A Birthday Dinner to Die For

On the night of my 25th birthday, I was savoring ricotta ravioli made with fresh pasta and coated with a sweet sage and brown butter sauce with mushrooms. I ate salty marinated olives and enjoyed a salad made with crisp, local apples and lettuce, and feta cheese. I sipped a glass of a perfect Oregon red wine on the side. And I did it all at my kitchen table.

For special occasions, Dave and I always try to make something really special (we also go out sometimes – frequently we’ll have multi-day celebrations and do both). When you can make a dinner like this at home and spend quality time with the one you love making it together, it’s hard to turn down.

Here are the ingredients we used. For the ravioli:

  • About a cup of ricotta
  • A loose 1/2-3/4 cup of mozzarella
  • Garlic, salt and pepper
  • Fresh pasta (recipe to follow)
  • 4-5 white mushrooms
  • Fresh sage leaves
  • 4-5 tablespoons butter

For fresh pasta for two:

  • 1.5 cups of flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • A few tablespoons of water (I’ll explain)

For the salad:

  • Red lettuce
  • Feta
  • One local apple
  • Blue cheese dressing

We purchased the olives and the garlic bread to go along with.

To make fresh pasta, put your flour in a hill shape on a clean work surface or in a bowl and make a large well in the middle. Mix the wet ingredients separately and pour them slooowly into the well, and then use your fingers to mix the wet with the dry a little bit at a time. I would start with 2 tablespoons of water in the wet mixture, but it is quite likely that you’ll need more. Like most doughs, what you’re looking for is a mixture that’s not sticky but also not dry – Play-Doh style. Once you’ve created a good dough, let it rest for an hour.

Using a pasta roller (or a rolling pin), roll out your dough to a 1/16th of an inch thickness. Then plan the size and shape of your raviolis – we went with about a 2.5-inch square with ours, and so to plan for the top and bottom half of the raviolis, we used 2.5 x 5 inch rectangles of dough. Mix the filling ingredients together and spoon about a tablespoon onto one side of your rectangle.

Then dip your fingers in water and use them to paint along the edges of the ravioli – the water will seal them together. Cut the ravioli apart.

Fold over the top half of the dough and use your fingers to get all of the water out of the ravioli. Press the edges together to help the water glue them shut, and then go over them once more with a fork to really seal them up.

Drop the ravioli in a large saucepan of boiling water. You can cook more than one ravioli at a time, but drop them into the pan one at a time so they don’t stick together. Do 2-3 at a time. It will not take more than a minute or so for the dough to cook into pasta.

When they’re done, they will float to the top. Set aside the ones that are finished¬† on the plates they’ll be served on, and work in batches to cook all of the pasta. In the meantime, sautee mushrooms in a little bit of oil, and when they are done, set them aside too.

It’s time to make the brown butter sauce – a sweet, delicious sauce that goes well with¬† pumpkins, squash, cheese – you name it. In that same skillet, melt the butter and reduce the heat to medium low.

The water will start to cook out of the butter and the butter will start to brown. Add in your sage (chopped finely) and the cooked mushrooms while the butter continues to brown (but don’t let it burn!)

Serve on top of your finished ravioli.

This has to be one of my favorite meals of all time. Big thanks go to Dave, who did a lot of the work and made it an amazing birthday.

1 Comment »

  1. I love your step by step directions. You’ve inspired me to make fresh pasta!

    Comment by Kelly Keys — October 11, 2011 @ 2:54 pm

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