Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Pumpkin Ravioli with Brown Butter and Crispy Sage


While Gregg and I were in New York, we shared the most amazing Pumpkin Ravioli! That dish has been on my mind ever since... and here is my version. 

Homemade pasta is SO simple (and inexpensive) to make, that you are almost in disbelief when you consider the make at-home price compared to the prices in fancy restaurants.  In addition, any extra raviolis that you make can be stored in a zip top freezer bag and frozen for later.  The fresh pasta is wonderfully tender, and without all the preservatives of dried (store-bought) pasta, it cooks in about 2-3 minutes!  So really, you could make these in advance, store them in the freezer for later, pop them in boiling water when you get home, toss with a sauce... and dinner is ready!  You can also flavor the pasta dough with just about any herb you can dream up!  

                         Click here for full length video tutorial.


Click for Printable Recipe




Ingredients:
Fresh Pasta Dough - (for about 2 dozen ravioli)
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour 
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt
2 large eggs
+ maybe a few drops of water

Filling
1/2 small can of pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
4 oz light cream cheese
salt and pepper
6 leaves of fresh sage, chopped small
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmigiano reggiano

Brown butter sauce with crispy sage leaves
half stick of butter
fresh sage leaves
chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
optional - Parmigiano reggiano for topping.

Step-by-Step:
Make the dough. 
The dough must not be too soft—it should require some serious effort when kneading! However, too much extra flour will make the pasta too tough to handle or put through the pasta machine, and, when cooked, it will taste floury. You could opt to roll the pasta by hand using a long wooden rolling pin, but using a pasta machine makes for far less work and faster prep. You can also make a large batch and freeze it once its been cut and shaped.
 
For the pasta:
Sift the flour onto a clean work surface and make a well in the center with your fist.

Break the eggs into the well and add the oil and a pinch of salt to the well.




1 2/3 c flour + 2 large eggs + 1 Tbsp olive oil + pinch of kosher salt
Gradually mix the egg mixture into the flour using the fingers of one hand, bringing the ingredients together into a firm dough. If the dough feels too dry, add a few drops of water; if it’s too wet, add a little more flour.


Knead the pasta until smooth, 2 to 5 minutes. Lightly massage it with a hint of olive oil, pop the dough into a plastic food bag, and allow it to rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. The pasta will be much more elastic after resting.

Pass the dough through the pasta machine:
Divide the pasta dough into 4 even sections. Keep each section covered with plastic wrap or a clean towel while you work with each one. Flour the dough, the rollers of a pasta roller (or your rolling pin), your hands, and the work surface.
Start to feed the blob of pasta dough through the widest setting of a pasta machine.

As the sheet of dough comes out of the machine, fold it into thirds and then feed it through the rollers again, still on the widest setting. Pass the dough through this setting a total of 4 or 5 times. This effectively kneads the dough, ensuring the resulting pasta is silky smooth.

Pass the pasta through the machine again, starting at the widest setting and gradually reducing the settings, one pass at a time, until the pasta achieves the required thickness. The pasta sheet will become very long—if you are having trouble keeping the dough from folding onto itself or are making ravioli, cut the sheet of dough in half and feed each half through separately. Generally the second-from-last setting is best for cannelloni, ravioli and any other shapes that are to be filled.


After the pasta has reached the requisite thickness, you can dust the pasta with a little flour and place it on clean kitchen towels and let it rest for just a short spell.

Cut the sheets into 6 by-7-inch rectangles.
If rolling the pasta by hand: Flatten a dough piece into a thick oval disk with your hands. Flour a baking sheet for the rolled out finished pasta. Place the oval dough disk on a floured work surface, and sprinkle with additional flour. Begin rolling out the dough with a floured rolling pin working from the center of the dough outwards, constantly moving the dough and lifting it to make sure it's not sticking.

Shape the pasta with the ravioli maker mold (or pass the pasta through the chosen cutters (linguini, fettuccine, etc.) and then drape the cut pasta over the broom handle or chair back again to dry just a little, until ready to cook). You can, of course, again toss the cut pasta lightly in flour and lay out in loose bundles on a tray lined with a clean kitchen towel.
1/2 small can of pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie mix), 4 oz reduced fat cream cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan, 6 chopped sage leaves, salt and white pepper to taste.
Make the filling: 

In a mixing bowl, combine the 1/2 can of pumpkin with the 4 oz reduced fat cream cheese, ¼ cup of Parmesan, the 6 chopped sage leaves and season to taste, with salt and white pepper.   

Place thinly rolled out pasta sheets on a ravioli maker mold.  Or, place them or a clean work surface and place tablespoonfuls of the filling along 1 of the long edges about 2 inches apart and about 2 inches from the edge. 
Perhaps NOT the perfect black pants to wear when making pasta!
Brush around the filling lightly with some water so that you can "seal" the ravioli together.  Alternatively, you can just brush the whole "upper" pasta sheet with water and then place it over the bottom one - wet side touching the bottom sheet. (This second method seemed a little easier for my little kitchen helper.)
Cover with another sheet of dough and cut the ravioli apart with a knife or pizza wheel (if not using a ravioli mold) or rolling pin (if you ARE using a ravioli mold) and press the edges carefully to seal.  

IMPORTANT: Make sure you pay attention to getting out all the air bubbles! These can expand when boiling and burst the ravioli.
Notice - Junior sized rolling pin. :-)
Repeat with the remaining filling and pasta sheets until you have used all of the filling.

Now, aren't they so cute?!

** Shortcut - 
running low on time?  Feel free to skip the fresh pasta and use wonton wrappers instead! 

Place the ravioli in the boiling water and cook, in batches if necessary, until pasta is cooked al dente, maybe around 2 minutes. They will all be floating at the top by that point.

 
Remove from the water and drain. Please handle them gently so they won't tear or burst.  They are more delicate than a big pot of noodles that you dump into a colander in the sink.
 

Season the ravioli with salt and pepper if desired, and cover lightly to keep warm while you make the sauce. (Store any extra ravioli in a resealable plastic food storage bag in the freezer for later use, stacking between wax paper or parchment paper to prevent sticking.
 
Make the sauce:
It can't get any easier than this!

Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat and when hot, add the butter and let it melt in one spot. (Do not move the pan.) When the butter has begun to brown around the edges, pick up the pan and swirl it around to keep the melted butter from burning and to melt the remaining butter. 

Add the sage leaves and reduce the heat to medium. Continue to cook until the leaves are crispy, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.  Carefully remove the crispy sage leaves to drain and dry on a paper towel.  
Somehow, the fried sage leaves are not NEARLY as strong as the fresh ones, and these just crumble into a million pieces in your mouth.  Very yummy... and a pretty garnish!  You must try them.
 

To serve, simply lay the ravioli in a shallow bowl and spoon the brown butter over the top. Garnish with the crispy sage leaves. Sprinkle with toasted, chopped walnut pieces and Parmigiano Reggiano. Serve immediately.
This is what was going on on the "other side" of the ravioli making process.  Canon, and our new friend, Bailey, were making fettuccine with the other half of the pasta dough tonight.  We made a quick meatball and marinara sauce, boiled the fettuccine for about 2 -3 minutes, and the little ones were set with their own meal!
Canon enjoys turning the crank and watching the noodles emerge.  It's like a magic show!
Looking for more great recipes?
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Here are a few bonus recipes to get you thinking...
Mongolian Beef

Meatball Stuffed Fried Ravioli (a favorite of our kids)

Roasted Red Pepper and Basil Pesto Penne

Double Chocolate Pecan Pie

Stuffed Pork Chops

Shrimp and Grits withTasso Cream Sauce

Written Method:
Make the dough. 
The dough must not be too soft—it should require some serious effort when kneading! However, too much extra flour will make the pasta too tough to handle or put through the pasta machine, and, when cooked, it will taste floury. You could opt to roll the pasta by hand using a long wooden rolling pin, but using a pasta machine makes for far less work and faster prep. You can also make a large batch and freeze it once its been cut and shaped.

Make the basic pasta dough
 Sift the flour onto a clean work surface and make a well in the center with your fist. Break the eggs into the well and add the oil and a pinch of salt to the well. Gradually mix the egg mixture into the flour using the fingers of one hand, bringing the ingredients together into a firm dough. If the dough feels too dry, add a few drops of water (maybe 1 teaspoon max); if it’s too wet, add a little more flour. Knead the pasta until smooth, 2 to 5 minutes. Lightly massage it with a hint of olive oil, pop the dough into a plastic zip top bag, and allow it to rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. The pasta will be much more elastic after resting.

Pass the dough through the pasta machine
Start to feed the blob of pasta dough through the widest setting of a pasta machine (I still use my manual Atlas Pasta Machine). As the sheet of dough comes out of the machine, fold it into thirds and then feed it through the rollers again, still on the widest setting. Pass the dough through this setting a total of 4 or 5 times. This effectively kneads the dough, ensuring the resulting pasta is silky smooth.
Pass the pasta through the machine again, starting at the widest setting and gradually reducing the settings, one pass at a time, until the pasta achieves the required thickness. The pasta sheet will become very long—if you are having trouble keeping the dough from folding onto itself or are making ravioli, cut the sheet of dough in half and feed each half through separately. Generally the second-from-last setting is best for ravioli and any other shapes that are to be filled, as you don't want it so thin that it tear after the addition of the filling.


Make the filling: 
In a mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin with the reduced fat cream cheese, ¼ cup of Parmesan, the chopped sage leaves and season to taste, with salt and white pepper.   Place thinly rolled out pasta sheets on a ravioli maker mold.  Or, place them or a clean work surface and place tablespoonfuls of the filling along 1 of the long edges about 2 inches apart and about 2 inches from the edge.  Brush around the filling lightly with some water so that you can "seal" the ravioli together.  Alternatively, you can just brush the whole "upper" pasta sheet with water and then place it over the bottom one - wet side touching the bottom sheet.  Cover with another sheet of dough and cut the ravioli apart with a knife (if not using a ravioli mold) or rolling pin (if you ARE using a ravioli mold) and press the edges carefully to seal. IMPORTANT: Make sure you pay attention to getting out all the air bubbles! These can expand when boiling and burst the ravioli.  Repeat with the remaining filling and pasta sheets until you have used all of the filling.


Place the ravioli in the boiling water and cook, in batches if necessary, until pasta is cooked al dente, maybe around 2 minutes. They will all be floating at the top by that point.   Remove from the water and drain. Please handle them gently so they won't tear or burst.  They are more delicate than a bit pot of noodles that you dump into a colander in the sink.   Season the ravioli with salt and pepper if desired, and cover lightly to keep warm while you make the sauce. (Store any extra ravioli in a resealable plastic food storage bag in the freezer for later use, stacking between wax paper or parchment paper to prevent sticking.

Make the sauce:
Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat and when hot, add the butter and let it melt in 1 spot. (Do not move the pan.) When the butter has begun to brown around the edges, pick up the pan and swirl it around to keep the melted butter from burning and to melt the remaining butter.   Add the sage leaves and reduce the heat to medium. Continue to cook until the leaves are crispy, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.  Carefully remove the crispy sage leaves to drain and dry on a paper towel. 

To serve, simply lay the ravioli in a shallow bowl and spoon the brown butter over the top. Garnish with the crispy sage leaves. Sprinkle with toasted, chopped walnut pieces and Parmigiano Reggiano. Serve immediately.

Food Nerd Notes:
The bright orange color of pumpkin is a dead giveaway that pumpkin is loaded with an important antioxidant, beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is one of the plant carotenoids converted to vitamin A in the body. In the conversion to vitamin A, beta carotene performs many important functions in overall health.  Current research indicates that a diet rich in foods containing beta-carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer and offers protect against heart disease. Beta-carotene offers protection against other diseases as well as some degenerative aspects of aging. 
(Ref - http://urbanext.illinois.edu/pumpkins/nutrition.cfm)

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