I find that there is something relaxing and soothing about making pasta by hand. I’m not Italian (but sometimes think I should have been), and making my own pasta is my way of channeling my inner Italian grandmother.
Ever since we planned our February Boston trip, I had been looking forward to the butternut squash ravioli and pumpkin tortellini from Giacomo’s in the North End. The thing is, when we had to cancel our Boston trip, my ravioli cravings only got stronger. I figured making my own ravioli was my only choice.
Instead of trying to duplicate the dishes I’ve had at Giacomo’s, I decided to use the flavor combinations as inspiration but make a dish of my own. I started out with some homemade ricotta cheese (thanks to Jennifer Perillo of In Jennie’s Kitchen) and used some pumpkin I had stockpiled in my pantry to make my own creamy ravioli filling.
I was thrilled with how the ravioli turned out. I served it in a brown butter sauce with some crispy sage leaves and Parmesan shavings on top. The butternut squash ravioli at Giacomo’s is served with asparagus in the sauce, so I decided to prepare some fresh asparagus to go with the ravioli. It was a big hit with my hubby, too. I’m glad I have some of the extras stashed in the freezer for another night!
Pumpkin Ricotta Ravioli with Brown Butter and Sage
For the pasta dough:
- 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup hot boiling water
For the filling:
- 1 batch homemade ricotta cheese (about 2 cups)
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- Freshly grated nutmeg
For the sauce (to dress about 1/3 of the ravioli):
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 10 sage leaves (plus additional for garnish, if desired), chopped
- 1/2 cup of half and half
- Kosher salt
- Parmesan shavings
To prepare the pasta dough, start measure out the flour and the salt on a clean surface (my granite counter works great). Make a well in the center and add the eggs. Use your fingertips to break up the egg yolks and gently mix in the flour until the mixture is crumbly and resembles sand. Gradually add the hot water, a few drips at a time, carefully working it into the flour mixture until a dough forms (be careful not to burn yourself!). Knead the dough for about 6-8 minutes, until smooth. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap, and let rest for at least 30 minutes (or refrigerate up to 24 hours).
While the pasta dough rests, combine the ricotta, pumpkin, egg, Kosher salt, and some freshly ground nugmeg in a mixing bowl. Set aside. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicon mat and lightly flour.
Once the dough has rested, use a pasta machine (or if you’re brave and strong, a rolling pin) to roll the pasta out into wide sheets. Place tablespoons of the filling on the dough, and top with another sheet of pasta dough.
Seal the edges around the filling and cut into ravioli. I used a ravioli maker (similar to this one) to do this, which makes the job much easier (and also yields pretty, perfectly shaped ravioli). Place the ravioli on the prepared baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to prepare.
To prepare the ravioli, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil for about 10 minutes, in batches, pushing the ravioli back down into the boiling water with a wooden spoon as it floats to the top. Drain the ravioli and set aside.
Meanwhile, brown the butter in a large skillet. Add the sage and cook for a few extra minutes. (You can also crisp up some sage leaves in the butter for garnish, if you like.)
Add the half and half, and stir until a sauce forms. Transfer the ravioli to the pan and toss in the sauce. Serve immediately topped with some shaved Parmesan cheese (with asparagus, if you please).
Note – I only prepared one third of the ravioli, and I froze two thirds of the batch in bags so that we can have ravioli again later! To freeze, simply place the baking sheet of ravioli in the freezer until frozen. Once the ravioli are frozen, transfer to ziplock bags (it helps to label them with the ravioli flavor in case you make multiple varieties) and return to the freezer!