Butternut Squash Ravioli
Handmade stuffed pasta is truly a labor of love: it can be quite time-consuming, but so fulfilling--especially when there is someone special to share it with.
At least once each fall, I like to make either pumpkin or butternut squash ravioli. My first batch this year was butternut squash. You can use the same method for any other winter squash, such as pumpkin or acorn.
for the filling
(This can be done up to a day in advance or while the pasta dough is being made.)
about 1 pound butternut squash
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Quarter the squash (carefully!), remove seeds and fibers (reserve for another use, if desired), drizzle with olive oil (not extra virgin) and roast in a baking dish for 30-40 minutes, until the flesh is tender and can be pierced easily with a fork.
Once the squash is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and puree the squash. (You can mash it with a fork or potato masher. A food mill or potato ricer would also work well.)
Combine pureed squash with freshly grated parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste.
fresh pasta for ravioli
2 3/4 cups of flour*, plus extra as needed for dusting
1 tsp salt
water, as needed
*Up to 1 1/2 cups whole wheat “pastry” flour can be substituted.
Create a well in the center and crack one egg.
Slowly incorporate the egg and flour by gradually drawing flour from the sides of the well with a fork. Be careful not to go through the sides of the flour mound or you will have egg all over the counter!
Once first egg is mostly incorporated, crack second egg and incorporate as before.
Repeat with the third egg.
Once all three are incorporated, use your hands to carefully combine the remaining dry flour with the egg mixture. It should look something like this:
Add water a few drops at a time until all the flour is moistened and you have a cohesive dough.
Knead for 5 – 10 minutes until ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. (The dough won't be completely smooth.)
Wrap dough in plastic and let it rest at room temperature for 15-20 minutes.
After resting the dough should be supple and elastic and much easier to work with.
Cut off 1/4 of the dough and wrap the remainder in plastic wrap. Flatten dough with your hands until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Using the flat plates of a pasta machine set to the widest setting (a rolling pin works too, but isn’t as precise), roll dough through to flatten. Fold the dough into thirds (like a letter), rotate 90° and feed back through the pasta machine on the same setting. Repeat one or two more times until the dough is a smooth, uniform shape the same width as the pasta machine.
Roll the dough back through the machine (not folding or turning), gradually decreasing the width each time, until you reach the desired thickness. (The last two settings both work, although the final setting makes for a more delicate pasta. If you go all the way to the final setting, be sure not to over stuff the ravioli, so that the filling won't break through the pasta during cooking.)
At this point, you should have a long strip of pasta about 5 inches wide. Lay it across a clean, lightly floured surface. Place about 2 teaspoons of filling approximately 3/4 inch from the closest edge and spaced 1-2 inches apart down the length of the dough.
Using water and a pastry brush or your fingers, moisten the edges of the dough (in a square around each mound of filling) and carefully fold the far edge over the near edge, enclosing the filling as pictured below:
Using your fingers, carefully press the dough on the far side of each mound of filling and in between each mound. Gradually work your way to the near edge of the dough, ensuring that any extra air is allowed to escape before the near edge is sealed.
Starting with the long edges, trim the dough with a ridged ravioli-cutter (a pizza cutter will work too). Then cut between each mound to create individual ravioli.
Seal the edges of each raviolo with the tines of a fork to ensure that no filling escapes during cooking.
Place finished ravioli on a floured surface to dry slightly before cooking. (I used floured waxed paper on a cookie sheet).
Don’t discard the pasta scraps! Toss them with flour, and spread them out to dry. Once they are completely dry (usually overnight), they can be stored in a sealed container at room temperature and used for soup.
Cooking and serving
with Sage and Brown Butter Sauce, for two:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
fresh sage leaves ( about 6-8 large or 10 small)
freshly grated parmesan
Bring a large pot of water to boil. (A pot with a pasta insert works particularly well for fragile stuffed pastas.) Generously salt the water.
Carefully add about 20 ravioli* to the pot and cook until desired tenderness is reached. (Cooking times will vary. Start with 5 minutes. Remove a raviolo and test a small corner for doneness at 5 minutes and every minute or 2 after that until pasta is al dente). To drain, either lift pasta insert or remove ravioli with a slotted spoon or mesh strainer.
While the pasta cooks, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once butter is melted, add sage and fry until sage is crispy and butter is browned. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (At this point, you could also add cream to the sauce, but the butter and sage are excellent on their own.)
Arrange drained ravioli on two plates. Top with browned butter and garnish with sage leaves, freshly grated pepper and parmesan.
*8-10 of these ravioli are usually plenty for one person as a main course. The recipe makes about 50. The remaining ravioli can be stored in the refrigerator (layer with flour and waxed paper in a sealed container) for a few days or frozen for several months.