Homemade Butternut Squash Ravioli
My favorite pasta dish in the entire world is butternut squash ravioli. It is savory with a touch of sweet.
It’s not for the faint of heart, however. It’s a multiple hour process and, if you ever get the chance to try it in a restaurant, do not hesitate. Order it. Eat it. Savor it. And realize that the dish was 4 to 6 hours in the making.
The recipe I followed (with a few changes) calls for roasted squash, and that takes peeling, cubing, roasting in olive oil and then mashing the roasted squash with a beautifully aged parmesan Reggiano and spices. I learned butternut squash is not something that is a short, easy roast. It’s a weird shape. It has a thin skin. And you have to cut off the skin to cube it and roast it. Some recipes call for an egg yolk to bind it all together, but I skipped that so I could eat the filling as I cooked.
The pasta needs to be dense enough to hold shape so for this ravioli, so I tried making it with a blend of semolina flour, 00 flour and all-purpose. I found that it gave it a chewiness, and a glutenous structure that would hold the filling, but still roll thin enough to make a gorgeous ravioli.
Rolling this out took some patience. Previous experiments in ravioli taught me that a thin, see-through pasta sheet was essential to a delicious tasting final product. I discovered that if the dough is too thick, the pasta to filling ratio is off.
I tried hand-cutting the dough and tried using a traditional ravioli maker. I found the ravioli maker to be far easier to use and created more consistently shaped ravioli. Even with a ravioli maker mold, it’s still a thrill when the ravioli actually stays together when it’s boiled.
Browning butter is easy. Martha Stewart calls this golden nectar of the gods a “secret weapon for cooking and baking.” It’s where the water starts to evaporate off the butter, leaving a nutty, smoky, savory, warm delicious creation behind. It turns any sauce into a flavor explosion.
This recipe and handmade exploration was a smashing success with taste. Everyone agreed that it was delicious. Where it wasn’t a smashing success? The time it took. Literally the dawn of a new age could have appeared in the time it took to make the filling, roll out the pasta, and then baby the ravioli formation. It’s given me an entirely new appreciation for hand-formed pasta and, I will always order this dish in any restaurant with a new appreciation for what it took to make it.
The recipe I used was from ABC’s The Chew. I adapted it slightly. Check it out.
This AllRecipes video has been helpful in learning to make handmade pasta. Here is the basic recipe I tried for this dish.
¼ cup semolina
¼ cup 00 flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 Butternut squashes worth of roasted butternut squash
4 oz. Parmesan Reggiano, grated
¼ tsp Ground Nutmeg
¼ tsp Cinnamon
Optional: 1 egg yolk (I left out the egg yolk, but many traditional recipes call for it)
To roast butternut squash, peel and cube the butternut squash, drizzle generously with olive oil and salt, and bake on 400 for 30-40 minutes.
Mash the roasted butternut squash. Add the cheese and spices. Mix well.
Make the pasta sheets as per instructions (a machine roller is key) and get them thin enough to just almost see through them.
Place filling on top of one sheet; add second sheet of pasta on top of it. Crimp using either fingers, or a tool, or a ravioli maker. Boil for 1-3 minutes in salted water. Crisp up some sage leaves in browned butter and you’ve got a yummy meal.
Does this sound like just a tinch too much work? Handmade is bestmade, and this is truly delicious, but if you decide it’s a lot for one meal, look for this type of dish next time you’re out for dinner and try it. Yum!