Saturday, December 8, 2007

Ravioli di Zucca/Squash Ravioli

I realize that I haven't been posting much lately. Life is full at the moment and I still feel a bit like pulling inward, taking inventory, and healing. It must be the season and all that has happened in my life this year.

I am on my way to a three day personal getaway to visit friends in Northern California, after spending today in Santa Barbara to help my father and aunt decorate their house for Christmas. I am sure that those connections will help to renew my spirits and fill me with inspiration. So, I won't get to post a Passionate Monday next week, but will resume the following week. But that doesn't mean that we all shouldn't find ways to live passionately!

I was so very touched by the responses from my last post about charity. I love to hear about everyone's favorite way to give. Thank you all who shared.

I have been wanting to post this recipe for quite some time, as it one of my husband's and my favorites.
Every fall the cooler weather and winter squashes arrive almost simultaneously. It is a good thing since I crave their comfort on brisk evenings. Butternut squash is an excellent source of Vitamin A, but also contains fiber, Vitamin C, manganese, magnesium and potassium. I just read that these squashes originated in Mexico, but they quickly spread to all parts of the new and old world, as you can find them used in most cultures.
This recipe is a labor of love, but if spread over a couple of days, the effort isn't too strenuous. We originally made these raviolis with a simple browned butter and sage sauce. Now we like to serve it over tomato sauce with the browned butter and sage sauce on top. While it may seem like a lot of flavors, they are very complimentary and oh-so-delicious! Please forgive my inexact proportions, but it really is difficult to make a mistake with these ingredients, so have fun with it.
Ravioli di Zucca or Butternut Squash Ravioli
Served over Tomato Sauce and Topped with Browned Butter & Sage
Serves 3-4 as a main course (or 6 as a starter)
Again, the Tomato Sauce is optional. If you are going to use it, make a marinara sauce ahead of time.
Start by roasting a butternut squash (about 3 lbs.) in the oven at 350 degrees until soft and golden, about one hour. (After cutting in half and scooping out the seeds, I brush with olive oil and turn face down on a baking sheet to bake.) This can be done the day before making the ravioli.
When the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh into a bowl. Stir in about one cup of ricotta cheese, 2/3 cup grated parmigiano reggiano, salt and pepper. If you live in Italy, the ricotta that you can buy is so much tastier than what we have in the U.S. that you can use just ricotta without the parmigiano. I would be tempted to use ricotta di pecora/sheep's milk ricotta for its unique flavor. Taste and adjust ingredients to your palate. (This, too, can be done a day ahead. If this mixture sits for a while, some liquid will separate. Drain off the liquid before using.)
For the pasta, I use Marcella Hazan's pasta recipe (but use a little more flour than she calls for - most likely because our flours are different here), but you can use whichever one you like. Or, if you are lucky enough to have access to buying fresh pasta, that makes this recipe much easier! A few of my tips for handmade pasta are:
  • Make it by hand, at least the first half a dozen times, so that you can really get the "feel" for the pasta. You will learn what it is supposed to feel like, you will learn what happens when it is too dry, too wet, etc. Once you master it, then you could make it in a mixer or food processor, but if you are like me, you will get hooked on doing it by hand and never use a machine!
  • I find that the dough when ready will have a silky consistency, not too tacky.
  • When rolling out, don't be afraid to dust with flour whenever the dough feels too sticky.
  • When pasta is done, cut into six wedges.
  • Roll out each wedge, on setting number 1 of a pasta machine, three times, folding in thirds between each roll. Set aside and repeat with remaining wedges.
  • Then take a pasta section and roll through settings 2-6. Repeat with each section, setting them aside on floured cloth when done.
Match pieces as closely as possible by size. Drop spoonfuls of squash filling, leaving at least 1 1/2" between.
Place another sheet on top and carefully press out the air around each mound and press to seal.

Cut between the raviolis and place each one on a floured plate or sheet. Set aside but do not refrigerate.

While you are bringing your pasta water to a boil, prepare the browned butter and sage sauce. We use about 2/3 butter to 1/3 good olive oil and a lot of sage. (Proportions for 4 people would be about 6-8 Tbsp. butter, 3-4 Tbsp. oil, and maybe 20-30 large sage leaves left whole or cut into pieces - your choice.) Saute until butter begins to brown and sage begins to crisp. Be careful not to burn!
Also, while the pasta water is boiling, if you will be using a tomato sauce for a base like we do, then heat that up. We make a simple marinara (be sure that you puree it so that is not chunky for this preparation.) You can also just take a can/box of tomato puree, add a good glug of olive oil and salt and pepper and reduce down by at least a third, which would take almost an hour. It is not quite as tasty as making a true marinara, but it is pretty darn good!

When your sauces are ready, drop the ravioli into the boiling water one at a time. These only take 3-5 minutes to cook, depending on how big you made them. You will be able to see, or feel, the edges change when they are ready. It is a little too rough on the ravioli to dump them into a colander, so we use a slotted spoon to remove them into a colander.

Spread your tomato sauce, if you are using one, on the bottom of the serving platter.

Place the raviolis on top, pour the sage/butter sauce over the top and serve with plenty of grated parmigiano reggiano on the side.

I know you are thinking this looks like a lot of work, but it is worth every minute. It is an addictive dish! Serve it with a fruity red wine like dolcetto, refosco, nero d'avola or a very simple Chianti.

I find that I usually have left over filling. I either freeze it for my next batch, or use it the following days as a bruschetta topping with some drizzled sage butter on top.

This is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, this week hosted by Briciole.

Buon appetito!


Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Looks yummy but since I can't eat pasta, I use butternut differently but still in an Italian way - roasted butternut risotto, a la the River Cafe. Very, very delicious.
Travel safely and have a good time away.

The Passionate Palate said...

Absolute Vanilla - oh, poor thing. There are gluten-free pastas out there, if that is the issue. But then squash risotto is excellent!

katiez said...

I haven't made ravioli in years! I love all of the flavors in this... I may just have to succumb to temptation and make some.
I know i't a lot of work but it can be rather soothing...if you have the time!

Simona said...

Ravioli di zucca are fantastic. I am getting a big kneading board for Christmas, because I want to start building some pasta making skills. Your ravioli look beautiful.

VegeYum @ A Life (Time) of Cooking said...

Have a great break and reconnect body and soul again. Love the ravioli. I have made my own pasta for years but never made ravioli. It looks great, and well done using pumpkin again so soon after Thanksgiving and Halloween.


Africantapestry and Myfrenchkitchen said...

This is incredibly good!Freshly home made pasta and a beautiful filling/sauce like is really worth all the trouble!

Chloe said...

Ooooohhh…my mouth is watering just looking at the pictures! This dish looks delicious. Hope you have a wonderful visit with your friends and you find it is just the thing to renew your spirits.

Chris said...

Oooooh! Yum! This looks scrumptious. I have only made ravioli by cheating - with wontons. I have to get off my booty and make it the way my gram did. And with B-nut squash? Whoa - I need to sit. :)

Have fun on your trip! Happy wishes to you and you fam.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

OH MY GOSH! So much work for such a stunning meal... wow!
and YUM!

I hope you have a wonderful time with your family and friends, they really do make this season special.

I am thinking of you this Christmas, I hope that it is a time of peace for you.

With that thought in mind, I am tagging you with a Christmas meme that I made up. If you opt out, it's perfectly alright.
I just had a little suspicion that you would come up with a good list; maybe that instead of this passionate Monday, hmm?

Best to you,
Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Happy cook said...

Wow what can be better than home made ravioli
Looks super delicious.

african vanielje said...

Jeni Bella, I just know that meal tastes gorgeous. I can almost smell it. Such a lot of love and care for your man. I'm sure he appreciates it though.

Anonymous said...

You did a great job on this dish. The pasta looks so light!

Laurie Constantino said...

This is one of my favorite foods ever, and yours looks delicous. Like Katie, I haven't made it in years, which I can tell from looking at your gorgeous pictures is a big mistake. Thanks for reminding me of this wonderful dish!

Kalyn said...

Sounds wonderful. I'm really a fan of butternut squash, especially with sage or rosemary. Love seeing the process of making this too; I've never done it.

Dana said...

This recipe looks delicious! I think I might have to break out the pasta maker I received, but haven't used yet.

I hope you have a wonderful, relaxing time away.

The Passionate Palate said...

Katie - succumb! succumb! It's worth it.

Simona - a kneading board! I am jealous. Hope you have fun with it.

Vegeyum - thank you...I did have a good break.

Ronell - yes, it is worth the trouble, you are right.

Chloe - glad you drooled over the pics. It was delicious. And I did have fun with my friends.

Chris - wontons work too. Thanks for your sweet well-wishes.

Scarlett - thanks for your comforting thoughts. And thanks for tagging me. I'll hop on over to your sight today to see just exactly what I am in for!

Happy Cook - my sentiments exactly.

AV - you are so perceptive!

Maryann - my sincere thanks!

Laurie - it's one of my favorite foods too. I hope you are inspired to make it.

Kalyn - you MUST give it a try. They really are easy and intuitive, just time consuming.

Dana - thank you...and yes, you should break out that machine and give it a try. Invite people over to help...make it a party. :-)

Christina said...

Oh, I've always wanted to make this, and every time I pick up a winter squash at the market, I think about learning how. Now you've gone and shown me how, so I no longer have any excuses. This sounds wonderful and the perfect winter vacation dish, when I have time to make the pasta.

Thank you!

The Passionate Palate said...

Christina - I hope you are inspired. It is really worth it!

tongue in cheek said...

Can I come to your house for dinner every night?
This looks like what they would serve in Heaven!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

That looks delicious, Jeni! Yum!

Hope you enjoy your break! it is certainly well deserved and I am very proud of you for taking care of yourself!

The Passionate Palate said...

Tongue in Cheek - you would be welcome at my house anytime!

Jenn - Thanks for the support!