Let's Play Squash

Here I go again, revising traditional Italian dishes, making them healthier and hopefully making you wealthier and wise in the process. How? With squash, that's how.

Today's Recipe Revise focuses on ravioli. I've made my own! Imagine that. Acutally, you don't have to imagine it because I'm going to tell you how I did it. I made this particular pasta dough with whole wheat flour, so you could get some good-for-you grains in your diet. Yeah, you need them.

For the "stuffing," I used butternut squash and – get this – NO cheese. I promise, it's still delicious. Topped with a mix of roasted delicata and butternut squashes, this dish is perfectly balanced. The whole wheat pasta has a nutty taste (try it with hazelnut flour if you're extra-industrious) and the squashes are flavorful and meaty. Sage and some grated Parmeggiano Reggiano cheese give this dish extra life. So, let's make it happen.

First the pasta:

Makes about 30 1" diameter ravioli

What You Need:

100 grams all purpose flour

100 grams whole wheat flour

2 eggs, beaten

1 egg white for sealing the ravioli 

What You Do:

Measure out your flours using a scale - this is the only way to determine if you have the proper amount. After you've measured, mix them up together in a bowl, so that the all-purpose and the whole wheat are incorporated.

Pour onto a clean surface. I use my counter top, but if you'd like to use a large cutting board, that's fine as well.

Make a well or hole in the center of the flour and pour your beaten eggs in there. The sides of the well will hold them in place.

Using a fork or two of your fingers, start incorporating the flour into the eggs, slowly. Once all the dough is added, you will have a ball of egg and flour. This is a sticky process - don't worry, you're doing it right!

Knead this ball of dough with your hands for about ten minutes. The dough should start to spring back when poked with your finger. This means the gluten in the flour is starting to work and is giving the dough strength. This is good! Let the dough rest for 30 minutes. 

After the dough has enjoyed a disco nap, feed the dough into your pasta machine between the rollers at its widest setting. Crank that bad boy through at the widest setting THREE times, folding the dough onto itself in thirds after each pass. Then, start narrowing the settings on the rollers until the dough gets very thin. At the final pass, you should have a very thin sheet of pasta.

Place this on a cutting board and cut out 1 - 1 1/2" squares or circles. I used a cookie cutter for mine, but you can use one of those fancy-pants ravioli cutters or just use a dang knife. Keep it simple people. The fewer appliances you have, the less frequently they get caught in your drawers leaving you cursing the day you bought a can opener. Anyhoo! For more detailed instructions, you can check out a video on pasta making by yours truly here.

For the filling:

What You Need:

1/2 large butternut squash, peeled, cubed and roasted or boiled until it is soft.

1/4 almond milk

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon sea salt 

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper 

What To Do:

Take your roasted b'nut and place it in a blender or food processor. Add the other ingredients and blend until smooth.

Reserve it in an air tight container, or start filling your ravioli with it immediately. You can even store it in the freezer for weeks if you like!

Once you have cut out your ravioli squares or circles, take a teaspoon and place small dollops of the squash filling onto the squares. Don't forget to leave half the squares filling-less, as these will be the tops.

Brush the outer rim of the ravioli square with egg white and top with another (unfilled) square. Press the top layer of pasta into the bottom with a fork, sealing it.

Repeat this for all the ravioli.

At this point, you can either freeze them for later use, or start boiling a pot of water to eat immediately. I vote for the second option, but if you must reserve them for later, place small squares of parchment or wax paper between the ravioli so they don't freeze together and create a giant squash chunk. Giant squash chunk is just not as cool as separated ravioli, trust me.

Boil a large pot of water, and once the water is boiling, salt the water. Don't be shy about salting it either. Go for it!

Plop in the ravioli. Even if they were frozen, they will only require about 3 minutes of cooking. They should float up to the top of the water when they are done.

For the topping:

What You Need:

1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cubed into very tiny cubes (use the other half from the filing!)

1 or 2 delicata squash, cut in half with the seeds removed and sliced so you have half-moon slices. You don't have to worry about peeling the delicata.

Fresh sage - a LOT of it. Chop it up coarsely

Fresh rosemary, chopped. Just a sprinkle 

Salt and pepper - to taste

1-2 tablespoons of olive oil 

What To Do:

Heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Place your chopped squash on a baking sheet and sprinkle with the herbs, salt and pepper and olive oil. Using your hands, mix it all up.

Place it in the oven and roast for about 30 minutes, until the squashes are soft to the touch.

Plating It Up:

Place some ravioli in a bowl, top with the roasted veggies, and some Parmeggiano Reggiano cheese. 

Optional Bonus Points: Fry sage leaves in olive oil until they are crispy. Place on top of your finished dish. It'll be extra fabulous.