Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Roasted Butternut Squash Ravioli

The first time I really ate pumpkin (or any non-summer-squash, since I tend to use the terms interchangeably) in something other than pie, I was in Australia. Who roasts pumpkin, I thought. Haven't you heard of pie? Of course, I tried it and loved it. I've been hooked ever since. Pie, soup, side dish, main dish - if you can make it, I'll eat it. In fact, I recently saw a recipe for squash-stuffed chicken... or was it pork....
But I digress.
When I lived in Berkeley, there was a really great little shop that sold fresh pasta in tons of different varieties - from smoked salmon ravioli to meyer lemon linguini - and I would buy pasta there from time to time. It's owned by the guys who started Semifreddi's bakery. Anyway, I hadn't made pasta in quite a long time, so I decided to make pumpkin ravioli. From reading this, you're probably thinking that this was a pretty random decision. It was.

The ravioli were slightly garlicky and creamy on the inside and the pasta had a nice chew to it. The toasted pistachios were a really, really excellent addition. They added some crunchiness and really brought out the slight nuttiness of the whole wheat flour in the pasta. I loved it.
The recipe may look a little long, but it's really easy to make. One of the best things is that you can make all this stuff in advance and keep it in your fridge. Most people haven't seen pasta come from anywhere other than a box (often with an unfortuante fake cheese topping), so imagine how impressed your friends and family will be! You can also mix up the filling with other ingredients or go with all cheese, if you prefer.

Roasted Butternut Squash Ravioli
For the Pumpkin-ricotta filling
1 ½ cups butternut squash(or pumpkin), cubed and roasted (400F oven until tender)
½ cup ricotta or cottage cheese
1 tbsp parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

Pulse in food processor until smooth
Can be prepared in advance. Refrigerate until ready to use

Pasta with whole wheat flour
2 ½ c ap flour (3/4 lb)
¾ c Whole wheat flour (1/4 lb)
1 Egg
1 egg white
6-10 tbsp water

Mix flours together. Make a well in the center and add eggs and 6 tbsp water. Mix with a spoon until starting to come together, adding more water as necessary. Pasta dough should be fairly dry. Finish mixing dough by hand, gathering it into a ball. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes before working with it. Dough and pasta can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days.

You'll only need about 3/4 of the pasta dough to use up all the filling. Roll dough out very thin (basically as thin as you can manage if you don’t have a hand cranked pasta maker) and cut into strips, depending on how much pasta-to-filling ratio you’d like. Place teaspoonfuls of filling along a strip, cover with a second strip and seal tightly around each ravioli. Be sure to get all the air out of the pocket around the filling. You can wet the pasta strips with a little water around the fillings so they’ll stick together better if your pasta gets dry as you’re working with it. Let ravioli dry on a towel for at least 30 minutes – flip them over to dry both sides - before cooking to avoid clumping. Cook in boiling, salted water for 2-3 minutes.

Top with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and a handful of toasted pistachios (or pinenuts). Strong sauces will overpower the filling.
Makes 3-4 dozen ravioli, depending on size.

Notes: If you choose to use all white flour, you may need to reduce the added water by a few tablespoons.
Since you'll probably have some pasta dough left over, you can also cut the pasta into noodles or shapes. Let pasta dry on a rack or on a towel for about 30 minutes before cooking to avoid clumping. If you’re just making noodles, cook in salted, boiling water for 1-2 minutes.