of fresh poppy seeds, our mouths exploded with heavenly flavors.
Not such a shabby end to our labors in the kitchen!
It’s a tough choice which recipe to share but since golden beets are plentiful and so is corn at the farmers’ markets right now, I’ll give you those two! And whether you use wonton wrappers as your dough, make your own (I’ve included Lou’s recipe) or convince your Lou to make it for you, you can’t go wrong with either of these fillings!
Beet Ravioli Filling
3 large golden beets, roasted and skins removed
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Using a course metal grater, grate the beets and transfer to a bowl. Mash with a fork and blend in the cheese while seasoning with salt and pepper.
Sweet and Simple Corn Ravioli Filling
5 ears of summer sweet corn, blanched and kernels removed
2/3 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
Place corn kernels in a high powered blender such as the Vitamix. Puree for about a minute until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the ricotta cheese, salt and pepper.
Lou’s Pasta Dough Recipe
6 cups all-purpose flour
4 eggs, mixed
6 ounces water
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 teaspoons salt
Using a mixer fitted with the hook attachment, mix eggs into flour with salt and olive oil, gradually adding the water until the dough comes together. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest for at least a half hour before using.