Saturday, June 7, 2008

Hazelnut Squash Ravioli

Home-made ravioli takes a few hours, start to finish. It's very showy and very tasty. I had two winter squash still in storage, and hazelnuts from Oregon. If you do not have winter squash, wait: this really is a winter dish, although I served my ravioli with fresh peas (alternately, coat in browned butter with sautéed fresh sage). If you do not have hazelnuts, walnuts work too, or move to Oregon. This recipe serves four, but uncooked ravioli can also (I assume) be frozen.

Rinse, halve, remove seeds from, peel, and cube
  • 1 butternut squash
and place on a lightly-greased glass baking dish. Bake at 400°F for about 40 minutes, until squash is soft but not browned.

Meanwhile, make a pasta dough: combine in the kitchenaid with the paddle attachment
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup water
and mix well (proportions are not precise). Separate dough into two equal-sized pieces. On a well-floured surface, roll out dough. Eggs do amazing things to flour, allowing it strength while still being pliable. This dough will roll pretty thin. You'll want to make two matching circles each about 2-3 feet (!) diameter. (Or, rather, 2-foot circles, and then when you make the pastas, you'll have scraps of dough, which you can roll out again for more pieces.)

Wash the kitchenaid, and use it to mix the filling:
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs (I used one slice of whole wheat bread)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp fresh herbs (thyme, sage)
  • 1 tsp orange extract or zest
  • (in winter: 2 pinch nutmeg, and perhaps 1 pinch clove)
  • salt and pepper.
In a small frying pan, cook a few minutes
  • 1/2 cup chapped hazelnuts
in a few tsp of a mix of
  • olive oil
  • walnut oil.
Add nuts to mixer. When squash is done, add that too, and mix and mash well.

When all is ready, spoon filling onto one sheet of pasta dough by Tbsp for large ravioli or by tsp for small ones, spaced accordingly. Sprinkle sheet liberally with water, and cover with other sheet, pressing down lightly between mounds. Cut raviolis with butter knife or fluted cutting wheel. Working one-by-one, press edges of raviolis together with the broad side of a chop stick, trying to squeeze out the air. Transfer raviolis to a floured bowl, and coat each ravioli with flour to prevent sticking. Cover top raviolis with flour: the raviolis will dry out a bit, which makes them easier to handle.

At this point, if you're serving just two, I would suggest freezing half the raviolis for a later dinner. Or plan on having leftovers.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Transfer raviolis one-by-one to the boiling water, dusting off the excess flour. Be especially careful with the first one, as it may stick to the bottom if it drops too quickly. Pasta should cook about three to five minutes.

  • 1/2 pint cream
  • fresh shelled peas, from 1 1/2 pounds of pods
but do not boil.

Drain pasta, as always, in a colander set in the serving dish to warm the bowl. Ravioli should be served in a large shallow ceramic serving dish. While ravioli waits impatiently in the colander, splash some of the warmed cream on the bottom of the (cleaned) dish, and then transfer a layer of pasta. More cream and peas, more pasta, etc., ending with a third to half the cream and peas poured generously over the top.

Upon reheating the leftovers, I liked my ravioli garnished with even more parmesan, but the first time it did not need it. The dish is very sweet and heavy; a light dry white wine pairs well, and airy sourdough bread with a spicy extra-virgin table oil. My boyfriend and I enjoyed this meal with candlelight.

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