Friday, February 19, 2010

Weekend Recipe: Butternut Squash, Sausage and Chevre Ravioli

This recipe is perfect for weekend cooking -- it's simple, delicious and makes enough to freeze for quick weeknight meals later on. It takes a fair amount of time (about 2-3 hours), so it's best for a rainy Sunday afternoon when there's nothing else to do, or to impress dinner guests.  It's simple enough for kids to help -- try cutting out the pasta into shapes with a cookie cutter and letting the kids fill their own special ravioli.

The maple-y sweetness of the roasted squash is a wonderful complement to the savory sausage, and the goat's cheese gives the mixture just enough of a tangy kick. Fresh sage adds another note. It's also easy to make vegetarian -- just leave out the sausage and use more squash and cheese, perhaps including a cup of shredded pecorino. Serve with a browned butter sauce or just tossed with olive oil and cheese, and accompanied by braised fennel and sauteed greens for a lovely winter dinner.

Butternut Squash, Sausage and Chevre Ravioli
serves 10-12

Filling:
The filling can be made a day or two in advance.

1 pound Italian sausage
1-1.5 pound butternut squash
4.5 oz. goat cheese
4 fresh sage leaves

1. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and strings. Brush the cut side with olive oil and place the squash cut-side down on a baking sheet and roast for one hour. Set aside to cool.
2. Brown the sausage in a skillet. If you can't find ground Italian sausage not in casings, just remove the casings from the sausages and chop it up in the pan. Make sure the sausage is completely cooked -- it won't boil in the ravioli long enough to cook later. Set aside to drain and cool.
3. When the sausage and squash are cool enough to handle, place the sausage in a food processor and process until it's quite fine -- about the size of lentils. Place in a bowl and set aside.
4. Put the squash, cheese and sage leaves in the food processor and process until just mixed. Add the sausage and grind until the whole mixture is almost pureed.
5. Refrigerate the filling until you're ready to use it.

For the pasta, you'll make one quantity green and one quantity whole wheat, or two quantities of a single type. You might have a small amount of filling leftover, which is wonderful formed into small patties, breaded and pan-fried. If you want to use all your filling, make three quanitites of pasta and cut your leftover pasta into ribbons and freeze for future use.



Green pasta: 
adapted from The Silver Spoon, Phaedon Press
2 3/4 c white whole wheat flour plus extra for dusting
3 eggs, lightly beaten
generous 1.5 cup spinach, chopped, cooked and well drained
salt
(Chopping the spinach before cooking it is easier than chopping it after cooking. You can just microwave the spinach for a minute or so to cook it quickly. Reserve the liquid you drained and use it to add to the pasta if it's too dry.)

1. Sift the flour and a pinch of salt into your mixer bowl, or into a mound on the counter. Make a well in the center and add the eggs and spinach.
2. Gradually incorporate the flour, then knead for a few minutes. If the spinach is very damp, add more flour, a little at a time. If the dough is too dry, add the liquid drained from the spinach or water, a little at a time.
3. Shape the dough into a ball and let rest for 15 minutes, then roll out on a lightly floured surface or use a pasta machine to make a fairly thick sheet (I went up to setting #4 on my pasta machine -- about the thickness of 3-4 sheets of cardstock). You don't want this too thin or the ravioli will break open when it's boiled. Set the pasta aside on a lightly floured surface (I like to use a cotton flour-sack towel or pastry cloth).

Whole wheat pasta:
adapted from The Silver Spoon, Phaedon Press
2 3/4 c white whole wheat flour plus extra for dusting
3 eggs, lightly beaten
salt
1. Sift the flour and a pinch of salt into your mixer bowl, or into a mound on the counter. Make a well in the center and add the eggs.
2. Gradually incorporate the flour, then knead for 10 minutes. If the dough is very damp, add more flour, a little at a time. If the dough is too dry, add water, a little at a time.
3. Shape the dough into a ball and let rest for 15 minutes, then roll out on a lightly floured surface or use a pasta machine to make a fairly thick sheet (I went up to setting #4 on my pasta machine -- about the thickness of 3-4 sheets of cardstock). You don't want this too thin or the ravioli will break open when it's boiled. Set the pasta aside on a lightly floured surface (I like to use a cotton flour-sack towel or pastry cloth). 

Assembling the ravioli:


1. If you rolled out your pasta in a single sheet, use a pizza cutter or a sharp knife to cut it in half. If you used a pasta machine, make sure you have an even number of pasta sheets (cut one if you need to make an even number).
2. Using a spoon or your fingers (fingers are easier, but messier), drop the filling in little blobs on one sheet of pasta.
 

3. Take another sheet of pasta the same size and place it over the top of the filling. Make sure the edges are more or less lined up.
4. Using your pizza cutter or sharp knife, carefully cut out the ravioli.
 

5. Pinch the edges of each square closed. If you plan to freeze any for later use, lay out on a cookie sheet or in single layers in a freezer container separated by parchment paper. Place in the freezer for a couple of hours before storing in a freezer bag. Pre-freezing the ravioli will keep it from sticking together in the freezer bag.

6. Boil the ravioli for 15-30 minutes. Drain, sprinkle with Parmesan or pecorino cheese, and serve with olive oil or a browned butter and sage sauce.

Browned butter and sage sauce:
1/4 cup butter
8 fresh sage leaves

Melt the butter in a small pan and cook the sage leaves until golden.

4 comments:

  1. it's easier than it looks, but thanks! if i still lived in texas, you could totally come over to help eat all this stuff and we could watch clueless.

    ReplyDelete
  2. yummmm... I just had Italian pasta and ham and cheese for lunch, and this STILL makes me hungry.

    ReplyDelete
  3. do you know how jealous i am of your milan adventure? please eat lots and lots of everything for me. i love italy.

    ReplyDelete

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