Monday, November 13
Oh my. This dish was quite possibly the best thing to ever come out of my kitchen. At least in recent memory. I've been somewhat hesitant to try my hand at homemade ravioli in the past, but yesterday was the type of day, where after our breakfast plates had been cleared, and our bellies full of the best buttermilk pancakes ever, I didn't skip a beat before pulling the flour and eggs out of the cupboard again.
I made another loaf of the Cracked Wheat Walnut Cider Loaf, which this time turned out fantastically round and domey-topped, and I decided to conquer my irrational fear of filled pasta. I used some leftover diced squash to create the filling by sauteing shallots and garlic over low heat until they were golden and tender, then I added cider and chicken stock, covered it and cooked until soft. I mashed it up, added some parmesan, and let it rest while I went on to make my pasta.
I had some pasta flour from Williams Sonoma, which I started with, but didn't have quite enough, so I made up for the difference with a blend of semolina and all-purpose flours, which turned out to be a happy substituion. The semolina gave the pasta a lovely golden-flecked appearance, and just a little more texture and bite than my normal pasta recipe. After a late-afternoon matinee, it turned out to be too late to make raviolis, so we had Chipotle (oh how I love thee), and I stayed up until 11 pm watching Brothers & Sisters new favorite show), and making these little devils. They say that raviolis are a labor of love, and they are - and they are so worth it.
When I had finished the production work, I tossed the raviolis in flour and carefully froze them for us to enjoy for the next few weeks. After work today, I made a quick garlic and sage infused oil, which I emulsified with some pasta water to create a light and fragrant sauce to coat the raviolis before they received their sprinkle of parmesan. These babies were so good, I couldn't help but profusely praise myself throughout the course of dinner - poking and prodding Dustin for some compliments to the chef on her outstanding achievement. Even better than Dustin's compliments though, were the satisfaction I got in knowing that I made something that tasted so damn dreamy.
This is a great technique to use if you're a little squimish of dressing your pasta in ungodly amounts of butter, which is the usual accompaniment to squash raviolis. The process of boiling the flavored fat with pasta water creates a light yet satisfying sauce which clings to the pasta and gives them a luxurious mouthfeel.
Squash Raviolis with Garlic, Olive Oil and Crispy Sage
My own creation
This makes about 6 servings
2 cups assorted flours, such as a blend of semolina and all-purpose
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 large shallots, sliced
4 good-sized cloves of garlic, sliced
1/2 cup apple cider
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp olive oil
5 garlic cloves, sliced
8 large sage leaves, sliced into 1/4 inch strips
To make the pasta: Combine the flours in a large bowl and toss together with your hands. Break the eggs into a separate small bowl, and whisk with a fork. Add the eggs to the flour mixture and use the fork to gently incorporate the eggs into the flour, using your hands to finish the dough by squeezing and working it to combine the two elements evenly. Turn the dough out onto a clean counter and knead it until it is smooth and has a uniform appearance. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge. Remove the dough 30-40 minutes before you plan on rolling it out.
To make the filling: In the meantime, heat the olive oil over low heat in a medium heavy saucepan. Add the shallot and garlic, and cook slowly until golden and soft. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. Add the cider and broth, and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to low and simmer until the squash is very tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the lid and mash the squash to an even consistency - don't worry about getting it entirely smooth. The roasted shallot and garlic with provide a little bit of texture to the mixture. Cook the squash a little longer over low heat to reduce if necessary. You don't want the mixture to be thick, but you don't want it too wet either. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the parmesan.
To assemble: Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces and gently flatten the discs. Use a pasta machine to roll out the pasta into thin sheets. Line up one sheet at a time and place a tablespoon of filling at a time on the sheet, about 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches apart, in the center of the bottom half of the pasta sheet. Use your finger to run water along the bottom edge and in between each dollop of filling, and fold the top half of the pasta sheet over to cover the bottom, lining up the edges if you can. Use the side of your palm to press the two halves together, working out the air bubbles as you can. Once your filling is secure inside the pasta, use a knife to cut the raviolis and trim the edges. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. While you are assembling, take care to cover the finished raviolis so they don't dry out. I tossed my in flour then lined them up on a wax paper covered cooling rack to freeze in an even layer.
When you're ready to make the raviolis, heat your olive oil over low heat with the sliced garlic, and cook until the garlic has turned golden and soft. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the sliced sage leaves to the garlic and cook until they are crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside with the garlic.
Boil a pot of water to cook the raviolis, and salt generously. Toss your raviolis in (We did 8 per person, which was about perfect) in the water and cook gently, in batches, reserving them in a small bowl as they are cooked through, which takes about 3 minutes.
Take about 1/2 cup of the pasta water and add to the pan with the oil, turning up the heat and simmering to emulsify. Toss the water and oil in the pan to help the emulsification along. Add the cooked raviolis, reserved garlic and sage to the pan and toss several times to coat the raviolis with the sauce. Serve with a sprinkling of parmesan over top and enjoy immediately!