making ravioli for the first time--excited and nervous!
Anything I should know in advance? Special techniques/tricks? Best practices? TIA!!!
I often had problems with ravioli tearing, being too soft etc. Then I learned to freeze my ravioli as I made them and everything got better immediately. I make sure there is space in the freezer for a cookie sheet (with sides) and then I either oil that sheet or put parchment paper on it. I put the completed ravioli on there--not crowded--and then put them in the freezer for at least half an hour. The dough firms up nicely and when you put them in the water they don't stick together or break. You can also stash the extras in a baggie in the freezer for later use.
This for sure! My ravioli also used to fall apart and stick as soon as I put it in the water, until I stumbled onto the freezing thing by accident. Now I often make ravioli in bulk and keep the extras in the freezer.
My other tip would be to start with less filling than you think you need. Too much filling oozes out of the sides when you try to seal them. If they're turning out too skimpy, you can try using a bit more, one at a time.
A good seal and do not overfill are the two rules of successful ravioli, +4 on freezing, only way to go.
Are you hand rolling the dough? I have done that, but it always ends up too thick. I use a pasta roller now, that attaches to the counter top. And like others have said, don't overfill, get a good seal, don't trap air in them.
What kind of filling?
I've never frozen my ravioli unless I'm planning on freezing them for an extended period of time.
I think overfilling is a very common novice mistake.
Instead of water, you can wash the dough with an egg wash before putting the second sheet of pasta on top (if you're doing it that way). it will help seal the edges.
Let the ravioli dry for a while before cooking to help make sure the edges seal.
Avoid air in the ravioli - if one has a lot of air in it you can always pop it with a pin/fork/finger and then just pinch the hole back together if necessary.
Don't boil them - cook them in a deep saute pan in JUST simmering water. If you put them in a full boil they are more likely to burst open.