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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Butternut Squash Amaretti Ravioli

Inspiration:  Lunch at Harry's Bar, Cernobbio, Lake Como, Italy

Make your own pasta (see below) or use wonton wrappers when pressed for time - both are great- create the shape you like!

Served with an intensely rich mushroom broth and brown butter enoki mushrooms and pine nuts - so incredibly good!
I have made fresh homemade pasta or used wonton wrappers, that you can find in the frozen section of your supermarket, to make these.  Both work well.  Don't be intimidated to make fresh pasta though.  Once you have done it once, you gain confidence and it becomes a great, creative way to spend a few hours.

Butternut Squash Amaretti Raviolis:  Makes about 23 - 2inch (5cm) square raviolis

How to make them:

Squash Filling:
  • 1 medium butternut squash, about 600g or 1lb
  • 1T (15ml) of oil + 2t to brush on the squash before roasting
  • 1 large shallot, finely diced
  • 1/2t of garlic, finely diced
  • 2T (30ml) of grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
  • 2T (30ml) of chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 3 small amaretti cookies, crushed finely 
  • salt and pepper to taste

Begin by preheating your oven to 350°F (175°C).  Cut the butternut squash (1 medium - 600g) in half lengthwise and drizzle each side with 1(t) of oil.  Place cut side down on a parchment lined baking sheet and cook in the center of your oven for 40 minutes or until the neck of the squash is very tender when pierced with a sharp knife.  While the squash is cooking, you can begin to prepare your fresh pasta (see below).

Remove the cooked squash from the oven and gently scrape out the seeds with a spoon. Discard the seeds.

Scrape the remaining flesh out of the skin and place it in a bowl.  Reserve.

In a large pan, sauté the chopped shallot (1 large)  in 1T (15ml) of oil over medium high heat for 3 minutes.  Add the chopped garlic (1/2t) and cook an additional 30 seconds.

Add the cooked squash, the parmesan or pecorino cheese (2T - 30ml), the crushed amaretti cookies (3)  and the chopped fresh basil (2T - 30ml).  Cook for another minute, mixing everything to evenly combine.  Allow the stuffing to cool before using.

For the fresh egg pasta: Makes enough for 24 raviolis with a little extra left over 
  • 2 cups (240g) of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2t of salt
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature 
  • freshly ground pepper (about 5 turns of your pepper grinder or to taste)

Place the flour (2cups - 240g), the eggs (3), the salt (1/2t) and freshly ground pepper in you food processor. Pulse, until the dough sticks together and forms a ball.   The dough should be smooth, firm and not sticky.  Remember, the dough must easily go through the rollers of the pasta machine without sticking - this is the texture your are looking for.  

Feel the dough to see if it is sticky (and this can depend on the size of the eggs your are using).  If you feel it is, remove it from the food process are knead it while adding more flour until you have a firm, smooth dough.  If the dough is too crumbly and dry, add a little water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue to pulse in the food processor until you get the firm smooth dough you are looking for.

Remove from the food processor, knead a few times on a lightly floured flat surface and allow to sit, covered with plastic wrap, at room temperature for at least 1/2 hour and refrigerate for 1 hour. The dough can also be refrigerated overnight, keeping it covered.

When you are ready to make the ravioli, cut the dough into 5 equal pieces.

Flatten one piece with your hands, keeping the remaining pieces covered with plastic wrap so they do not dry out.

Run the dough through the widest setting of your pasta machine (mine is 0) once.  Fold it in thirds, flatten with your hands and run it through at 0 again.  

Begin to run the pasta sheet through, one setting at a time (no need to fold it over anymore), until you reach setting 7.  If the pasta is sticky and soft between settings, brush it with a little flour to prevent it from sticking to the machine rollers.

You can now create the shape that you prefer for your ravioli.  Here is how I made the little square pockets for mine. Alternately, you can just stuff and fold in half to create a half moon shape.  This is quick and easy or use a traditional ravioli press.

Shapes for this recipe:  Using a 3 inch round cookie cutter, cut rounds out of the sheets of dough (each sheet should yield 4 or five pieces).  

Scramble one egg in a separate bowl to use as a glue to seal the edges.  

Place one 1 tablespoon of filling in each piece, and brush the edges with the egg.  

Pinch the centre together.

Now bring the outer open sides in to the centre and pinch together.

Pinch each of the 4 edges together, making sure the filling is well sealed.

Continue to prepare your raviolis and allow them to dry at room temperate for about 1/2 hour on a cookie sheet.

Place the cookie sheet with the ravioli in the freezer to individually freeze them, otherwise they will stick together.  Once partially frozen, they can be transferred to an airtight container or freezer bag and frozen until you are ready to use them.  From a frozen state, they will require about 8 -9 minutes of cooking time in salted boiling water.  Turn them upside down once they are floating to cook the thicker pinched section.

Pinching the dough this way creates a thickness that is longer to cook.  If you use a regular shaped ravioli, they will not take as long to cook. The best way to gage if they are cooked is to sample one after a few minutes and go from there. 

Serve with the sauce of your choice.  They are delicious with cream or pesto sauces.  Or try this rich intense mushroom broth - sooo incredibly good.

You can use any leftover dough and scraps to make some linguini.  Just knead it together, and run through the machine to a setting of 7.  Use the machine attachment to cut into linguini strands.  Allow to dry for about 30 minutes, transfer to a freezer bag and freeze or keep in the fridge for a few days.   Cook in salted boiling water when ready to use.  

I hope you enjoy!

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