This is THE BEST gluten free ravioli you will ever have, or even just ravioli in general! Sure it's easy to use already pre-made gluten free pasta or flour, but I PROMISE it will not taste as good.
My husband, who loves pasta more than anything, could not tell the difference and was shocked when I told him the dough was made with brown rice flour. The ravioli came out perfectly al dente, the filling was super flavorful with just the right kick and the sauce tasted like an Italian grandmother had spent all day in the kitchen.
I created this dish a while ago for my sister, who can’t eat any gluten but adores Italian food. Now, she requests it every time she’s in town. The marinara sauce is the way I’ve been making it for over a decade. Growing up in Italy I learned how to make the real deal and there are a few musts for me when it comes to authentic Italian tomato sauce: using authentic Italian San Marzano tomatoes and adding anchovies to the flavor base. Anchovies give the sauce added depth and provide the salt as well. If you can’t find Italian tomatoes, just use regular canned tomatoes. And if you don’t have anchovies, just add some salt to taste at the end.
I like to use spicy Italian sausage, but if you don’t like spicy foods, just use sweet Italian sausage. You could also skip the meat and just use the cheese mixture, which would make the ravioli gluten free and vegetarian.
But whatever you do, don’t skip the nutmeg… it’s the secret ingredient that makes the filling extra special.
And just for fun, don’t tell your guests it’s gluten free… I bet they won’t even notice ;)
Step 1: GATHER THE INGREDIENTS:
For the Tomato Sauce:
- 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion (or half a medium)
- 1 carrot
- 2 to 4 garlic cloves (depending on size) or about 2 tbs once chopped
- 1/4 cup tomato paste (preferably Italian)
- pinch of hot pepper flakes
- 1 tsp dry oregano
- 2 anchovies (optional), chopped
- 28 oz can (or 2 small cans) whole, peeled tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
- Some chopped Italian Parsley for garnish (optional)
For the Filling:
- 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 2 or 3 hot or sweet Italian sausages (about 5 or 6 oz)
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 cup fresh spinach
- 1 tbs fresh sage or 1/4 tsp dry sage
- 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
For the Gluten Free Dough:
- 1 and 1/2 cups brown rice flour (and a little extra for dusting)
- 1/2 cup tapioca starch
- 1 tsp Xanthan gum (find it in the baking section, or order online from Bob Mill)
- 4 to 5 eggs (4 if very large)
- 2 tbs kosher salt or 1 and 1/2 tbs regular salt (for pasta water)
A pasta maker / roller
Immersion blender, or regular blender
Step 2: Make the Tomato Sauce
Start with the sauce, so it can simmer for a long time while you prepare the ravioli.
Chop the onion, garlic and carrot.
The chop does not have to be perfect (since you will puree everything at the end) but try to get the pieces similar in size, so they cook evenly.
To chop carrots, just cut them into thin strips and then chop the strips.
Step 3: Build the Flavor Base
Add olive oil to a medium sized sauce pan, then immediately add the chopped vegetables. Turn the heat to medium low (or medium, depending on your stove) and cook until onion is translucent and soft, about 7 minutes. You do NOT want to burn the onion or garlic, so if If you hear any sizzling, or if onion starts to brown, then lower the heat.
Add a pinch of hot pepper flakes, oregano, the anchovies (if using) and the tomato paste. Cook, mixing everything, for a minute or two.
Step 4: Add Tomatoes and Simmer the Sauce
Add the tomatoes and using a spatula, break them up as much as you can. Again, you will be pureeing, so it doesn't have to be perfect.
Take the can and add a cup of water to it. Swoosh the water around to get any remaining tomatoes clinging to can and add that to the pan too.
Add the bay leaf and bring sauce to a boil.
Turn heat to low, cover with lid leaving a small space and simmer while you make the ravioli. Simmer for at least a half hour, preferably 45 min to an hour.
Check on the sauce about half way, if too much water has evaporated, add a little more. I usually end up adding another 1/2 cup.
Step 5: Add Basil and Blend the Sauce
When sauce is done, add the chopped basil.
Using immersion blender, puree until smooth. Or you can let the sauce cool slightly and transfer to an actual blender. I like to use the immersion because it's less messy.
Step 6: Cook Sausage for Filling:
Remove the sausage from casings and mash.
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat until hot. Add the sausage and brown. Keep breaking up the sausage so it gets cooked in little pieces. Make sure you don't fuss with it too much at the beginning, so it gets a nice brown. That's where the flavor is!!
Once sausage is cooked through, add the spinach and cook until it is wilted.
Transfer mixture to cutting board and give it a chop so the sausage is minced.
Step 7: Mix the Filling:
Place the ricotta, parmesan, egg yolk and sage into a bowl.
Grate the nutmeg (or use pre-grated nutmeg if you must).
Mix everything together. Add the sausage mixture and mix. Set aside while you make the dough.
Step 8: Prepare the Gluten Free Dough:
BOIL THE WATER:
Now is a good time to fill a large pot with water and set it over a burner turned to high. Bring the water to a simmering boil, not rolling. Add the salt to the water.
Mix the brown rice flour, the tapioca starch and the Xantham Gum with a whisk until blended. Make sure you use the Xantham, this is what gives it a pasta like consistency so you can roll it.
Whisk the eggs together. Make a small well in the flours and add the eggs to the flour mixture. Using a wooden spoon (or any spoon) start mixing everything. Keep mixing until you can clump the dough in your hand and it sticks together.
Step 9: Knead the Dough
Turn the dough onto a flat surface and knead for 5 minutes or so, until you feel that it's smooth.
Roll into a log and cut into 4 even pieces.
Step 10: Make the Pasta Sheets
Flatten each piece with the palm of your hand.
Roll each piece through the pasta roller.
Here is where it can get a little tricky, but if you persist and do it right, you will get perfect pasta sheets!
(which you can also turn into fettuccine, or pappardelle. Not spaghetti though, the dough will not hold up well. Or you can make lasagna!)
After rolling it through the first time, it may feel crumbly to you. You just need to fold it in half and re-roll. Keep doing it until you get a nice, even and long piece like in the photos.
Step 11: Add Filling to Dough and Cook Ravioli:
Now for the fun part!!
Place a dollop (about 1 tbs) of the filling on one of the dough strips. Make sure the filling is evenly space and at least an inch and a half apart.
Place another sheet of pasta right on top and using your finger shape the ravioli as shown in photo.
You want to make sure the dough is tightly sealed around the filling.
Then, using an adorable pasta cutter with a zig zag edge (or you can use a pizza cutter) cut each ravioli and also cut of a small portion of the edge to make it look nice.
Carefully drop the ravioli into the water and cook 5 to 6 minutes. Don't over crowd the ravioli, I cook them in 3 batches.
Step 12: Plate the Ravioli and WOW YOUR GUESTS!!!
Spoon some of the sauce on each place.
Top with ravioli, grate some more parmesan cheese and sprinkle some finely chopped parsley on top for some green and freshness.
Add some more sauce on top if you'd like.
Aren't they AMAZING?!??