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Very confused and about to make ravioli. Question about ingredients and necessary tools.

I had this wonderful pistachio ravioli a few weeks ago at Pastaria in St. Louis. I loved it so much that I want to make it for my family, and I found the recipe online. However, it is a very confusing recipe. (https://www.cbsnews.com...)

First, it calls for 20 egg yolks. Does this seem reasonable?

Second, it says to use the #1 to #7 settings on a pasta maker. I am planning on using a rolling pin. How thick is the #7 setting?

Third, it says to use the blunt side of a 2.75" and 1.5" pastry cutter to make imprints on several sheets of pasta. What is a 2.75" and 1.5" pastry cutter? Is it like a wheel (in which case what is the blunt side), a square cookie cutter, or something else entirely? Can I just use a ruler and a butter knife, followed by a pizza wheel?

Thank you so much for your help! I really appreciate it.

asked by Henry Roseman 7 days ago

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15 answers 379 views
23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar

Nancy is a trusted home cook.

added 6 days ago

1st. Read the recipe through again. Chef Gerard Craft explains that the high # of egg yolks is to make a yellow pasta.
2nd. Look at other recipes for making ravioli, but without a pasta roller. Many suggest about 1/8" thick.
3rd. Pastry cutter is like a cookie cutter, can be many shapes, often round. Can have smooth or fluted edge. Chef's measurements here probably refer to diameter of a round version. (Yes, I know, some ravioli are rectangular.) The top side is blunt, so safe to hold. The suggestion here is to use that non-cutting side to tamp down and seal the two layers of pasta around the filling, but not cut it. You don't have to buy the pastry cutters. But they're pretty and useful, if you make cookies and/or pastry. If not using them, you can tamp down the dough with your fingers, and cut it into filled squares or rectangles using a pastry wheel or a knife.
4th. If this is, by chance, your first time making home-made pasta or ravioli or both, consider making a simpler, recipe with less expensive ingredients once or twice, to get a feel for the dough and the process. I tend to rely on Marcella Hazan dough and then use various fillings, but there are many good and easy recipes out there.
Then, after you've got the feel of the dough and the process, go back to the indulgent and glorious-sounding egg-yolk pasta with pistachio filling.
Good luck and please tell us how your adventures in pasta land turn out!

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23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar

Nancy is a trusted home cook.

added 6 days ago

PS Your recipe also uses the smaller pastry cutter (blunt end) to mark out spaces on the pasta where to put the filling). You could use a small glass for this.
And the pastry cutters also come in square or rectangular shapes. Your choice.

23d08e08 3b57 4e81 adcd 91701fc50809  fb avatar
added 6 days ago

1/8" seems awfully thick- that's #1 on my pasta machine. I'd use #5, which is about 1/32, but if you're rolling by hand you should bee able to judge pretty well what feels right.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar

Nancy is a trusted home cook.

added 6 days ago

Smaug, fair comment. I've seen some recipes that call for 1/16", others that were worried about the pasta tearing or breaking. Also, maybe your machine & the one in the recipe have different metrics. Agree with checking the feel of it if you roll by hand.

3d6b515c 5134 4af9 8148 ce3943eda528  1px white
added 6 days ago

1/8" is definitely too thick. Remember, you are stacking two sheets of pasta to make ravioli.

Two sheets at 1/8" each would make for a ravioli with 1/4" dough thickness.


The ideal thickness is for a ravioli pasta sheet is about 1.5 millimeters. Stack two of those and you are at 3 mm, about 0.12 inches (just a hair under 1/8").

23d08e08 3b57 4e81 adcd 91701fc50809  fb avatar
added 6 days ago

All of this does bring up a point- a lot of recipe writers are very poor at judging sizes, and particularly thicknesses. As a serious- if somewhat lapsed- woodworker, I've spent a lot of time dealing with objects that I knew the exact dimensions of, and believe me, as lot of the stuff you see in recipes is just wrong. There's also a tendency to reduce things to neat looking numbers; when I use guides to roll things to particular thicknesses, I'm a lot more likely to end up using something like 7/32 than, say, 1/8. I once worked out the weight (think Archimedes) of a 2" cube of meat such as is recommended in so many stew recipes- don't remember, now, but it was something like 1/4 pound.

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added 6 days ago

Following up Smaug's observations about poor measurements in recipes, it should be pointed out that recipes are not gospel.

Eggs differ in size and water content, flours react differently based on the moisture content, how recently the wheat was harvested, there are all manners of variations and of course, there's a lot of personal preference involved.

Often, it is better to use common sense than follow recipe instructions blindly.

This is a great example of how the Serious Eats articles are vastly superior to 99.5% of American recipes published anywhere (online, in books) and anytime in the past ten years.

They often *tell* you what happens if you veer one direction or another and WHY.

Restaurants are heavy users of recipes because they need to maintain consistent results for A.) cost control, and B.) customer satisfaction.

It doesn't help a restaurant if the raviolis are better on Tuesdays than Fridays because Cook A made them early in the week and Cook B made them later in the week.

There are often good reasons to follow recipes but there are often good reasons to not follow recipes. Knowing when to do what is wisdom gained through experience.

Wisdom isn't something that you can download from the Internet or bookmark in your web browser.

If one doesn't have the deep experience of having cooked tens of thousands of hours, one should be more judicious about which recipes/sets of instructions to follow.

If one has made ravioli many times before, you probably don't need to measure how thick the dough is. You'll simply know, "This is the right thickness" without pulling out a ruler.

Sure, the proper measurement is quantifiable and might be helpful to a novice, but the measurement must be correct to be useful. This is when well-researched articles like those found at Serious Eats clearly indicate that some thought and care has gone into taking measurements in a scientific, methodical way, not some haphazard guesstimate.

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added 6 days ago

Or, If you really liked the filling and are intimidated by the pasta, use wonton or shao mai wrappers instead as a shortcut.

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3d6b515c 5134 4af9 8148 ce3943eda528  1px white
added 6 days ago

Your confusion is understandable as A.) it appears you have never made fresh pasta before, and B.) you have chosen a poorly written recipe to follow for your very ambitious project.

(stands on soapbox)

The hyperlinked recipe is the epitome of all that is retarded about contemporary recipe writing in the USA. It is 100% text (the one gratuitous image is actually a still frame from the accompanying video). Worse, the imagery doesn't match what is described in the text (more later on that).

In an era where decent, illustrative, and helpful food photography is free, this all-text recipe is a complete atrocity. And this isn't unique to this recipe, it happens in most American food websites (including this one), foodie blogs, etc. The modern USA recipe modus operandii is to offer very concise instructions with zero imagery and worse, no reasoning as to why things are done, what options are available, and what happens when you do things a different way. There are a few exceptions.

Curiously, some other cultures have figured this out. The Japanese publish fabulous food magazines replete with color photos for every single step. If you can translate the ingredient list, you can basically figure out how to make the dish.

Now go to your bookshelf, grab a cookbook with an all-text recipe for puff pastry dough and compare. It will be unbelievably obtuse.

We'll go to a ravioli recipe that has helpful imagery as evidence of how moronic the CBS News recipe really is.

(steps off soapbox)

Now let's address some of your topics.

Pastry cutters:

This is a set of round pastry cutters:


They make fluted ones as well.

If you look at the rollover images, you can see the blunt edge. The CBS recipe instructs you to use the blunt edge of the large cutter to define the intended target location.

The problem with the CBS recipe and particularly the accompanying video is that the chef has served square ravioli, not round ones. That's quicker to assemble (important in a restaurant kitchen) and creates less waste at the expense of aesthetics.

Strike one against the CBS recipe: the written instructions don't match what is displayed which causes confusion.

Pasta machine:

The typical Italian hand-crank pasta machine has eight thickness settings, with #7 being the second to the thinnest. Here's where the recipe fails yet again. They could have include one sentence about how thick to roll the pasta if you are doing it manually.

Setting #7 is a thickness of just under 1/16" or 1.5 millimeters. Remember, for ravioli, you are stacking two sheets of pasta dough so you are getting twice the thickness of the individual sheet.

Too thin and you won't have the right filling/pasta ratio. It may also be harder to handle and may end up tearing or splitting during cooking.

Too thick and you'll have a less enjoyable ravioli as you'll be biting into a fat slice of dough.

Pasta machines provide consistent results. Sure, you can probably roll out pasta to 1.5 millimeters. How would one measure? If I had to do this, I’d take the rolled out sheet, fold it over twice so there are four layers of pasta, then measure: it should be 6 millimeters thick.

Is your hand-rolled sheet even across the entire length and width? Can you do it for seven other sheets? Getting that type of manual consistency usually takes years of practice. Hats off if you have that ability today.


Pasta can be made with or without eggs and the amount of eggs (whole, yolks, whites) will affect the end result. The more yolks you put in a given amount of flour will result in a more yellow and eggier pasta.

I happen to have my own preferences as to how many eggs I get in my pasta dough, sometimes more, sometimes less. One recipe I've consulted recommends 2 whole eggs and 4 yolks per 10 ounces of flour (approximately 2 cups). That's a little eggier than I like myself, so often I do 4 whole eggs.

The CBS recipe lists 20 yolks for 2-3 cups of flour. That is a heck of a lot of egg yolks (and consequently fat) in a pasta dough, and one that will be harder to manipulate and handle than a dough that has more water content.

Note that the CBS recipe comes from a restaurant kitchen, so invariably they are using large eggs. If you are using extra large or jumbo eggs, you will need to take that into consideration.

A more methodical approach would be to just make plain pasta dough (forgetting the ravioli thing for now) and just concentrate on making really great pasta with an egg content that fits your taste buds.

This article from Serious Eats is one that I have consulted:


Note the sheer number of illustrative images and the text is replete with information about alternatives, both good things and bad things that happen when you change things and WHY THIS HAPPENS.

The CBS recipe was written for restaurant cooks who get to see it being made every day, the quantities scaled down for a home cook.


I don't see the filling of the CBS recipe as being extravagantly expensive. Sure pistachios are more expensive than peanuts, and mascarpone is more expensive than cream cheese, but these are small quantities and are relatively cheap compared to ingredients like lobster, crab, foie gras, truffles, etc. (all of which can make it inside ravioli filling).

So what did this chef do? He ignored his own instructions, laid out a sheet of pasta about 4.5-5 inches wide, plopped two rows of filling about 4.5-5 inches apart, egg washed the exposed dough, then laid a separate sheet on top. He then cut the raviolis into 2-2.5" squares. Very efficient, very little waste, maximum use of pasta dough.

Okay, here's the Serious Eats article on ravioli making:


Again, note the sheer number of illustrative imagery, along with instructs for multiple methods of making the raviolis (with a mold, manually with two sheets, manually with the foldover method).

Can one make great pasta following the CBS recipe's instructions? Absolutely. Do you need to know what you are doing in the kitchen? Yes, you do. Again, the CBS recipe was written by a professional for other professionals. That's fine, that's how cookbooks were written up until the late 19th century.

Today, publishing that type of recipe to an audience of home cooks, many of whom will undoubtedly have little experience is short sighted.

Photos are free on the Internet. Post as many as makes sense.

There are very few American food sites like Serious Eats who have figured this out.

Could you be successful making the CBS recipe? We don't know your level of kitchen skills, the amount of patience you will have, your dexterity in the assembly.

My suggestion to you would be to focus on making the dough, starting with the basic Serious Eats recipe:


that is linked from the in-depth article. That will give you a baseline. And guess what? You may want more eggs or less, but at least you can see with your own eyes what changing quantities will do to the final product.

If you really want to make the raviolis, I suggest you use the foldover method. Unless you can get all of your pasta sheets to very similar widths, you’ll be losing more dough if you use the two sheet method as there will be significant overlap.

Anyhow, best of luck.

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23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added 6 days ago

Thank you to everyone who answered! I could not have done this without your help. For those of you who guessed, this was my first time making pasta of any kind, and by far the most difficult recipe I have ever attempted. It was also my first time blanching greens and browning butter. I decided to just go for it, taking everyone's suggestions into account. I also called the restaurant when I went back and looked at the menu and saw that it called for mint, but there is no mint in the recipe.

Here's what I did:

The pistachio filling was very easy to make. No sweat there, just be warned that it is not visually appealing.

The dough was a bit trickier. The 20 egg yolks were just right with about 2 1/4 cups of flour, the last 1/4 cup added 1 Tbsp at a time. It took about 15 minutes to knead but was indeed very smooth. I had no problems with it sticking - I only had to use the tiniest bit of flour.

Rolling the dough was interesting. I basically just rolled it as thin as I could, and then a bit thinner. It wasn't terribly difficult to keep it consistently thin, and I could just lift the dough and run it through my fingers. By the end, I could see my hand through the rolled out dough.

I decided to use a ruler, a pizza wheel, and a knife to cut the dough. It would've been a lot faster to use a cookie cutter (and I definitely would in the future), but I couldn't find one that was 2.75", and I wanted to be as close to what I ate in the restaurant as possible. I cut the first sheet very carefully with the ruler, then used those squares (they looked just like very thin kraft singles) as templates for the next sheets.

Filling and sealing was very simple. Only one cookie cutter is necessary, I used my fingers to push the air out and seal them. It was very intuitive how much filling to put in, and very easy to just press together and seal.

The browned butter sauce was a bit tricky. I called the restaurant and learned that there is supposed to be a bit of mint in it, so I went outside and picked a bit. Not sure exactly how much. I then chopped it and threw it into the butter with an extra 1/2 cup of pistachios. Be careful when adding the lemon juice. I did it when the butter was still hot, so it splattered all over my entire kitchen. No fun. I then let it cool down and re-added it before heating it back up.

Do not put cacao nibs on top. The restaurant said that this was a typo.

The final product (I tried to attach a picture but the website wouldn't let me, I'll try again in a few minutes as a response to this post) was very tasty, nearly like the restaurant. All in, it took me about 6 hours to make, but wouldn't have been nearly as time-consuming with a pasta roller. If I had a pasta roller, I would absolutely make this again.

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23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar

Nancy is a trusted home cook.

added 5 days ago

Henry - great job! Keep on with new pasta dishes!

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added 6 days ago

Here is the picture:

417440d0 3624 4a56 b74d 526e61f52b67  ravioli

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48dd002c 4c45 4b84 8006 ac8614d467cd  dsc00859 2

Lisanne is a trusted home cook.

added 6 days ago

Very impressive! Very "can do"! Hats off!

23d08e08 3b57 4e81 adcd 91701fc50809  fb avatar
added 5 days ago

Everybody loves a happy ending, great job on what could be a pretty intimidating project for a beginner. Highly recommend getting a pasta machine; not that expensive- you absolutely don't need an electric machine or a lot of cutters- and you apparently care enough about pasta to justify it.

3d6b515c 5134 4af9 8148 ce3943eda528  1px white
added 5 days ago

Wonderful! Looks like a successful project and you learned a lot from this experience.

I would like to congratulate you on something else that you did that makes you stand out.

You actually followed up with your results.

Of the people who register here and post a question on the same day, probably 99% of them never follow up with their results (what worked, what didn't). Instead of providing valuable insight and giving information back to the community, it's just pure radio silence.

Heck, 90% of repeat posters (and even Food52 staffers) do not follow up with their results after having received much advice.

And yes, there are those who thank profusely, but again do not bother to reveal what worked.

That makes you a relatively unusual new community member, the type this place needs more of.

Anyhow, we look forward to hearing from you about future kitchen projects!

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