Unimaginable as it may be, this month begins my tenth year as the Seasonal Flavors writer. In honor of this, I decided to revisit my first recipe: ravioli.
The thing about cooking, as with most things in life, is that you learn as you grow older. At least that’s the theory. We all know people for whom this is not true, and we should just feel sorry for them.
I’ve learned a thing or two about ravioli that I’m happy to share here. The first is the use of type oo flour. I’ve made ravioli successfully with all-purpose flour, but it’s even better with this very finely milled Italian flour that allows for dough elasticity. It’s wonderful for pizza and I’ve mentioned it in this column before. But now I use it for ravioli, too, making a dough that is easy to work with, stretching to accommodate the filling. The second thing I’ve learned is to use my standing mixer to knead the dough. Yes, I’ve done it by hand and that is fine. No problem. But my family has grown by ten people in the last ten years. I make ravioli as one of the holiday dishes and that’s a lot of ravioli! So, I learned to use the mixer and that has saved a lot of time. The third thing I learned is not to rush things by skipping the “rest” time. The dough needs to rest in order to form the gluten, contributing to the “stretchiness” and making it less likely to tear as you roll it thinner and thinner.
My first recipe used a cheese/mushroom filling. I’ve also made ravioli with pumpkin sage filling. It’s a nice change, and, yes, canned pumpkin is available year round, not just in the autumn.
I still maintain that ravioli is savored best as a small plate of food, served prior to a meat or fish entrée. This recipe will make a dozen or so, and you can expand to serve your number of guests.
Pumpkin Sage Ravioli
For the dough:
- 2/3 cup type oo flour
- 1 large egg
For the filling:
- 1 cup canned pumpkin
- 1 egg
- ½ tsp ground sage
For the sauce:
- ½ cup butter
- ½ cup toasted walnuts
- Fresh sage leaves (optional)
Prepare the filling first by beating the egg, then adding the pumpkin and sage; refrigerate it until your dough is ready. A cold filling is easier to handle and makes filling the pasta easier.
Add the egg to the flour and mix to blend (with your hands or using the dough hook on a standing mixer). Once the egg is incorporated, knead for ten minutes. If using the mixer, stop and scrape the bowl periodically to ensure that all the flour is included. Now wrap the dough ball in plastic and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. I use a ziplock bag that I wash and reuse. Please, if you’re going to use plastic, wash and reuse it.
Roll the dough by hand or use a rotary pasta maker. Start with the widest setting, putting the dough through twice, and work down setting by setting until you arrive at the thinnest.
I have a handy gadget that cuts and seals the ravioli, but you can also form by hand. To do so, spread the sheet of dough onto a flat surface and add a teaspoon of filling every three inches, cover with a second sheet of dough, cut the ravioli into 2×2 inch squares and crimp the edges together using a fork.
Next prepare the sauce by melting the butter in a small skillet, adding the nuts and sage. Keep warm till the pasta is ready.
Add the ravioli to boiling salted water and cook for five minutes (fresh, thin pasta cooks in a flash).
I usually make my ravioli ahead of time and freeze it. Still, it only takes five minutes of boiling to achieve that perfect al dente bite. Drizzle sauce over the ravioli and serve immediately. Always make the guests wait for the pasta; never make the pasta wait for the guests.