Thursday, 8 May 2014

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage Butter and Pine Nuts

Oh blimey. Has it really been that long? 10 months is pretty shocking, I do apologise. If anyone's still reading, I bet you thought I'd sneakily transitioned from blogger to ex-blogger. Lots has been going on though. I had one of the busiest work years in a long time from about last summer onwards (so, around the time I last blogged then) which stole much of my free time and weekends, and meant that I barely had time to cook, let alone cook, photograph and write up recipes. I became very familiar with my local Japanese delivery place.

And then I went and moved house, twice. I am no longer a North London girl, but have reverted to my West London roots and moved to Ealing. We've spent much of the last two months doing various things to the house ahead of moving in, but we're in now and gradually working our way through vast amounts of unpacking.  A life without boxes will be a pleasure indeed.

In the midst of all the chaos, I had a few quieter moments when living at my mum's. Quiet enough to have a go at making ravioli. I made a gorgeous crab ravioli with a lemongrass sauce for New Year's (but was far, far too drunk to consider photographing it) and then a month or so later, made this. Roasting the butternut adds a gorgeous earthy sweetness, and the parmesan really pulls it together. This makes a delicious, if not slightly decadent starter. If you want to eat it as a main, either halve the number of people around or double the recipe!

Apologies for the poor quality of the photo - I seem to be in an iPhone-only zone until I remember exactly where I put my cameras...

Ingredients (serves 4 as a starter):
For the pasta:
4 eggs
500g flour

For the filling: 
1 small butternut squash (around 500g peeled weight)
2 tbsp grated parmesan
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

For the sage butter:
Handful of fresh sage leaves
50g butter

To garnish:
1 tbsp toasted pine nuts
Parmesan shavings

It really helps if you can  make the pasta and the pasta filling the day before, but it's not the end of the world if you can't. Just make sure you have plenty of time to chill down your pasta dough after you have made it, and make sure the filling is also cool before you add it to the ravioli.

Anyway, to make the pasta, pour the flour into a bowl and make a hole in the centre to allow the eggs to be dropped into it. Mix the eggs with a fork, taking a little flour from the sides gradually until the eggs and flour are blended. If the mixture is too dry and crumbly add a little lukewarm water. If it is too wet, add a little more flour. Remove the mixture from the bowl and place it on a lightly floured table or worktop. Knead it with your hands until it comes together like a ball of play-dough. Cut the ball into quarters (this gives you a more manageable amount of dough to work with), wrap tightly in cling film and chill down in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Next, make the butternut filling - peel the butternut, remove the seeds and chop into large chunks. Drizzle with olive oil and season with a little salt and pepper. Roast for 45 minutes, until soft. Leave to cool for 10 minutes, then chuck the squash into a food processor or run through a mouli to puree. Stir in the nutmeg and parmesan, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

Next, roll out the pasta. Remove one ball at a time from the fridge (each ball makes about 6 ravioli) and set up your pasta machine. Starting on the widest setting, run the pasta through each size gauge several times, folding over the dough each time, until your pasta has been through the thinnest gauge. Next, set your long, thin pasta sheet down on a lightly floured surface, spoon a teaspoon of the butternut purée at 10cm intervals, and then using a pastry brush, seal around the filling with a little water. Place on top your next sheet of pasta and gently press around the edges of the ravioli to seal the filling in. Repeat these steps until you have 2-3 portions of ravioli per person. Dust with flour and cover with a dry tea towel until ready to cook.

When ready to eat, put a large pan of water on to boil, lightly toast the pine nuts in a dry drying pan, and as the water comes to the boil, melt the butter in a sauce pan. Add the sage leaves to the molten butter and fry until crisp (a couple of minutes at most) then set the saucepan aside. Boil the ravioli for a couple of minutes, before removing from the water and arranging on plates. Distribute the sage butter across the plates, scatter with pine nuts and then finish with a couple of shavings of parmesan on each plate. Fiddly, but delicious!