Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Squash Ravioli

I have been dying to try to make homemade ravioli for a year now, and I finally decided to do it last weekend.  I had a cute squash from my CSA on hand, so I decided to make squash ravioli.  After researching on this website what type of squash I had, I was pretty sure it was a Buttercup Squash.  It tastes similar to a sweet potato.  I am not going to lie, this ravioli took a lot of work.  My entire evening was dedicated to this dinner (which ended up happening at 10 pm), but this is not to discourage anyone from making their own, because the raviolis really are delicious and pretty.  I just wanted to give you fair warning.  

I decided to change things up and use Martha Stewart's pasta dough recipe instead of Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It's recipe.  There are a few differences between the two recipes, and ultimately I found the Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It's recipe to be better.  Compared to Martha's, Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It's addition of olive oil, made the dough less sticky and easier to handle.  Plus, I made the dough in a large bowl instead of on the counter like Martha demonstrates - the dumbest and messier decision ever.  Click here to compare recipes.

Here are the ingredients for Martha Stewart's Cooking School's Fresh Pasta Dough:
-2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for flouring
-3 large eggs, room temperature
-Pinch of course salt
-Semolina flour, for baking sheet (I used coarse cornmeal)

Create a mound of the flour on a large clean work surface, and then create a well in the middle.  Lightly beat the eggs and salt with a fork in a small bowl, then pour into the well.  I would have provided more pictures, but my pasta turned into a sticky mess.  Large eggs, plus a small well plus a countertop equals disaster!  It eventually worked out in the end, but I definitely needed my friends assistance at one point!  Continuing on, use a fork to work the flour into the eggs.  Then use your hands to work in the rest of the mixture, a bit at a time, just to form a sticky dough (don't force the flour to be incorporated; it's okay if some remains on the work surface).  For a more detailed look of pasta dough making, check out my original pasta dough post here.
Knead the dough with your hands for about 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.  Form dough into a ball and wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and let rest for 1 1/2 hours at room temperature.  I found that when I went to unwrap the dough, the plastic wrap stuck to the dough.  I would recommend wrapping the dough in a clean, damp kitchen towel.  While the dough is resting, create the ravioli filling.

Ingredients for Martha Stewart's Cooking School's Ravioli with Butternut Squash Filling:
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-Coarse salt and pepper
-1/2 small butternut squash (1 1/2 pound), halved lengthwise and seeds removed (I used the buttercup squash)
-1 large egg yolk
-3/4 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
-Fresh pasta dough
-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
-1 tablespoon chiffonade of sage

To begin, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds.
Oil the baking sheet, and place squash cut side down.  Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through.
Measure out 1 3/4 cups of the squash filling, and keep the leftovers for another use.  The leftovers can make a delicious mashed squash with Parmesan and a little salt and pepper.  Place half of the 1 3/4 cup filling in a bowl, set aside, and place the other half in a food processor with the egg yolk, Parmigiano-Reggiano, ricotta, and season with salt and pepper.  Pulse until smooth, then add the mixture to the reserved squash, and gently fold to combine.  Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 30 minutes.
Now it is time to roll out your dough.  If you have a pasta maker, you are a lucky duck.  This is the most difficult part of the process.  Divide your ball of dough into four equal parts.  Take one part and flatten it out into a small disk on a well-floured work surface.  Gently roll out the dough with a rolling pin, careful not to put a lot of pressure on the edges, to prevent sticking to the counter.  Roll out until the dough is almost transparent, and you can start to see your countertop coming through the dough.  This takes several minutes.
Now you are ready to make the ravioli.  Take about one teaspoon of the squash filling and place on your sheet of dough, spacing each dollop about 1 inch apart.  Only fill up a little less than half the dough.  Now take a pastry brush dipped in water and brush between dollops.  This will help seal the ravioli.  Fold over the empty half of your sheet on top of the dollops.  Use your fingers to gently pat out the air bubbles.  Air bubbles may burst the ravioli while cooking.  Then use a knife or pastry cutter to create each ravioli square.
Sprinkle Semolina flour or corn meal on a baking sheet, and place ravioli on top while you are completely your batch.  Do not worry if the Semolina flour sticks, it will fall off while cooking.
Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil.  Gently place ravioli in water and cook for about 4 minutes or until tender.  Toss with melted butter, fresh sage, and shaves of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

If you do not want to cook all your ravioli at once, simply place your ravioli on a baking sheet and freeze for about 10 minutes, and then place the ravioli in an air-tight bag.  These will last up to 4 months, and you can cook them in the same amount of time without thawing them out.  Enjoy!

Last year around this time, I made chocolate meringues.  Click here to check them out.

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