Squash Ravioli with Sage-Brown Butter


I started writing this post full of noble intentions: ” Today, i shall convince my beloved readers they NEED a pasta machine! “ That’s before i realized it was pointless because in fact – it’s exactly the other way around! Let me tell you instead why there’s a pasta machine out there who needs YOU.

Large numbers of pasta machines suffer from a lack of love. Some collect dust on the shelves of kitchen equipment stores while others have been stuck in kitchen cabinets for decades. Many have missing limbs, some have rusty joints. Many more aren’t even recognized by their owners who still think it must be some kind of device for ironing socks. All they want really is somebody who holds their hand-le.

And if your approach to pasta so far has been “why bother if it comes in a box”, this Squash Ravioli with Sage-Brown Butter will be a real eye opener. Making it a week-end project will open-up the doors of pasta perception. It’s as liberating as running naked on an egg noodle colored beach. Let me summarize all this goodness for you…

  1. Fresh pasta kicks ass, i just hope it’s not mine
  2. Making pasta is fun, like play-doh..
  3. Making pasta is easy, it’s being a smart-ass that’s hard
  4. Your pasta machine needs a hug, (guys, going any *further* than a hug is not recommended)
  5. Pasta machines can iron your socks too (just not on the fettucine setting)

This is the pasta machine i use and love. They also make attachments for your Kitchenaid. The good ol’ rolling pin is also an option and a good work-out.

This is going to be a long, painful, step by step post but i included lots of pictures so you don’t fall asleep. Are you ready?

First a quick note about the flour: This recipe uses 00 type flour. It is not – like James Bond – a license to kill. Doppio zero is a highly refined flour that is talcum-powder soft and particulary suitable for making pasta. Check at your local Italian grocery store or order it online.

Squash Ravioli with Sage-Brown Butter
(serves 4 to 6)

For the filling:

  • 1 large butternut squash (about 3lbs)
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 8 sage leaves
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmegiano-Reggiano
  • salt & black pepper to taste
For the Ravioli pasta:

  • 6 cups “00″ flour, plus more for dusting work surface
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 whole eggs
  • 5 yolks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons water

For finishing the dish:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • a dozen small leaves of sage
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmegiano-Reggiano or Grana Sardo
  • black pepper
  • a few amaretti cookies, crushed (optional)

  • Preheat the oven to 375′F. Cut the butternut squash in half, scoop out the seeds and season generously with salt and black pepper. Lay on a baking tray (cut side up) and bake for about 1 1/2 hour, or until very soft.

  • Meanwhile, combine the “00″ flour, the salt, the eggs, yolks and olive oil in a Kitchenaid bowl and combine on low speed using the dough hook (this also could be done by hand in a large bowl). Increase the speed until you get a rough dough. This should take 1 or 2 minutes.

  • When the mixture comes together transfer to a floured clean surface and knead the dough, turning the inside-out, until you obtain a dough that’s smooth on the outside, adding flour everytime the dough starts to feel sticky. The whole process should take less than 5 minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

  • When the squash is ready, discard the water that has accumulated in the cavity and scoop out the meat. Place this glorious orange deliciousness in the bowl of a food processor without burning your delicate little fingers. Discard the skins.

  • Add the egg to the squash in the food processor. In a small saucepan cook the butter until it turns golden brown (beurre noisette) and quickly add the sage leaves and the heavy cream, boil for 1 minute and pour the hot mixture on top of the squash and the egg. Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and process until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place in the refrigerator until completely cool.

  • If your squash filling doesn’t look like the picture above, you screwed-up big time along the way. Banging your head against the wall will not help! Common mistakes include throwing the squash, skin, seeds and all in the food processor and/or adding the egg without cracking the shell. May God help you!

  • Time to start on the ravioli. Take the dough out from the fridge and place it on a floured surface. Cut it in 4 equal pieces. With a rolling pin make rectangle with the pieces of dough, so that they fit inside your pasta machine.

  • Start rolling pasta sheets on the thickest setting and cut in half (so it doesn’t get too long). Keep rolling reducing the setting everytime. The number “8″ setting on this machines is where i usually stop.

  • You should be able to see your hand through the pasta sheets when you have reached the right thickness. You want it thin but not so thin that it becomes fragile. You’ll get the hang of it eventually. I believe in you. No really, i do!

  • I included this picture just to show you how well i can fold stuff. I know, i’m such a show-off. Well, it also gives you an idea about the thickeness but really, it’s more about showing-off than anything else.

  • Now for the fun part. Make an egg wash by beating an egg with a tablespoon of water. Cut sheets of pasta so they have about the same length and lay them on a floured surface. Place blops of squash filling at regular intervals using a pastry bag or a revolutionary new-age piece of equipment called… err.. a spoon. Using a pastry brush, sweep some egg wash over the edges of the pasta and in-between each ravioli and down the center. Pick up another sheet of pasta and place on top, sealing the gaps between the filling by pressing gently with your fingers.

  • Using a pasta-cutter, pastry cutter or whatever-the-heck-you-want cutter, make pretty shapes. Because pretty is important around here. Make sure each ravioli is sealed by pressing gently around the edges with your fingers. At this point, the ravioli can be frozen to be used at a later time. Make sure not to store them on top of each other, flour them nicely and separate them with layers of wax paper.

  • When ready to serve the dish, bring a big pot of salted water to a rolling boil and drop the ravioli in the water without crowding the pot too much. You have to act quickly now because the fresh ravioli doesn’t take more than 2 minutes to cook… scroll down.. quick…quick…

  • Melt the butter in large pan and make a light-colored brown butter. Add the sage and continue cooking for 15 more seconds. Crack some fresh black pepper in the mixture and set aside. Remove the ravioli from the pot with a spider or slotted spoon (they should be floating at the surface at this point) and add to the sage brown-butter along with 3 tablespoons of the pasta water. Coat the sauce evenly over the ravioli. The starchy pasta water will help make the liaison.

  • It’s time to bring-out the Big Dog. The block of Parmegiano-Reggiano or in this case, a Grana Padano. Divide the pasta into individual bowls and liberally grate some cheese over each portion.

  • If you have them, crumble some Amaretti cookies over each pasta for added crunch and complexity, just like it’s done in some parts of Italy. That’s the kind of touch that will earn you the title of ‘kitchen wizard’ among your friends. It’s okay, you’ll thank me later.

  • Boy, i can’t even begin to tell you how good this was. Try it for yourself and let me know what you think. Pfeww.. that was a long-ass post. I need a drink… and some ravioli!

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  • Peter M

    Zen, I’m been on a search for a pasta machine for a couple of weeks and your endorsement of this model is swaying me. Now a sampling of your lovely ravioli would cement my decision…VITE!

  • Anonymous

    OK, I dug out my pasta machine, the butternuts are in the oven, the sage outside is not frozen yet, so this is dinner tonight. Unfortunately, there is no 00 to be found in this one-store town, so I will have to use regular. I’ll make sure to get some at the Italian store when we go up to Chicago for Thanksgiving next week.

    If you see me on for several hours today, it’s because I don’t have a laptop to bring in to the kitchen with me, so I will have to keep going into the laundry room to check the computer!

    This is going to be GOOOOOD….

    ~ Peggasus

  • glamah16

    You torture me so with all this delectable goodness. I need a pasta maker.

  • Emily

    Yum, yum, yum. WOW!!!!!!

  • farida

    Looks yummy! And I can taste the taste from the screen:)

  • Maris

    Everything about this ravioli sounds fantastic! I wish I could make fresh pasta – I never have but am more and more tempted to give it a try!

  • Peabody

    One of my most favorite dishes out there. Yours looks lovely.

  • Andrew

    BRAVO man! Just did a test run on the pasta for tonight and everything is awesome! Thanks again. It’s amazing how a little filling is almost better for each one.

  • Zach Bjorn

    These are winners, Zen. Best of three different butternut squash ravioli recipes I’ve tried. I made about 100 raviolis on Christmas day for the family and they all loved them. Cheers to my first time making one of your recipes on a holiday without a visit from the fire department :) . -Zach