Saturday, March 30, 2013

Butternut Squash Ravioli

The beginning of an awsome
ravioli dish
I've got a fever and the only antidote is butternut squash raviolis. I don't know what the hell is wrong with me, but I've been thinking about these things for a few weeks now. It's a dish that was popular and on every menu about two years ago. Now you still see it, but people got a little squashed out, and moved onto things like sweet potato pumpkin gnocchis and raviolis stuffed with mushrooms and cheese (also delicious), among other Italian goodies. But today I'm going to pay tribute to the days when I first tried these delicious morsels and make myself a butt load of butternut squash raviolis with goat cheese and a sage and pecan brown butter sauce.
The filling recipe is loosely based on a recipe from Gourmet, and can be found online on Epicurious.

Cook down onions and garlic


2-pound butternut squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon poultry spice
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 log of fresh goat cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper
Butternut squash filling,
nearly ready
After having cooked a massive butternut squash in a 425 degree oven for 45 minutes and allowing to cool, and also sauteing a chopped onion with a few cloves of minced garlic in a tablespoon of butter, I allowed these two items to cool and combined in a large bowl. To that bowl, I also went ahead and added a little ground nutmeg, and instead of the recipe's original ingredient of hard, aged goat cheese, I'm using about half a log of fresh chevre. Mixed all together along with the poultry spice, Parmesan, and a bit of salt and pepper, and then smoothed with an immersion blender, the filling is ready for it's blankets of fresh pasta. Into the fridge it went until the time to form the raviolis.


3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 extra-large eggs

Making pasta
For the pasta itself, I'm going to stick with my tried and true recipe from Mario Batali. It's fairly easy, and encourages you to knead your pasta by hand properly. Kneading pasta is a pretty darn awesome thing. Makes me feel capable and like I'll never starve to death. Furthermore, it's therapeutic seeing a sticky mess, folded and mashed and pressed and worked with your palms turn into something truly delicious. After having played with your dough for around ten minutes, it's wrapped and rested for twenty minutes before heading to the pasta roller. I roll to setting 5 on our machine, but up to about the second or third to thinnest setting seems to do the trick on most pasta machines. Also, at this point, you may want to fill up a large pot of water and heat to boiling (since it will take a while). Salt the pasta water liberally after it's heated up.
Forming the raviolis
Once your pasta is rolled, take about a tablespoon of the filling and dollop onto the sheet of pasta. Leave approximately 2 inches of space between each mound of filling. Brush all spaces with a bit of egg wash (1 egg and a touch of water), and gingerly add a second sheet of pasta, taking care to press out as much air as possible. I like to slice excess pasta away from each ravioli, so that there's only about a half inch to an inch of pasta around each orb of filling. Repeat this process until you're out of pasta or out of filling, whatever comes first. (Just as a side note, you're likely to have more filling than pasta. The filling can be added to chicken stock to make a wonderful butternut squash soup.)
Raviolis, ready for boiling
After dropping the pasta into boiling water, it should only take a couple minutes to cook. The rule of thumb is that once they float to the top, they're cooked. Then you can add the raviolis directly to the sauce, which in our case was a brown butter sauce with sage and pecans. 


5 tablespoons butter
dash of lemon juice
10 sage leaves
1 cup whole pecans
Parmesan and salt and pepper as you like it

Brown butter sauce with
sage and pecans
Just before your pasta water comes to a boil and you're ready to drop those babies in, it's worth heating about five to six tablespoons of butter in a large skillet. Once the butter froths and just before it turns brown, add in about ten sage leaves, and a cup of pecans to toast up a bit. After your pasta is cooked, you can remove them from the water and dump directly into your brown butter sauce. Give it a toss, add a little Parmesan, and you're done!
Butternut squash raviolis with
brown butter sauce
These raviolis are a serious cloud pleaser. The homemade pasta is a delight to chew, and the noodles soak up all of the sauce beautifully. That filling is creamy, it's sweet, and it's a touch nutty and cheesy, playing beautifully with the fragrant sage and all of those sweet pecans. I'm not sure that it really gets any better than that. The salty, sweet combination that is well worth all of the work. 

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