I apologize for the sinister, Ludlumesque title. Really all I’m talking about is butternut squash ravioli — those pillow-soft — umm, pillows — made of pasta and filled with fillings.
Stuffing things into dough is something that every culture seems to get up to eventually. In India we have parathas and samosas, in China they do the won tons, in Nepal and Tibet they have momos, in Latin America they have the pupusa, and of course we get the ravioli from Italy (just one of their many filled pastas).
Butternut squash ravioli has been my husband’s favorite for years. He would always order it at Italian restaurants if it was available on the menu; that didn’t happen often enough, so we found a source of made raviolis at Rainbow Grocery and farmers markets. That source was not consistent either, so he coaxed me into getting out my pasta machine out from storage to attempt making it at home. The dough of course, is the same for any pasta shapes you might want to make; the recipe for the filling and the procedure follows.
One thing to note is that this is a vegan filling, which is somewhat unusual. We have always sought out vegan fillings (not because we don’t eat dairy, we do) but because most fillings seem to be so full of cheese and creaminess that one can hardly taste the actual flavor of the stuff. This one is chock full of butternut squash flavor.
Butternut squash ravioli with sage butter sauce: Ingredients:
Half a recipe of pasta dough from “It’s nice to be kneaded“, made into sheets
Half a regular-sized butternut squash
A teaspoon of olive oil
Salt to tast
Two tablespoons butter
Some slivered almonds
5-6 leaves of sage, chopped
Butternut squash ravioli with sage butter sauce: method:
Cut the squash into halves lengthwise. Place it face-down on a plate, with a few tablespoons of water, and stick it in the microwave for 8 minutes or until done. Test it with a knife — it should as soft as butter. When it cools a little, it should be easy to scoop out the seeds to discard, and the flesh to save in a bowl.
Mix in some salt and the olive oil, and whisk them in, which should have the effect of making the filling more luscious. Filling is done.
Now we construct the ravioli. Find two sheets of pasta that are roughly even in size. Lay out one (after dusting the surface with flour). Then place the filling in dots along the sheet, a teaspoon each, while leaving a lot of space around to stitch up the pillow seams, so to speak. Using some water to dip your finger in, carefully moisten the gaps in between the filling rounds.
The other sheet of pasta gets laid carefully over to cover. Press down gently but firmly to stick to its brother sheet on the bottom, along the channels that you dampened with water. Try to squeeze out any air from the pocket. Now, using a pizza cutter if you have one, or a butter knife if you don’t, cut the ravioli into squares along the pillow seams. Keep dusting with flour as you remove the prepared squares to a plate.
If you have some weird shapes left, don’t throw them away, I at any rate wrap filling into the scraps and fold over like a won ton, or find a few misshapen scraps to combine into a plausible ravioli.
These are ready, now to cook them and the sauce. Set a big pot of water to boil with a teaspoon of salt. While that is coming to a boil, prepare the very simple sauce in a wide pan. Heat up the butter; in it, gently saute the sage leaves and the slivered almonds. Let it simmer very gently.
Once the water comes to a rolling boil, put in the raviolis (do not toss them in, or the hot water will toss back at you). They only need to cook for a few minutes, and you will know when they are done when they float up to the top. Remove them with a slotted spoon into the sauce, and add a few ladles of the pasta cooking water to make the sauce flowing. Stir, simmer additionally for a few minutes with the cover on, and they are ready.