Butternut Squash with Fresh Pasta - Take 1

I've come to appreciate the work and skill it requires to make stuffed pasta. Making this butternut squash ravioli was intense, and I have learned some valuable lessons about making ravioli. Lessons that I will generously share with you; lessons that I will employ when I try this recipe again. After all, I still have half of my butternut squash filling left to use!

Lesson #1: Make the dish lighter.
The butternut squash got hidden by the pasta and the alfredo sauce. To counteract this, I will make eggless pasta dough (egg pasta had 5 eggs! eek!) and lighten the sauce by using less cream and some sort of thickener (flour or potato starch).

The toasted walnuts complemented the butternut squash filling perfectly. The filling was heartwarming and so delicious.

Lesson #2: Cut pasta into squares and assemble the ravioli individually.
I tried the assembly line method, but I think there is a reason why we have moved out of the industrial age. I laid a large rectangle of pasta on the counter and plopped a teaspoon of filling about 1 inch apart. I wet the pasta down for some adhesive, placed another large rectangle of pasta on top and sealed it into several ravioli squares. The problem came when I wanted to move the ravioli. The liquid had made the pasta adhere to the countertop too! Not good.

The method that works much better is to cut the pasta into squares then add a small amount of butternut squash to the middle of the square.

Then, wet the outer edges with some water using your finger or a brush.

Press the edges down to make a seal that keeps the squash filling inside the pasta. This is tricky. If you add too much squash mixture, then it seeps out the edges, preventing the seal. If you add to little squash mixture the flavor gets lost in the pasta. 

I found that after I sealed one side, I would pick up the ravioli to seal the other sides. That way, I could use gravity to keep the filling away from the side I was sealing and I could make the ravioli filling puff out the pasta more evenly.

My edges were pretty thick. The next time I make this, I will also try to make the seal as small as possible to try to fit in more filling in each ravioli.

Lesson #3: Place finished ravioli on a floured service.
After I finally got the hang of filling these little buggers, I felt fabulous. That is until I tried to move them. The squash filling is moist and so it wets the pasta in the middle of the ravioli...the thinnest part of the pasta. Because it is moist, it sticks to everything! So, be sure your countertop is floured well.

I will not be discouraged, however. I am learning that making fresh pasta takes a bit of practice. So, I have included the recipes I used for this dish, but perhaps you will take them as inspiration rather than fast and true. I'm hoping Take 2 goes much better.

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Alfredo Sauce
Serves at least 4, depending on how many ravioli are destroyed in the assembly (from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman)

Fresh Egg Pasta
1 1/2 cup spelt flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3 egg yolks
  1. Add the flours and salt to the food processor. Pulse a couple of times to mix well.
  2. Add the eggs to the food processor and mix until a dough forms (about 30 seconds). The dough will feel more like leather than the soft dough for bread. It must be fairly stiff in order to roll out well.
  3. Form the dough into a ball, wrap with plastic, and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
  4. Use a pasta roller or a rolling pin to roll out the dough into thin sheets. Working with smaller chunks of dough is easier. 

Butternut Squash Filling
2 cups cooked butternut squash (baking instructions provided below)
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash the butternut squash. Prick holes all over the outside of the squash, especially around the stem. Place in a pan and bake for 45-90 minutes, or until soft. Turn the squash over occasionally during cooking for a more even bake.
  2. Let cool. Scoop out the flesh of the squash and mash well to remove any lumps. A fork works well.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients to the squash and mix until thoroughly combined. 

Alfredo Sauce
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
  1. Melt the butter over medium-low heat in a saucepan.
  2. Stir in the half and half. Gently warm.
  3. Stir in the cheese, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Assembly Instructions
  1. Assemble the ravioli as described above.
  2. Bring a big pot of salted water to boil.
  3. Place ravioli in the boiling water. When ravioli rises to the top, it is done.
  4. Cover cooked ravioli immediately in the alfredo sauce to prevent sticking together.
  5. Serve with toasted walnuts, freshly grated parmesan cheese, and cracked pepper.