This ravioli couldn’t have been better. I think of it fondly even months later. The sweetness of the butternut is perfectly balanced by the goat cheese. The addition of the semolina flour gives the pasta a little more bite which is ideal for these raviolis.
For the butternut puree I roasted 1 sugar pumpkin and one tiny butternut squash. You can choose your gourd for this recipe as long as your reduce the water enough.
To roast, I coated the squash and pumpkin in olive oil and placed faced down on a half sheet. Baked at 375 for 45 minutes. When cooled, the skin was removed (easier to do this on the pumpkin than the squash as the skin is thicker and simply comes off) and the meat was pureed in a food processor.
I did not bother to squeeze any water out as I knew I would be cooking this mixture for a while but you are aiming for a consistency similar to what you get in a can and there is no shame in using the can. The can is delicious. I just had too many gourds.
The puree was transferred to a high walled pan and cooked on medium heat until it was warmed through.
The garlic, nutmeg, goat cheese, salt and pepper were added to the hot pumpkin. The idea was to not cook the garlic too much. I didn’t want to lose all of the garlic’s fresh taste but I did was it to permeate the mixture. The nutmeg really emphasized the sweetness which was needed as the sugar pumpkin isn’t as sweet as the butternut.
Lastly, I sliced up the sage and added it in. I didn’t want to cook this completely. I think herbs in general are better when they retain some freshness but I did want the flavor to permeate well.
All the ingredients were combined, dry ones first, in a standing mixer.
Using the hook attachment it was mixed for 15 minutes. This assumed that 5 minutes is what it would take to combine the ingredients and the other 10 minutes provided the dough with much needed kneading.
Once the 15 minutes were over, the dough was removed, covered tightly in plastic wrap and allowed to rest. Mine rested for a few hours but 30 minutes should be sufficient. The dough produced was quite soft and elastic. Pasta dough, though relatively dense, should no be hard.
The dough was divided in to 8 sections. The sections not actively in use, were kept covered to keep from drying out.
Each section was thoroughly coated in flour and run through the pasta roller starting at the thickest setting and progressing one by one through each thickness until as thin as your machine will go. Reflouring was needed about half way through.
The dough was then laid out on wooden cutting board. This turned out to be important as the softer wood allowed the stamp to cut through the dough. The wooden cutting board is also good in that it traps the flour better and creates a surface that the pasta dough does not readily stick to. If you’re using a ravioli mold or other methods you may not need the softer surface.
I used a 1/2 tablespoon (25mm) sized scooper for each ravioli and arranged the filling in a grid with roughly 1 inch between them over half of the rolled dough. The remaining dough was then folded to cover the filling.
Because the filling creates a mound, the upper layer of dough must be stretched gently. The dough was pulled closed around each mound by pressing down gently with my fingers to create a seal. It’s important while doing this to push out the air. This reduces the change of the ravioli bursting while cooking.
Once each mound was sealed, they were all stamped out using a square stamper like the one in the picture and placed on a board. I recommend if you’re using plastic, cover the board in plastic wrap and then a layer of flour. The flour alone doesn’t eliminate the sticking enough. Over time, the flour on a plastic board absorbs moisture, especially in the freezer, and creates a nice glue for your ravioli. The plastic wrap really helps here, though honestly I couldn’t tell you why.
When you run out of room on the first layer of ravioli, you can cover them in more flour (I switched to semolina at this point as I felt it was easier to brush off later) and place another sheet of plastic wrap and flour and layer more on top. The idea here is to layers them well enough that they can freeze flat but not require every square inch of space in your freezer.
Finally, freeze them for 3 hours or overnight before transferring them into a storage container. Keep in the freezer until ready to cook. They will keep for months like this.
Cooking and Plating
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. The more water, the longer it takes and the lower the chance of them sticking together. I’ve done it with 6 quarts and with 2. It depends on how much you want to watch it.
While the water is coming to a boil, toast your pine nuts on a dry skillet and set aside.
In the same skillet melt you butter over medium heat. Add the sage and let it infuse the butter with flavor. The tricky part here is finding the right time to add the sage so that the butter has time to get a little brown before the sage is completely charred. This will depend on your heat but it’s also why I recommend not using high heat here. Melt the butter, give it a little time to cook, and then add the sage.
Do NOT defrost the ravioli. While frozen they are very easy to handle. Simply brush the excess flour from each and throw them into the boiling water.
Cook until they float and the dough is consistently cooked through. If the dough looks like it’s all one color, they’re done. If they float but the dough seems a bit splotchy, give it another couple minutes.
Strain the ravioli, plate it, drizzle the butter and sage over the top, and scatter the pine nuts. As additional toppings I recommend adding some grated Parmesan or some grated cured egg yolk.
Ok so I have a confession to make. My butternut squash puree was mostly pumpkin. The good news is that the butternut squash would be actually even better because it’s sweeter and more flavorful than the pumpkin. That said, this whole dish was phenomenal. If you’re feeling the first chills of the year to are deep into winter, this is sure to warm you right up.
I'm a baking addict with a history of messing around in a lab. Science, an intense interest in food and flavor, and creative genes! Thus, Exploratory Kitchen was born! A scientific approach to producing delicious and customizable foods with the aim to understand the ingredients and not just follow the recipe.
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