Sunday, October 15, 2006

Ravioli in the Rye - WHB

We are going a bit nuts with this whole grain mania around here.

All manner of berries and whole grain flours are being consumed with abandon.

But we finally came to a crisis the other day.

I had promised to make some ravioli. I make a passable pasta dough, usually with semolina flour and water. Sometimes adding eggs. It holds, and ravioli results.

I often make this with a spinach and ricotta cheese filling. But spinach has been killing people lately, so we decided to avoid the spinach and go seasonal.

Roasted pumpkin and ricotta filled ravioli. With sage. In a brown butter sage sauce. For this edition of , sponsored this week by Sher of

We started roasting pumpkins a few years ago, after the kids became older and found many of the Halloween traditions to be a bit beneath them. No time to carve pumpkins, no interest in going around and collecting candy. A party with friends has taken precedence. Fine with me, as it is in any event safer to be at a friend’s house rather than walking the streets. Plus, who needs all that sugar?!

So we roasted the pumpkins. After all, they are just squashes. Really nothing special. You could just as well carve up a butternut squash instead of a pumpkin for Halloween.

We look for pumpkins, called sugar pumpkins, that are specially grown to be eaten. I am a bit concerned the pumpkins intended for carving may have higher doses of pesticides than the eating ones. These sugar pumpkins are small, smaller than a basketball, maybe 3 pounds at the most. Perfect size for a pie, or for stuffing some ravioli!

Oddly enough, both kids love the roasted pumpkin raviolis. The first time I made them, they were skeptical, but the flavor, when combined with the ricotta, is really delicious. Very earthy. With that beautifully intoxicating caramelized roasted flavor.

The crisis came about as I wanted to make the pasta dough.

I have mentioned lately that we are apparently off white flour. Whole grains only. OK. But whole wheat pasta seemed too sweet a flavor for the earthy pumpkin filling.

So I hunted on the Internet for alternatives. I found few. Mainly for buckwheat, popular in the northern mountain region of Italy. But I had no buckwheat flour. So I decided to invent my own rye flour pasta. I found no mention of rye flour pasta on the Internet, although I am sure it has been done before. It seemed to me that the bite of the rye would go perfectly with the roasted pumpkin and sage flavors.

My procedure was that same as for any pasta dough, mixing the rye flour and lukewarm water by hand, with the exception that I added two eggs. For one, I wanted to make sure the dough held together, and secondly, I wanted a rich result, again to complement the roasted flavors. Also, to hedge my bet, I kneaded the dough on a board dusted with white flour.

After 15 minutes of kneading, what came out was a beautiful pasta dough. I let it sit for an hour, and was able to roll it out till it was see through thin. 84 raviolis later, we tested one in the water. Worked fine!

A quick simmer, a toss in browned butter and sage, some fresh ground pepper and a sprinkle of parmesan. Fantastic fall flavors!

Rye Ravioli with Sage Roasted Pumpkin in Sage Butter Sauce
Recipe by surfindaave
Makes 8 servings

1 sugar pumpkin (3 pounds or so)
32 ounces of fresh ricotta cheese
1 cup grated parmesan
2 cloves garlic, peeled
salt, pepper
10 sage leaves, chopped
olive oil
2 cups of rye flour
1 cup of whole wheat flour
2 eggs
2 sticks unsalted butter
fresh sage leaves
parmesan cheese, grated
fresh ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 425ºF.

Make the filling:
Cut the pumpkin into sections. Remove all the seeds and inner membrane. Peel the pumpkin sections. Cut the sections into 1 inch pieces. In a bowl, toss the pumpkin with some olive oil and the chopped sage leaves. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and roast for 45 to 60 minutes, until tender and well browned in places. Remove from oven and let cool.

When the pumpkin is cooled, combine roasted pumpkin (including all the sage leaves), ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, garlic cloves, and some salt and pepper in a food processor, and puree until very smooth. Reserve.

Make the pasta dough:
In a large bowl, combine the flours and salt. Have 1 cup of lukewarm water ready. Make a well in the center of the flour, and crack the eggs into it. With your hand, begin mixing the egg into the flour. As the egg is completely incorporated, begin adding some water, a little at a time, combining with your hand. Add just enough water so that the dough comes together and incorporates all the flour. The dough should be pliable, not too firm.

Transfer the dough ball to a lightly floured board. Knead the dough, dusting with additional flour as necessary, for a good 15 minutes. The dough should be elastic in nature, and not too firm. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and chill for 1 hour.

Remove the dough from the fridge, and divide into 6 equal sized balls. Work with one ball at a time, keeping the other balls wrapped in plastic wrap.

On a floured board, roll out the ball of dough until it is very thin, and about 12 inches by 24 inches in size.

At this point, you can either use a long ruler to measure and cut the dough into neat, even squares (say 2 ½ inches square), or just go with a more free hand design. If it is just for us, I go free hand, as I like the varied shapes of the resulting ravioili. Also, I use the fold over technique: i.e. I cut rectangles twice as long as they are wide, place some filling in the center, and fold the one side up over the filling, and seal it on three sides, the forth side being the fold. Alternatively, you can cut matching pairs of dough and try to place one square exactly over the other. This takes much longer, and takes a steadier hand that I have to get good results.

Based on your technique, place teaspoon sized amounts of filling on the dough at appropriate intervals. Brush the dough edges with a little water. Fold dough over and seal, or place dough squares on top and seal well. Place the finished raviolis on well floured pieces of wax paper. Repeat this for the remaining 5 balls of dough. I got 84 (2 1/2) inch square raviolis out of this, along with some excees dough trimmings. Let them dry slightly.

In a small skillet, heat the butter and chopped sage over medium low heat, stirring, until the butter just begins to brown. Don’t let it burn!

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, and turn down the heat. Cook the raviolis, without letting the water boil, until they float to the surface for a few minutes. Drain well. Place in serving dishes and drizzle with a little of the brown butter sauce. Sprinkle with some grated parmesan and fresh ground pepper. Serve. Enjoy!

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Blogger Kalyn said...

Sounds very interesting. I don't eat white flour either, so this is perfect for me. (That is, if I ever get ambitious enough to make my own ravioli. That would be after I quit teaching school and had time to breathe!)

I like the tip about the sugar pumpkins. The big ones are just too much pumpkin, but I do like to cook with it a little at this time of year.

5:57 AM  
Blogger Brilynn said...

I've only started cooking with sage recently and I really like it, this sounds delicious!

9:51 AM  
Blogger surfindaave said...

Kalyn, Brilynn,

Thanks! The ravioli is a lot of work, no question. But absolutely worth it!

Roasted pumpkin and sage works very well together. A very nice combination.

12:08 AM  
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