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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

homemade butternut squash ravioli

I made a few New Year's resolutions this year...

I thought about things like never eating meat, or always riding my bike to work. I thought about promising myself that I would give up sugar or exercise three times a week.

I know, though, that those things would last for maybe a month or two.

Instead, I set a couple of goals for things I would like to do before 2012 is over.

One is to try to establish a vacation fund. One of me kids has never even been on an airplane, and the other two were babies the last time it happened. We go camping a couple times a year, but I would like to take them somewhere a bit farther afield. The kids and I are thinking of Washington DC.

Another is to try making yogurt and cheese. I keep reading that it really is the simplest thing ever, and that if I try it once I will never buy yogurt again. We'll see if that pans out! I have nearly a year to work up the courage.

One goal I can already cross off the list was to try making my own pasta. It was awesome! I'm not saying that I am going to quit buying pasta (because at a couple of dollars for a pound, there is just no reason not to go ahead and buy it instead of making it). But I am saying that once in a while, for something fun to do, I am going to make my own. It isn't difficult, it didn't require any ingredients I didn't already have, and I thought the results were delicious.

I LOVE ravioli stuffed with butternut squash, and I happened to have a large butternut squash from my AHO box this week, so I went for it.

I started with this recipe from Family Fun Magazine.

All told, it took about two hours from start to finish, although not all of that was active time. I wouldn't do this on an ordinary weeknight, that's for sure! But I had a lazy, relaxed morning at home, and my daughter helped me with cutting and folding the pasta. We had a good time working together; I guess the process was just as important as the product!

Here is how to make the filling:

2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon milk
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup ricotta cheese

Preheat the oven to 350.

Peel a butternut squash, remove the stringy, seed-y stuff, and cut into 1-inch cubes. You will need about 2 cups of these cubes for the ravioli... I went ahead and roasted it all. I put two cups on one baking sheet,  and left them plain for pureeing into ravioli filling. I put the other half on another baking sheet, tossed them with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese. Those, I snacked on all morning while I made the ravioli! Just be sure to line both sheets with foil, or you will have really stuck squash and a really tough pan to clean.

Place the squash in a single layer, spaced out a bit, on the baking sheet. Roast for about half an hour, or until a fork can easily pierce the squash pieces.

In a food processor or blender, puree the squash with all of the other ingredients. You want a nice, smooth, even consistency.

While the squash is roasting in the oven, you can start making the pasta.

Ravioli Pasta:

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs

Making sure you have a nice clean counter, mound the flour directly on your work surface, and make a well in the middle of it. Lightly beat the eggs and salt together, and then pour into the middle of the flour.  Using a fork, sonly and carefully incorporate the flour into the egg, until there is no dry flour left. You can then get your hands (and a dough scraper) in there, and knead and mix it, until it is all mixed into one smooth, round, ball.

Divide the dough into halves, and form each half into a disk that is 1/2 inch thick. Wrap each of these in plastic wrap and let them rest for 30 minutes.

After the dough had rested, take one disk, halve it again, and roll it out. It is very easy dough to work with... it doesn't tear or stick. Just make sure to lightly flour your work surface and the rolling pin. Keep rolling and rolling it, until is is only as thick as a dime.

Once it is rolled out, you can cut it. I used a cookie cutter that is about 2 inches across. It occurred to me later that it would be just as nice, and perhaps easier (with less waste) to cut it into squares, using a knife. Either way is pretty simple and effective. If you like circles, use a cookie or biscuit cutter, or even the top of a drinking glass. If you like squares, then by golly, cut squares.

Do this again with the remaining dough. In all, you should roll and cut four sections of dough. I got 14 circles cut out of each piece of dough, which will make 7 ravioli. So, all in all, I got 28 ravioli.

Once your pasta is rolled and cut, and your squash roasted and pureed, let's put them together!

Pick up a pasta circle, and using your fingers, pinch it all over a bit, to make it just a teeny bit thinner and bigger. By all means, though, do not try to stretch it. Your dough will break in half, and you will go lay down and cry.

Once it is a bit larger and flatter, you are ready to fill. Dip a finger in some water, and wet the dough all around the edges, in order to form a sort of glue for holding the two halves together. Place about a 1/2 teaspoon of filling onto the dough, in the middle of the wet edges. Pinch one more circle, and put it on top. Using a fork, crimp the pasta all around the edges. This will seal it all up nicely!

These ravioli can now be refrigerated for a day or two, if you want. Or you can just boil them now.

Put them into a few quarts of boiling water. They will sink at first, then slowly rise to the top. Give them about 5 minutes after they float, to make sure the pasta is cooked through.

While they are boiling, melt a stick of butter over low to medium heat. Add some sage (either slivers of fresh sage, or a half-teaspoon or so of dried sage powder). Let it all cook until it is browned and smells delicious.

Lift the pasta out of the water with a slotted spoon, and serve with a bit of the browned butter drizzled over it.