Sunday, January 15, 2012

butternut squash ravioli with brown butter sage sauce

I know that everyone pounces upon butternut squash when they first arrive, in September or so, great bins of them in the markets reminding me of giant bins of apricot-colored legos.  But for me, this is the time for real butternut squash-ing.  January is the time when I want my oven on, sometimes for the whole day, filling the kitchen with precious heat and with the weighty aromas of a dinner that will warm my bones.

Roasting squash is kind of like babysitting an infant—you need to be there, awake and ready to step in, but you don't need to entertain him all the time.  As the squashes take their lazy nap in the oven, I like to sit in the kitchen with a cup of tea and the radio on, or read by the bright winter daylight that streams in through our wall of white-paned windows.

These butternut squash ravioli are more like babysitting a three-year-old: they hear your instructions, but they don't always behave themselves.  This process can be a chore, but at the end, you're oh so proud of your little ravioli.

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Brown Butter Sage Sauce
Makes 16 large ravioli

This recipe calls for fresh wonton wrappers, which you can find in any asian market.  They stick together easily once wet, so keep the boiling water well-oiled and the ravioli well apart from each other.

For ravioli:
Half of one butternut squash, roasted until tender
1/3 cup grated fresh Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons heavy cream or milk
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 medium fresh sage leaves, torn into pieces
32 fresh wonton wrappers, large size

For the brown butter:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 medium fresh sage leaves, torn into pieces
salt to taste

1.  Scrape the butternut squash out of its skin into a food processor.  Add all of the remaining ingredients except the wonton wrappers, and puree until smooth.

2.  Place about 1 tablespoon of the puree in the center of a wonton wrapper.
3.  Fill a small bowl with warm water.  Wet your finger and use your finger to wet all four edges of the wonton wrapper.  The water will act as a sealant to keep the ravioli sealed.
4.  Place another wonton wrapper on top of the first, lining up the edges as well as you can.  Seal the edges all the way around, working out any air bubbles you find.

5. If desired, crimp the edges of the ravioli with a fork.  Place the ravioli on parchment paper or a non-stick surface.  Repeat for the remaining 15 ravioli.

To cook the ravioli:
1.  Fill a large pot with water and 1 tablespoon salt, and bring to a boil.  Add 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil.

2.  Gently place two ravioli into the boiling water.  Use a spoon to gently agitate the ravioli, making sure they don't stick to the bottom of the pot (those wonton wrappers really are sticky!).  Once they've been un-stuck, boil for 2 minutes each, or until the ravioli float to the surface.

3.  Using a slotted spoon, fish the ravioli out of the water.  Place them into a colander for a minute or so to slough off excess water, then transfer to a plate.  Meanwhile, boil the next two ravioli.  Repeat this system until all ravioli have been boiled.

For the brown butter:
1.  Melt the butter in a small saucepan or saute pan over medium heat.  When the foam subsides, add the torn sage leaves and a pinch of salt.

2.  Cook the butter until it begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes.  Spoon the sauce over the ravioli.  Use it sparingly; just a few drops on each ravioli will do.


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