Saturday, January 10, 2009

Butternut Squash, Sage, and Goat Cheese Ravioli with Hazelnut-Brown Butter Sauce (Page 236)


  • Date: Monday, December 29, 2008 -- 7pm
  • Location: Westerville, OH
  • Kitchen: Karen and Dave's House
  • Fellow Chef: Matty
  • Dining Companions: Brad, Deniz, Wes, Karen H, and Dave
  • Recipe Rating: A-

This recipe came off the list generated by the random number generator. To make these ravioli I started by preparing the filling. I split and seeded a butternut squash and then roasted it in a hot oven until very tender. Then my special gentleman scooped the flesh of the squash out of its skin and mashed it with a fork until smooth. Meanwhile, I cooked onion, sage, salt, pepper, and garlic in butter, then added it to the squash. To finish the filling I added some grated aged goat cheese and seasoned it with more salt and pepper. Instead of calling for homemade pasta, this recipe instead called for wonton wrappers. So, using the wonton wrappers, I formed about 30 large ravioli, being careful not to trap much air inside the ravioli with the filling. I cooked the ravioli in gently boiling water until tender, then topped them with a sauce consisting of chopped hazelnuts cooked in brown butter and seasoned with salt and pepper. I admit, I didn't have tremendously high hopes for this recipe. I usually am not a fan of the wonton wrapper substitution for fresh pasta. Yes, it makes ravioli much faster to prepare, but the wonton wrappers can sometimes have a bad (often slimy) texture when boiled. In this case, though, I had no such issues. The ravioli were quite delicious, and they held together well when boiled. The filling was flavorful and smooth (Note: whenever you are seasoning ravioli filling, it is important to be generous with the salt to bring out the flavors of the filling. If the filling is even the slightest bit bland, when it is paired with the pasta the ravioli will seem terribly bland. You really want your filling to pop in order to get flavorful ravioli). I loved the squash and goat cheese pairing, and the sage was a nice complement without being overwhelming. To top it all off, the hazelnut brown butter sauce was rich, but mild in flavor, which worked quite well with the dish. I am sure these ravioli would have been even better with homemade pasta, but as they were, I was very happy with them. For filled pasta, this was a relatively quick recipe, which everyone seemed to enjoy.

Here is the recipe.

Every time I make ravioli I think of culinary school. One of the many skills we were responsible for learning was making fresh pasta, including a variety of filled pastas. This included ravioli. For our final practicum, at the end of our training, each person picked a card listing some dish and had to then go to the kitchen and prepare it to be presented to a panel for critique and grading. From talking to students in previous years, we had some ideas of the various dishes that tended to appear on cards. One of them, seemingly every term, was to make ravioli with three different fillings and two different sauces. Many people in my class were hoping to pull that card, as that was much easier than a lot of the alternatives! The person who did get that card was a woman in her twenties who, when we studied pasta in class, had prepared another type of fresh pasta, but not any ravioli. Most of us who hadn't done ravioli in class had practiced at home just to make sure we knew how to do it. But this student had decided it looked easy, and hadn't bothered. Indeed ravioli-making isn't too hard, but there is one thing that can go terribly wrong: your ravioli can burst in the cooking water. Three things contribute to this disaster: one, you may have gotten too much air in your ravioli, or two, you may not have sealed them well enough, or three, your water may have been boiling too hard. It is very important to squeeze out the air, seal them tightly, and cook them in gently simmering water. I don't know which of those things this woman did wrong ( I was busy working on my own final practicum recipe and not paying much attention to anyone else!) but essentially all of her ravioli burst, emptying their contents into the huge pot of boiling water and leaving behind only the pasta shells. Final practicum rules dictate that you aren't allowed to redo things you mess up, so she had to serve her empty pasta shells and the few intact ravioli to the panel. I felt more than a little bad for her! Now I am always very careful when filling and cooking my ravioli to not have a similar such disaster.

1 comment:

Ryan said...

Those look lovely! Now I want ravioli for dinner!