Warning: This is nothing like the canned ravioli you might have eaten as a kid. It's so good, it just may remind you of the "O" word. I tend to be a creature of habit and when I find something I really like I don't mix it up and try other variations. I will experiment in the future and share it with you when I do. Homemade ravioli is a bit time consuming, but they freeze really well - so make up a big batch.
Start with fresh pasta sheets. If you don't make it yourself, you might find it in the grocery store. I will dedicate a future post to homemade pasta.
For the filling:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb ground italian sausage (sweet, mild or hot). If it's in the casings, remove it.
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (more or less to taste)
1/2 medium onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
handful fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup shredded cheese (I prefer an 80/10/10 mix of mozzarella/provolone/cheddar)
In a skillet add the olive oil, crushed red pepper and sausage. Brown the sausage, about halfway add the onion. The last minute or so of browning add the garlic. When sausage is cooked through, onion is soft and the wonderful smell of garlic hits your nose turn off the heat. Add the basil, stir and let sit about 5 minutes to cool slightly. Put the mixture in a food processor and add the shredded cheese. Pulse until it's minced.
For the ravioli:
Lay out 2 pasta sheets on parchment paper; you'll need a bottom and top. Using a small scoop (approx. 1-2 teaspoons, but will depend on how large you are making the ravioli) mound the filling in clumps on the bottom sheet of pasta leaving enough space all around to seal the ravioli. Add the top sheet. Seal by using a ravioli stamp or pressing with your fingers all around the filling and then cut with a pizza wheel. Set aside as you continue to make the ravioli until all the filling is gone. Do Not Stack The Ravioli! They will stick together... place them on another sheet of parchment paper. Keep going until you've used all of your pasta or the filling. At this point you can cook, refrigerate or freeze the ravioli.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the ravioli 5-10 at a time, depending on how large your pot is. You don't want to crowd them too much and you don't want to lower the temperature of the water too much. If you are cooking them from fresh or refrigerated, they are done in about 3-4 minutes. If they are frozen, cook for about 5-8 minutes. I prefer using a spider strainer to remove from the water. If you dump them into a sink strainer, they could break.
Plate your ravioli and top with your favorite sauce. Mine is a simple marinara. You don't need a lot of sauce, just enough to accent the ravioli since they are delicious plain. Top with freshly grated parmesan, (I use a microplane rasp grater) and fresh chopped basil.