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Kids Cooking Activities: Easy-To-Make Homemade Ravioli 

Want to cut fun dough shapes with your kids but don't want to make cookies? Try this easy ravioli recipe!

Most people think homemade pasta is pretty tricky. When my kids' friends tell their parents that they made ravioli at my house, the parents are always impressed. The truth is, pasta is pretty easy. As long as you're willing to follow the instructions and spend a little bit of extra prep time, you can make incredibly tasty ravioli at home without any special equipment. All you need is a mixing bowl, a rolling pin, and all of the ingredients.

Why Ravioli?

I'd be lying if I said that I didn't have a soft spot in my heart for stuffed pasta. But I'm an adult. Kids often prefer bright cheezy pasta to ravioli squares, no matter how delicious I find them. That's why I try to make sure my kids are involved in the cooking process. Unlike boxed cheesy pasta, they love making ravioli. There are lots of tactile activities that they can perform. They can knead the dough, roll it out, add their favorite fillings, and cut it into shapes.

Stuffed Full Of Choices

There's also the issue of flavor. Ravioli can be filled with anything you want. I'm a fan of butternut squash ravioli with a maple syrup sauce, for example. My kids' favorite right now is what we call "pizza" ravioli, which is stuffed with a bit of pepperoni, mozzarella, and tomato sauce. When they're out at a friend's house and my husband is home, I usually stuff my ravioli with a traditional blend of fresh mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

The Freedom To Have Fun

The point is that you can do whatever you want! By letting your children have fun with various stuffing and pasta shapes, you'll be able to get them involved and interested in the cooking process. This will give you a fun activity you can perform with your kids while teaching them valuable life skills.

Easy Ravioli Recipe:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp olive oil
2 eggs
1.5 tbsp water
pinch salt

1 egg
1 tbsp water

1 cup shredded cheese (any kind)
1 package ricotta (8-16 oz)
1 egg
spices and seasoning (lemon zest, basil, parsley, pepper, etc)

First off, this recipe can get a little bit messy. You'll want to either use an extra large cutting board or wash one of your counters extra well so you can use it as a work surface.
Start by making a small mound with the flour and salt. In a separate container, beat together the oil, eggs, and water. Pour about half of this solution into your flour well and begin to mix it by hand. I recommend that you use both hands to try to keep the well stable while you let your kids do the mixing. Once it's more or less mixed, form your dough into a well, pour in the remaining egg mixture and mix again.

Knead the dough for about ten minutes. Kids are great for this. If things get too sticky, feel free to add a bit of flour. Your goal is a malleable dough that's fairly smooth.
Once you're done kneading, wrap the dough tightly in plastic and throw it in the fridge to rest for about an hour.

You'll want to prepare your filling and your egg wash before you proceed to the next step. To prepare the basic cheese filling above, simply mix all ingredients together in a bowl. You can fill ravioli with pretty much anything you want. Make sure any meats are properly cooked, however, because you won't boil your pasta shapes long enough to cook them. I'd recommend using egg as a binding agent with most fillings. You'll also want egg wash to hold the pasta sheets together, which is simply an egg beaten together with a bit of water.

When your dough is done resting, use a rolling pin or pasta machine to roll it out into thin sheets. The rule I've heard is that your pasta sheets should be about the same thickness as a coin. Pasta machines can make this much easier and more consistent, but there's nothing wrong with getting your hands dirty and having fun rolling out your dough by hand with your kids.

The best way to roll out pasta like this is to break it down into smaller chunks. I'd recommend splitting this recipe up into about two sheets. On a floured work surface, form half the dough into a ball, then use your hand to start to flatten it out. Switch to a rolling pin as it gets thinner. You may find it helpful to flour your rolling pin before you start. Make sure to rotate your dough as you work and vary the direction that you roll the pin from.

When you have two sheets, brush the top of one with a thin layer of egg wash. Drop little balls of filling throughout the sheet periodically, then place the second sheet on top. Starting from the center, gently press out any air pockets.

Now for the fun part: using a knife, cookie cutter, or ravioli stamp, break apart your pasta sheets into the shapes your kids want. Press the edges of each pasta shape firmly in order to seal them.

To cook the ravioli shapes, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the ravioli and boil uncovered until the ravioli float. This takes between 5 and 8 minutes.

Serve with your favorite sauce or simply a drizzle of olive oil with some freshly grated parmesan and Italian herbs. 

Fun Shapes To Keep Kids Happy

My kids love it when we make dinosaur shaped ravioli. They love it so much that they don't complain anymore when I break out the ravioli stamp in order to make more "adult" shapes. Since they get to have fun kneading the dough, rolling out sheets, and choosing their favorite fillings, they love getting involved in the cooking process. The result is that we have fun making a healthy meal that they're happy about eating. It's a great way to spend an evening.

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