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