Sunday, November 05, 2006

Ravioli di Zucca e Salvia (Pumpkin Sage Ravioli)

Here's another gorgeous, huge Italian pumpkin, of the Neapolitan variety (Zucca di Napoli) That I won't be using in this recipe. It's just that the vegetable looks so much nicer than the can. So if you want to go out and buy pumpkin, saw through it and bake it until it's tender then puree it, be my guest. I'm opening up a can of Pumpkin puree. Anyway, today I've adapted a "The Greens Cookbook" recipe for Winter Squash Ravioli to my own tastes: Canned pumpkin, not fresh squash and a simpler sauce. "The Greens" belongs to the better of 2 general trends in vegetarian cooking. That is to say, they create complex main dishes with only vegetable ingredients. Lots of cheese, lots of beans and lots of work, but the result has been delicious every time I've made something from this book. The other, less desirable general vegetarian trend is the substitution of meat in traditional meat dishes, as in, Thanksgiving Tofurkey with white "meat" and dark "meat" and "giblet" gravy (which, for years, I mistakenly pronounced as Faux Turkey as that name also makes sense), and Mock Duck. If they just called it tofu or seitan, I'd be ok, but the falseness of it reminds me of my traumatic Mystery Meat experiences at the grade-school cafeteria. I just get irrationally queasy at the thought of eating any of this stuff. Anyhoo, so I have a nice, tofu-free pumpkin ravioli recipe for y'all. And as many Italians are dropping the meat dish (il secondo) after the pasta dish (il primo) at least on Tuesday nights, these ravioli along with a green salad, is dinner to me. Here it is:

For pasta:
2 eggs
1/4 cup semolina flour
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp or 2 of water if needed

For filling:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
5 sage leaves, minced
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup grated parmesan or ricotta salata
salt and pepper to taste

For Sauce
butter (amount up to you)
sage leaves, roughly chopped (amount up to you)
chopped walnuts (optional)

To make the dough, place the flours and salt in a medium mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Crack the eggs into the well and lightly mix them with a fork, incorporating the flour little by little, until you have incorporated all the flour. The dough should be very stiff and on the dry side for the best pasta texture. If you cannot incorporate all the flour, add some water drop by drop until everything comes together. Cover and set aside while you make the filling.

To make the filling, heat the oil over medium heat in a medium non-stick frying pan then add the garlic and sage. Cook for maximum 1 minute, don't let the garlic brown, then add the pumpkin and sautee until the pumpkin has dried a bit, 3-4 minutes. Place the mixture in a small bowl and let cool a bit. Add the cheese and combine. Taste for salt and pepper.

To make the ravioli: I've seen a new and improved way of making ravioli. Maria Teresa taught me this:
Set your pasta rolling machine to the widest setting (for me that's setting 1). Cut off a piece of the dough that's roughly the size of 2 decks of cards, mush it as flat as you can between your palms and roll it through the rollers. Dredge in flour and proceed to setting 2 and so forth until you get to setting 6 (the second thinnest). You should have a very very long oval shaped piece of dough. Lay that out and place a generous teaspoon of the filling every 2 inches toward the edge closest to you, then fold over the other side. Press to seal in between the filling making sure to press out any air bubbles, then press along the long seam. Cut pasta into 2-inch squares with a pizza cutter or knife. IF THESE INSTRUCTIONS ARE CONFUSING, TELL ME AND I'LL TRY TO CLARIFY! At this point, ravioli freeze very well and I usually make a few dinners-worth at a time to use later.

Cooking and serving the ravioli:
Set a large pot of water to the boil, and plop in your ravioli in one at a time. Keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pan or you will have empty ravioli and a bunch of pumpkin floating in the water. I've been there and it ain't pretty. Boil until they begin to float and puff at the water's surface, keep them boiling for 90 seconds more then drain.
While you're waiting for the water to boil, melt about 1 tbsp of butter per person over medium heat in a large frying pan or skillet, add about 2 roughly chopped sage leaves per person and fry until it's crisp. Music to skillet fry sage leaves with: "Hot Skillet Mama" by Yochannon and Sun Ra. The butter will now be infused with sage flavor. Remove the sage pieces and when the pasta is done, drain it and add it to the butter. Toss a couple of times to coat and then serve with the crispy sage leaves sprinkled on top and if you want, also some crunchy, chopped walnuts.


Blogger hellomelissa said...

oh, yum. if i thought that anyone at my house would appreciate this dish (other than me) i might just attempt it! another lovely recipe, susan.

3:50 PM  
Blogger Beenzzz said...

YUM! This looks absolutely divine. I must try it!

6:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the ravioli!

And I also love your pumpkin philosophy.

Puree is just fine by me!

12:47 AM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Melissa, You know, tis is something I wouldn't have touched a couple years ago.

Hi Beenzzz, give it a shot and let me know hew it worked.

Hi Ivonne, Thanks for the support!

9:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well that there pumpkin is a real (big) beauty! I'd be willing to try my hand at sawing it, just to be able to say "been there, done that"---I just think that my freezer space would be lacking afterwards.

Tofurkey? Mock Duck? Scary....

12:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a gorgeous pumpkin! And I lovin' the pumpkin + sage mix of the ravioli!

2:16 PM  
Blogger nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

I'm with you. Later for that Tofurkey madness.

7:05 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Rowena, I'd try sawing one if I had a real hankering for pumpkin risotto; you just couldn't use puree for that.

Hi Ellie, Yeah, sage does good things for pumpkin.

Hi Ragazza, It sure is creepy.

To Anybody Out There: I realize I'm dissing a product (Tofurkey) that I've never even tasted, which is unfair. Is there anyone who's ever tried Tofurkey? Planning on serving it for Thanksgiving? Anybody who likes it?

8:17 PM  
Blogger J at said...

My daughter recently went vegitarian, and she (sadly) seems to like all of those fake meat things. haven't tried Tofurky yet, because she didn't really like real turkey to begin with. I'm more of a vegetable type myself, but then again, I also eat meat.

I had that cookbook...loved it, but it got ruined. I'll get another copy soon, I hope. I have made the ravioli using butternut squash, and using won ton wrappers instead of making my own dough, since I don't have a pasta machine and I HATE rolling out dough. The wrappers weren't really thick enough, so they tore when I served it, but it still TASTED really good. ;)

8:36 PM  
Blogger Cherry said...

You do realize that now my day will go by ever more slowly as I watch the clock until I can go home so I can make this lovely dish.

I've done similar recipes with roasted acorn and/or butternut sqaush too, if you don't feel like whipping out the saw to get into the gorgeous pumpkin.

9:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Susan,
they look absolutely wonderful!!! Congratulations!
Did you ever eat the 'tortellacci' di zucca? I believe they're from Parma but I'm not 100% sure, sorry. The special thing about them is that in the filling, other than pumpkin, they have amaretti (the cookies). They are delicious. I tried to make them once but I couldn't get them with such nice shapes like you did :) (they're supposed to be less pretty than tortelli or tortellini but not as ugly as mine were :) ).

1:38 AM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi J, You mentioned something about the "Greens Cookbook" in a previous comment and so basically I owe this recipe to you! It's a great book. If you're looking for veggie Thanksgiving dishes, the site Post-Punk Kitchen has a whole Thanksgiving menu of only vegetable dishes and no Tofurkey!

Hi Cherry, Thanks for visiting!

Hi Chem, I know what you're talking about. I had something like it in Ferrara but they were pretty small and rather nice-looking, so they weren't exactly the same. Have you ever heard of pureeing into the pumpkin a bit of mostarda? My friend Maria Teresa made gorgeous tortellini like that. They were really good.

1:21 PM  
Blogger Lea said...

oh man... pumpkin and sage. I can almost taste it! This looks so incredible!! I love pumpkin so much!! =) Youre making me want to make my pumpkin soup!

3:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Susan,
wow, no, I never heard of zucca e mostarda!! I'm sure it would be wonderful!
I read somewhere that Ferrara had its own version of the tortellacci so probably they make them pretty. Although, as you know for sure, '-acci' means that they must be at least a bit ugly :)

5:19 PM  
Blogger Tracie P. said...

my landlord has a garden and he harvested about 6 whoppin' zucche. they're huge and most of them are green, but there are a couple of the beige ones. he gave me a city-sized slice of a green one (neapolitan? didn't know that! i knew there was a reason i read your site) and i had to cut them into cubes for the freezer. i think i'm going to try the pasta--it looks great and lawd knows i've got enough zucca.

have you ever made pasta con zucca? it's so easy and absolutely delicious. let me know if you want the recipe.

9:49 AM  
Blogger Tracie P. said...

by the way, it's really easy to tackle one of them thar hunks of squash. just put it (flat side down) on a cutting board, cut the skin off by running the knife parallel to the sides. go around the squash until you've taken all the skin. now there's no sawing required, it's easy to cut through the flesh.

come on susan, you make home-made pasta! this is so much easier :)

9:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aha! I used to buy the pumpkin and sage ravioli in Lina Stores in Soho, London, and this makes me miss them so much I may have to make them. I seem to remember someone telling me that a secret ingredient is squashed up amaretti biscuits, for a bit of bulk and a mysterious je ne sais quoi - which I suppose would be a mysterious non so!

11:13 AM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Tracie, Bring on the "pasta con zucca' recipe, woman! So now, once they've sawed off a hunk o' pumpkin for you at the market, how do you bake it so that it becomes tender and not dry? I used to do this with acorn squash so the only exposed part was the skin, so no prob. But I bought and baked pumpkin here once and it all dried out.

Hi June, Yep. You can get such great food in London! Evidently the traditional tortllini di zucca also have amaretti crumbs. Italian "mostarda" is also a nice, sweet addition.

1:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:12 PM  
Blogger jane said...

thanks so much for this recipe! i made it last night and one of my friends said it was "the best pasta EVER"!!!!


4:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many people does this recipe serve? Or how many ravioli does it make?

Can wait to serve this.

2:46 AM  

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