Last summer, I purchased a pasta roller and set out to make ravioli filled with freshly pureed farmers' market produce. They turned out a little thick and chewy, but I was still pleased at my effort. But when I went to Al Di La a few days later for one of their much-loved filled pasta dishes, I wondered: how do they get their pasta to be so delicate, with the vibrant color of the filling peeking through?
Fresh pasta is made from a few simple ingredients, using a straightforward method. But getting it just right requires some coaching, a lot of practice, and a few good tips. This primer from pasta-making expert, chef Anna Klinger of Al Di La in Park Slope, Brooklyn, can help get you started or put you back on track. After watching her prepare pasta in her kitchen recently, I returned home, tried again, and made my best ravioli so far.
Klinger's love affair with pasta began about 15 years ago when she arrived in Italy to work as a kitchen assistant at a culinary school. The job turned out to be one of those serendipitous life moves.
She perfected her craft of Italian pasta-making there while also meeting her future husband and business partner, Emiliano Coppa (who was the head of the school at the time). A few years later, the couple, newly transplanted in Park Slope, found the neighborhood had "very few decent places to eat." Klinger and Coppa wanted to be able to see each other more than their schedules allowed and, in 1998, they opened Al Di La. Today, the area is filled with notable restaurants, and Al Di La continues to be among the most popular.
One of Al Di La's signature dishes that the crowds keep coming back for is their casunsiei, the beet- and ricotta-filled ravioli. Klinger is sharing her pasta-making secrets and casunsiei recipe for this Technique of the Week.