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Friday, October 22, 2010

Acorn Squash Ravioli with Cranberry Walnut Sauce

We all have those mountains in life that seem too high, too challenging of a climb. You think to yourself “Look at that mountain! Who would be crazy enough to climb that? Why bother when I have this delicious sandwich right here? I think I’ll just sit here and eat my delicious sandwich. I’ll bet that there aren’t delicious sandwiches on top of that mountain!” Hmm, I seem to have hit a tangent. Let’s get back on track…

Culinary mountains. Those food items that seem just too overwhelming to take on. And usually we have good reason not to attempt these culinary mountains. Why make your own puff pastry when you can buy it in the freezer section? Why make your own donuts when you live across the street from Dunkin’ Donuts? (Or maybe I’m just lucky enough to live in the center of a triangle of D. Do’s) And finally, why bother to mix, roll out and cut up your own pasta? Especially when pasta is seriously, a dollar. Really, sometimes it’s on sale two for a dollar.

We make pasta because we want to fill it with deliciousness. In my attempt to embrace fall, I took on the mountain of making homemade ravioli. And let me say, it was much easier than I thought it would be. The only change I would make, is to buy and use a pasta maker. Pasta dough is a tough item to roll out. It wants to spring back on you, shrinking back into a smaller shape. Work those muscles people, and you will be rewarded with one tasty dinner.

The flavor of the acorn squash is perfectly offset with the spices in the filling. The browned butter plays so well with the sweet cranberries and nutty walnuts. This dish packs major flavor. Set aside several hours to prepare the pasta. You can make them in the morning and cook them later in the night. Just be sure to let the ravioli dry at room temperature, then cover them and put them in the fridge until you are ready to eat. Don’t let the pasta mountain defeat you, you can do this. There might not be tasty sandwiches at the top of this mountain, but there is this…

Acorn Squash Ravioli with Cranberry Walnut Sauce
Pasta adapted from many sources, sauce adapted from Everyday Pasta
Ravioli Filling
½ acorn squash, peeled and cubed
½ cup ricotta
1 tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground ginger
Salt and pepper

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
2 eggs
¼ cup water

5 tbsp butter
1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup walnuts, chopped
Salt and pepper

For the Filling - Heat the oven to 375 F. Toss squash with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 25 minutes. Remove and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl and mash with a potato masher. Add remaining ingredients and mix to combine.

For the Pasta - In a food processor, combine flour and salt. In a small bowl, mix eggs and water, add to the flour, pulsing to combine. Add a little water, a tablespoon at a time, until you form a dough. Remove to the countertop and knead 4 or 5 times. Place in a small bowl and allow to sit for 20 minutes.

Roll out dough on a slightly floured surface to an 1/8-inch thick. Cut out 2-inch circles and place ½ tsp of filling in the middle. Lightly wet the edges and top with a second circle, crimp closed with a fork. Set aside to dry for two hours.

Now that your pasta is ready… Heat a big pot of water to a rolling boil. Add pasta and cook for 15 minutes. In a small saucepan add butter and sage. Heat to medium and cook until butter is slightly browned (about 3 minutes). Turn off the heat and add walnuts, dried cranberries, salt and pepper.

Drain the pasta and add the sauce, toss to coat!

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