Holy. Shit. These homemade butternut squash ravioli in brown butter sage sauce may seriously be the best things I’ve ever made. So much so, that I hadn’t planned to blog about this until next week, but after tasting them I just couldn’t help myself. And I gotta tell ya, I really didn’t have high hopes for these puppies.
First of all, I’ve never made ravioli from scratch and expected a total disaster. Which almost happened. Oh don’t you worry – you’ll see plenty in this post of me getting ready to climb up to the roof and take a swan dive, figuring it’d be easier to just end it all than try to finish this recipe.
BUT, I saved myself and kept on going. (Plus I realized my house isn’t high enough and I’d probably only just break something. That would suck.) But finishing this perfect-for-fall, fresh vegetarian recipe was worth it in the end. Oh, was it worth it in the end.
They were so good, that after the first two bites I looked at my husband and yelled, “I wish someone were here to witness these!!” To which he replied, “Um, I’m here, remember?” But it’s not the same, I tell him. He’s supposed to back me up. When I tell people I made these, even if they tasted like little butternut bricks of crap, he’s supposed to chime in with “Oh, MAN were they good.” And it would be our little secret that they were the shittiest things I ever concocted.
(Just kidding – I think you know by now I’d tell you if they sucked.) But these guys?? Man, I wish you were all at my dinner table tonight. But you can re-create it, and I am here to help.
If it’s your first time making homemade pasta, don’t worry – I will break it down for you. It’s easier than you think, and you don’t need a pasta maker (I didn’t use one.) You will, however, need a food processor. The brown butter sage sauce is maybe the easiest and tastiest sauce I ever made, and I guarantee you’ll want to use it on other recipes in the future.
And the deliciously flavorful butternut squash ravioli filling? You’ll whip it up in no time. I will hold your hand and make sure you don’t jump. We’ll be fine, I promise. Here we go.
For the pasta:
- 4 eggs (+1 for later)
- salt and pepper
- drop of extra virgin olive oil
- (seriously, that’s it)
For the butternut squash filling:
- 2 small to medium sized butternut squash
- 1 15 oz container of fresh ricotta
- 3 tbsp Pecorino Romano grated cheese (OR, if you are lucky enough to find it, get the Cinnamon Toscana cheese from Trader Joe’s)
- 4 amaretti cookies (Amaretti Cookies Snaps 7 oz Lazzaroni)
For the brown butter sage sauce:
- 1 stick butter
- a handful of fresh sage leaves
Step 1: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Now, prepare your butternut squash. Cut off the very top and bottom parts of your butternut squash to give it a flat surface. Then stand it up, and begin to cut it right down the middle to get two halves.
(*Tip: cutting winter squash can be quite a workout. One of my readers claims she inserts her knife, then uses a hammer to gently tap the knife down through the squash.
Step 2: Now we are going to get ready to bake your butternuts. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds from the centers. Next, lay them all face up on a cookie sheet, and lightly season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, bake for 40 minutes, then set aside and allow to cool. You’ll know they are done when you can go right through them with your spoon.
(Of course you don’t want the tops of your butternut squash to go to waste, so go ahead and make hats for your sous chefs):
I call this one “Unamused Feline Does Not Care for My Antics”:
Step 3: While your squash is baking, it’s time to make your fresh homemade ravioli. Crack your 4 eggs into the food processor, along with 4 heaping tablespoons of flour (or, as my favorite chef Fabio calls them, “Italian spoonfuls.”) Add a pinch of salt and pepper, and a small drizzle of olive oil, and turn on the processor for about 30 seconds.
Turn the processor off and check the dough by squeezing it. If it sticks to your hands, you need more flour. Add 3 more Italian spoonfuls, and blend again for 30 seconds. By this point your dough should have formed a ball in the food processor, and when you touch it now, it shouldn’t stick to your hands. Once you get to this stage, your dough is ready.
Step 4: Lightly dust a clean surface with flour. (Keep the flour close by so you can add a little if necessary.) Break your dough apart and shape it into 6 oblong rounds, like this:
Now, using a rolling pin, roll each ball out one by one into thin long strips. If the rolling pin sticks to the dough, add a tiny bit of flour to the dough as necessary. Your dough strips certainly don’t have to be perfect.
You want to prevent the dough from drying/cracking after you roll it out into the strips. I like to use slightly damp paper towels, and stack the strips in between. You can see what I mean in the picture below:
Step 5: By now your butternut squash should be cooled down a bit, so you can prepare your filling. Scoop out the soft flesh of the squash and place in a large bowl.
Then add a pinch of salt, a pinch of pepper, the fresh ricotta, pecorino romano, and the crushed amaretti (or macaroon) cookies. (Crumble the cookies with your hand. Why? Because that’s the way the cookie crumbles. And you thought you already added the cheese.) Mix all ingredients together with a spoon.
Here’s the amaretti cookies I used:
At this point, put a pot of salted water on the stove on medium heat.
Step 6: Now, get ready to fill your raviolis. Beat the last egg in a small bowl and “paint” it on the ravioli strips (known as an “egg wash”):
Then, on half or the strips of dough, place about 3/4 tablespoon of filling about an inch apart, and then cover with another strip of dough. Press down gently in between the fillings to get out any air bubbles. Lightly dust with flour.
Step 7: Here’s where I decided to get cute, which almost prompted me to jump off the roof. I remembered I had these little cookie cutters for fall, in the shapes of leaves, pumpkins, apples, etc. and a light bulb went off. Wouldn’t it be so stinkin cute if, instead of the traditional circles or squares, I could make the ravioli pumpkin-shaped? Wouldn’t that be so adorable?? Of course!! Until the idea turned out to be the worst idea EVER:
Oh sure, it looks like it went on just fine. But the minute I tried to lit that sucker off, the dough stuck to it and the filling started to fall out. The shape was way too small. Note to self: don’t get cute. Just stick to the recipe and take it easy, Martha junior.
I went to plan B, which was to use the mouth of a jar, which created the perfect sized ravioli. Simply place the mouth of the jar over the ravioli, and while pressing down, begin to rotate the jar from clockwise and counter-clockwise (like turning a knob) until you see the ravioli begin to separate from the rest of the dough. (Tip: add more flour to the top of your dough, especially around the edges of the pasta.)
Step 8: Carefully remove the raviolis from the excess dough. Freak out as you watch some of the filling start to fall out. Then talk yourself off of the ledge, add a bit more flour, and begin to “pinch” the sides of the ravioli, all the way around, to “seal” them. I like to use a fork to gently seal the sides of the ravioli as well:
Mine were still very soft at this point, which had me worried. I had visions of them exploding open as I dropped them into the boiling water, crumbling into a giant pot of mush, which once again made my roof sound like a good idea. But instead I put them on a plate and stuck them in the fridge for 10 minutes to see if they would harden a bit. They did, and by the time my water started boiling, they were perfect.
Step 9: Now it’s time to make your sauce. This is super easy – just melt your stick of butter in a medium-sized skillet on the stove top over medium heat. Allow it to melt until it starts to brown up (about 5 minutes), then add your fresh sage leaves and remove from heat. Your sage leaves should crisp-up right away. Set aside.
Step 10: Your water should be boiling, so now comes the moment of truth: time to cook your raviolis. If you are still with me, don’t worry – you’re in the home stretch. You can do this!! Just put down the noose, and one by one drop the ravs into the boiling water. They won’t take long to cook so don’t go doing anything crazy like watching your show or doing laundry or anything. Stay on top of these suckers, and the minute they start to float, get them the hell outta the water with a slotted spoon and place them right into your brown butter sage sauce.
Gently toss the ravioli around in the sauce, careful not to break them. Then plate them, and if you managed to find the Cinnamon Toscana cheese at Trader Joe’s, grate some on top and serve warm.
I give full credit to my neighbors Brian and Denise for introducing me to this cheese. Trader Joe’s carries it, but only in the Fall and they seem to sell out quick. If you can make that cheese happen, you won’t be disappointed. Just grab one of those hipsters in the dairy aisle and ask them if they have it or if they can get it for you. It helps if you make sure your eyes are really red and you grab him by the collar.
THAT’S IT!! Enjoy this savory, insanely delicious, jump-off-the-roof fantastic dish.
Note: You will have a lot of filling leftover – make this again the next night (like I did,) but also make more raviolis and FREEZE these puppies! I am using the leftover butternut squash filling to make more, and then am freezing them so I can eat them on Thanksgiving. I think I will have enough to give a tray of frozen butternut ravs to my friend, too. These are so cheap to make – just take a look at the ingredient list – and if you grow your own butternut squash, it’s even cheaper. Win-win all around!