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June 22, 1995|JOAN DRAKE

You could make ravioli with a pasta machine--if you've got a lot of patience. We gave up.

The directions for our pasta machine attachment showed four easy steps to perfect ravioli. First, we were told to cut a sheet of pasta to the correct width. This was easy to do using a tool the manufacturer provided. Next, we were to place the dough in the attachment and give the crank a quarter turn--no problem. Spooning in the filling was also a snap. It was when we slowly turned the crank that trouble started. The sheet of ravioli in the photo below was the best of about 10 tries. With the others, either the stuffing seeped out the edges or the ravioli just fell apart.

We're willing to admit that we were partly to blame--eventually, we'd figure out the best thickness of dough to use. And maybe another filling would work better than the spinach and ricotta cheese mixture we chose.

Bottom line for us: The machine wasn't worth the trouble. Not when it's so easy to make ravioli by hand.


1. Simply place mounds of filling, evenly spaced, on an evenly trimmed sheet of pasta. (You'll have to turn to the pasta machine to make the pasta sheets; use any basic pasta dough recipe or refer to the Basics column from April 9.) Use a small brush or your fingertip to dampen the dough between the mounds with water.

2. Place the other end of the pasta sheet over the top and press the dough together with your fingers around the mounds of filling.

3. The ravioli is then ready to cut apart with a pastry wheel. Spread the pasta on a lightly floured surface and let it dry about an hour, turning after 30 minutes.

* Like all pasta, ravioli should be cooked in a large pot of boiling water. Add about a dozen of the filled pasta at a time. They will sink at first, then float. Stir gently to keep them from sticking together.

* Once they begin to float, cook until al dente or still slightly firm, about two to three minutes longer. If overcooked, ravioli will fall apart.

* Remove with a slotted spoon, place on a buttered platter and keep warm in a low oven while cooking the remaining ravioli. Serve with a complementary sauce.

* Depending on the filling, ravioli may be served as a first course, main dish or dessert. They can also be deep-fried for an appetizer.

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