Friday, October 21, 2011
Acorn Squash Ravioli
Making ravioli at home is a fun activity that you can do with friends, or with children, or on a rainy afternoon. It's actually pretty easy, especially if you buy fresh pasta sheets. Bristol Farms carries fresh pasta sheets, as do several other stores around town. For the more adventurous cook, I've provided a recipe for making your own pasta below.
For the filling:
1 acorn squash
freshly grated salt, white pepper and nutmeg to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. Compost them or put them in the green trash bin. Place the squash halves cut side down on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake until soft, 45-60 minutes.
3. Remove from the oven and cool. Scoop the cooked squash into a bowl. Compost the skins or put it in the green bin.
4. Mash the squash until smooth. Season with salt, white pepper, and nutmeg to taste. Mixture should be thick.
5. Preparing the filling can be done in advance. Refrigerate the filling to use within 3-5 days, otherwise, freeze the filling until ready to use. If frozen, defrost the filling before proceeding with this recipe.
One medium acorn squash will produce a fair amount of filling. You can freeze any leftovers or turn the leftover filling into a soup by thinning it with broth.
Assemble the ravioli:
4 sheets fresh semolina pasta
1. Using a hand-crank pasta machine or a rolling pin, roll the pasta to desired thickness (or thinness). [Most fresh pasta sheets are intended for lasagna or to be cut into noodles. Since ravioli has 2 layers of pasta, I like to roll it thinner, but this is a matter of preference.]
2. Starting with a sheet of pasta that's about 3-4" wide, place spoons of prepared filling down the midline of the pasta sheet, spacing them about 3" apart. Leave an inch at the top, the bottom, and on either side of the spoons of filling.
3. Fold the pasta sheet lengthwise so that the 2 long sides come together. Press down in between the filling so that the dough sticks together. Squeeze out any air so that the filling is well encapsulated. If you're having trouble getting the pasta to stick together, it helps to dip your finger in water and run it where the pasta comes together.
4. Using a knife or a pasta cutter, cut between each spoon of filling leaving enough dough on either side to create a generous edge of pasta. You can cut each piece into half-moons to give the ravioli a decorative shape.
Alternatively, you cut your pasta sheets into 3" wide lengths. Place spoons of filling 3" apart down one sheet, then cover with another sheet and cut.
5. At this point, you can freeze the ravioli for later use. To do this, arrange the ravioli in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in the freezer. Once frozen, you can pack the ravioli in a plastic freezer bag or a freezer container.
Frozen ravioli can go right from the freezer into a pot of boiling water. In fact, you don't want to defrost them, as they might stick together.
6. To cook: Bring a pot of water to a boil. Gently add the ravioli. Cook in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, or until done.
Acorn squash ravioli are delicious with a creamy tomato sauce. If you have any delicious home-made sauce like the Slow Cooked Tomato Sauce from Septmber 24, 2010, heat it up and stir in a little cream before saucing the ravioli.
I like to make a simple sauce using melted and lightly browned butter, ground toasted walnuts, and sage.
Omnivores might enjoy these ravioli with a classic Bolognese sauce. Whatever you decide to do, these ravioli are delicious and keep well in the freezer, so make extra to enjoy at another meal.
To make your own pasta:
Making your own pasta isn't hard, but an experienced hand produces a better result. Here's an easy recipe you can play with, if you'd like:
3/4 C unbleached all-purpose flour
1 large egg at room temperature
In a large bowl or on the kitchen counter, mound the flour and make a well in the center. Break the egg into the center of the well and begin to "scramble" the egg, incorporating a little bit of flour at a time as you continue to stir the egg with a circular motion, adding more and more flour as your go. Once the mixture holds together, you can use your hands to incorporate the flour. Knead the dough for 6-7 minutes, incorporating as much of the flour as possible. The dough will have a shiny appearance when properly kneaded. Wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest on the counter for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, unwrap the dough. Pat or roll into an oblong disc. then roll into a thin sheet with a pasta machine. You may want to cut this dough in half before rolling it with the pasta machine in order to make it more manageable.
Some people prefer to use fancy durum wheat or semolina instead of all-purpose flour. These flours are wonderful and produce a more toothsome pasta, but they are also more difficult to work with.
Today's bounty included:
From Underwood Family Farms: green leaf lettuce, green bell pepper, broccoli, Cherokee heirloom tomato, golden beets, rainbow chard, Sugar Baby pumpkin, fennel, and Acorn squash.
From Weiser Family Farms: celery root.
From Rancho Santa Cecilia: mandarins.
And from Silver Lake Farms: arugula and mustard microgreens.