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One of the best qualities of butternut squash, besides its sweet flavor and smooth texture, is that it stores remarkably well.  Butternut squash is easy to grow, and we end up using a lot of it throughout the fall and winter months.  Two of our favorite recipes for this versatile squash are butternut squash soup, and butternut squash ravioli.

Ravioli is fun and easy to make at home

Although pseudo-fresh ravioli isn’t difficult to find at local markets, homemade ravioli is difficult to beat, both for flavor, and texture.  With a few simple tools and ingredients, ravioli is easy to make.  This past weekend, as we still had some squash sitting on the kitchen counter, we had a marathon ravioli making session in the kitchen.  With a little investment in time, we managed to freeze dozens of ravioli to make quick 5 minute meals for those busy days in the coming months.

Yield: Approximately 4 Dozen Ravioli

Equipment

Stand mixer with pasta roller attachment or counter top pasta roller
Ravioli mold (or sharp pizza wheel)
Cooking spray oil
2-3 large cookie sheets
Rolling pin
Pastry brush

Pasta Dough:

16 oz Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, or ’00’ Flour (plus extra for dusting)
5 Large Eggs
1 Tsp Kosher Salt
1 Tbsp Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Egg Wash:

1 Whole Egg, Beaten
1 Tsp Water

Butternut Squash Filling:

2 Cups of Roasted Butternut Squash
16 oz. Fresh Ricotta Cheese
1/2 Cup Grated Fresh Parmesan or Romano cheese
1/4 Tsp Fresh Grated Nutmeg
2 Tsp Orange Zest
1 Tbsp Chopped Fresh Sage
1 Large Egg
Pinch Kosher Salt

Before assembling the dough, start by roasting the squash, so it has a chance to cool.

Roast the Squash:

Preheat Oven to 425 F

Peel and seed a medium butternut squash, and roughly chop the squash into cubes. Drizzle with a little olive oil.  Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and place the squash on the pan, distributing it across the pan evenly.  Place the sheet pan into the oven and roast for 20-30 minutes, or until the squash is lightly caramelized and tender.

Prepare the Dough:

Prepare the dough while the squash is roasting.  Combine the flour, salt, eggs and olive oil in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.  Mix on low speed until the dough begins to form a ball.  Turn out the dough, and wrap tightly in plastic, and rest in the refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour (up to 6 hours) before rolling.

Prepare the Filling:

While the dough rests, assemble the filling.  Place 2 generous cups of the roasted squash, and the ricotta into a medium sized bowl, and mash together to an even consistency (you can use a food processor fitted with a metal blade).

Roasted Butternut Squash and Ricotta

Add the cheese, nutmeg, orange zest, sage, egg, and salt to taste, mixing until evenly blended.

You can mix the filling by hand, but the consistency will be smoother using a food processor

Roll out the Dough:

Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and cut into 4 equal pieces.  Cover in plastic, and leave at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes before rolling.

Take 1 piece of dough and flatten into a rectangle with the palm of your hand to approximately 1/2 inch thick.  Dust the dough lightly with flour on both sides.  Set the pasta rollers at the widest setting (we use the Kitchenaid roller attachment, set to ‘1’).

Pass the dough through the machine rollers, and then fold the dough, letter-style, into thirds.  Dust with more flour, and repeat 2 to 3 times (do NOT adjust the rollers), dusting with flour as needed.

Proceed from this point WITHOUT folding the dough.

Set the rollers to the next narrowest setting (‘2’ for the Kitchenaid) and pass the dough through.  Repeat, reducing the space between the rollers after each pass.  If the dough starts to drag or stick to the rollers, dust with more flour.

Dust the sheets of pasta lightly with flour before each pass to prevent sticking

As the dough becomes too long to handle (usually by the ‘4’ roller setting for us), cut each sheet of dough in half cross-wise using a sharp knife (or pizza wheel cutter). Using the Kitchenaid we roll the dough down to the ‘5’ setting, no less than 1/32 of an inch thick.  If using a mold to assemble the ravioli, be sure not to cut the sheets too short!

The goal is to end with 8 approximately equal size sheets of pasta.  Place the finished pasta sheets on a floured cookie sheet, and lightly dust between them to prevent sticking.

It's important to cover the finished pasta sheets to prevent them from drying and cracking

Cover the pasta sheets with plastic, or a damp lint-free dish towel to prevent the pasta from drying and cracking while you assemble the ravioli.

Assembling the Ravioli:

Recently we’ve become fans of ravioli molds.  They’re effective, economical, easy to use, and make beautiful perfect ravioli every time.

Ravioli molds prevent over-filling, and turn out more consistent ravioli than assembling them free-hand

Do you need to use one?  No.  Until recently we made ravioli free-hand, but molds make assembly faster, and give more consistent results.

You can make ravioli free-hand, as shown above, but a mold is a good investment

If you use a mold, lightly oil the top surface of the metal half of the ravioli mold, and lay it flat on the work surface.

Lightly oiling the surface prevents the dough from sticking

Lay a sheet of pasta across the mold, ensuring the edges are covered on all sides.

Take the plastic half of the mold and place on top of the sheet of dough, and press down into the dough.

Press down on the dough to form small wells for the filling

You’re not trying to cut the dough, just to make impressions in the dough for filling, then set the plastic part of the mold aside.

The mold makes it easy to tell how much filling to use

Using two small spoons fill each well in the mold with the butternut filling.

Fill each dough impression with a small amount of the filling

Whisk the whole egg with the teaspoon of water.  Using a pastry brush, brush the edges of the dough around each well with the egg wash.

Lay a second sheet of dough over the filling, again covering all the edges.

Cover the filling with a second sheet of pasta

Using a rolling pin, begin at one short end of the mold, and roll, using even and moderate pressure, from one end of the mold to the other.

Use a rolling pin to roll across the top of the mold

Turn the mold a quarter turn and repeat.  It may take a few passes with the rolling pin, but roll until the excess dough around the edges is easily pulled away.

Pull away the excess dough from the edge of the sealed ravioli

Turn the mold upside down over a lightly floured cookie sheet, and gently push each ravioli on one edge to pop them out of the mold.

The result? Perfect ravioli!

Respray the mold with oil (really, otherwise the ravioli will stick — yes, that is the voice of experience), and repeat.

To Freeze and Store:

If you’re going to freeze the ravioli, to prevent them from sticking together, lay a single layer on a cookie sheet, and freeze, uncovered for a few hours.  Then place the ravioli in zip-top bags or freezer containers.  The ravioli will freeze well for up to 4 months.  You don’t need to thaw before cooking.

To Cook the Ravioli:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Gently slide the ravioli into the water, cook until tender and they begin float, approximately 3-5 minutes.  Don’t boil too vigorously, or the ravioli may burst.

Our favorite way to serve butternut squash ravioli is with a simple sage and brown butter sauce:

4 Tbsp Butter
12 Fresh Sage Leaves

Melt the butter in a small saute pan, add the sage and continue to cook until the butter starts to turn golden brown, and the sage is slightly crisp, being careful not to burn the leaves. Drain the pasta, and drizzle with the brown butter sauce and sage.  Top with a little cave-aged Gorgonzola, and grated Parmesan cheese…

Butternut squash and sage ravioli, with brown butter and gorgonzola. Need I say more?

Serve with fresh sourdough bread, and enjoy!  I hope you made enough for seconds…