There are many, many moments I have looked back on and thought “What in the hell were you thinking? What have you gotten yourself into?” Today was no different, except instead of a botched romance or a this-is-a-lot-less-comfy-after-I’ve-eaten-ohmygodmyfoodbaby outfit I ended up with, no shit, about three pounds of squash purée. I don’t have time to think about parties or boys I am up to my friggin’ elbows in butternut. I think at one point I used to be fun? I don’t remember.
In typical Rachel fashion, I had an EPIPHANY at work about butternut squash ravioli. Y’all know I love my beets, and I thought “HEY. If I dye the pasta with beets it’ll be so FALL THEMED.” Purple* pasta with a bright orange filling? I mean come ON. That’s so fall themed it might as well be a turkey in a Pilgrim hat shooting fall foliage out of its… eyeballs.
*They ended up more pink than purple but hey… they still look damn good.
You could say I got a little overexcited.
One minute you’re making fresh pasta and the next you have enough root vegetable purée left over to build a monument to your mistakes. Life comes at you fast, man. I started filling the ravioli and when I realized how little of a dent I was putting in the pile of squash I said out loud to myself “DAMN IT. WHO DID YOU THINK YOU WERE FEEDING? WHY ARE YOU LIKE THIS?” So now here I sit, contemplating everything you could do with that delicious orange mash. If you have any ideas, seriously, please help me.
For the pasta:
- 4 cups “Cup for Cup” gluten free flour, plus more for dusting
- 4 large eggs
- 8 egg yolks
- 8 tablespoons beet puree, from 4 beets roasted at 400 °F for 30-40 minutes and then puréed
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- Cold water, as needed
For the purée:
- 1 butternut squash
- 4 sweet potatoes (This is where I went wrong.. they were gigantic and I have no idea why I thought I needed this many)
- 2 medium yellow onions
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 3 tablespoons Better than Bouillon chicken concentrate
- 10 oz chicken broth
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 4 springs rosemary
For the brown-butter sage sauce
- 2 sage leaves
- 1/4 cup butter (better quality= better sauce. So help me God if I find out someone substituted “I can’t believe its not butter” into my recipe I will lose it.)
For the pasta:
- Split your flour up into two happy little 2-cup mountains and then make a well in the center of each. Make it large enough so you can fit all of your liquids into the center otherwise they will spill ALL OVER the place and not end up in your mouth, which would be sad. I know this because I did this and played a very strange interpretation of whack-a-mole trying to throw flour on it before it got all over the floor. Be better than me.
- Put two whole eggs, four yolks, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, and four tablespoons of beet purée into one of the wells.
- Beat with a fork to mix well and then slowly incorporate more flour until it is all incorporated and you have a sticky, lumpy dough.
- Repeat with the second flour volcano so that you have two lumpy dough balls. Yes, I am laughing at having just said two lumpy balls. Never grow up.
- Knead each dough ball by pressing down with the heel of your hand, folding it over in half, turning at a 45° angle and then push down again. Keep rotating and folding until your arms are sore as hell and you begin to wonder if you should have committed to this whole fresh pasta thing. I questioned my life choices quite a few times in this process. After a few minutes, the dough will smooth out and form a more uniformly colored ball. Once it has, wrap each ball in plastic wrap and sit it aside on the counter to rest and hydrate.
- Once it has rested, take 1/4 of a dough ball at a time and roll it out thin (about 1/8 inch). I used the Kitchenaid pasta making attachment because I aint got NO time for trying to roll out this shit by hand. I respect the heck out of your Italian grandma that did it all by hand but haaaail no. Gluten-free dough sucks up a ton of liquid, so this is where your water comes in. If you notice the dough falls apart or has overly jagged edges, rub a small amount of water into it with your hands, fold it over, and pass it through the roller again. With a LOT of patience I promise it will work but it will need to be more wet than you expect.
Note: Gluten-free dough is a GIGANTIC pain in my ass. It fell apart and I cursed it 95 times before it finally came together and I got the hang of it. After the first ball of dough you will get the feel of it and it will go much faster. It’s a labor of love for my gluten-allergic mother and friends, but good LORD if you can eat it by all means use this recipe with regular old flour. Oh gluten, how I miss you and your elasticity.
For the purée:
- Preheat oven to 425 °F.
- Peel and cut your squash and sweet potatoes into two-inch chunks. Cut the onion into 1-inch thick rings or half-rings. Spread out on two baking sheets along with the whole cloves of garlic and rosemary sprigs. Drizzle with olive oil and season with a heavy dose of black pepper. DO NOT SALT YET. I am the poster child of salt intake. I promise I won’t leave you hanging, just not yet.
- Roast for 10 minutes, toss them around a little, and then roast for another 10-15 minutes or until they are tender when poked with a fork.
- Working in batches, puree the contents of the sheet pans in a food processor. I split it in half and managed to get away with it. To each half I added half of the liquid ingredients (milk, OJ, chicken broth, 1 egg) to help it blend smoother. It doesn’t need to be perfectly exact because its all going to the same place and believe me, you’re gonna be doing some mixing.
- Transfer your puree to a large bowl and add the chicken concentrate and paprika. Mix and mix until it is smooth, uniform, and your arms are threatening to leave you for real this time.
- Spoon a few cups of the mixture into a large ziplock bag and cut off the corner and then lookie-here, you have yourself a knock-off piping bag.
On making raviolis:
- 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
- Metric fuck-ton of puree, or, I don’t know, maybe a reasonable amount. Half what my crazy ass made would be plenty.
- Pasta dough
- Ravioli cutter (or just cut them with a knife, be all free-formed and bohemian. The thought of them all being different sizes just gives me a mild panic attack.)
That’s all you need. Oh and way more patience than I can usually muster. Forget going on some expensive yogi retreat and learning meditation, make yourself some ravioli. Impatient? Not shit you can do about it. It is going to be labor intensive. It is going to be slow. But at the end you have tasty ravioli instead of cultural appropriation in the form of some “deep and meaningful” tattoo you will definitely regret.
So roll out your pasta, cut your squares, and line them up two by two. Pipe a teaspoon of filling into one half and run egg wash along the edges of the pasta square with your finger. Gently press the other half on top, pushing out as much air as possible. Become a machine. Let your assembly line run and get into a rhythm.
I was so excited that I forgot to take a better picture of them so forgive the SnapChat quality but here’s what mine looked like:
Putting it all together:
- Set a large pot of water to boil on the stove. They say four quarts or something like that but come on, who measures that? No one. Well maybe Martha Stewart but prison does things to a person.
- Salt the water heavily. It should be salty as the ocean. That’s how delicious pasta is born.
- Once the water has come to a rolling boil, gently drop in your raviolis. I recommend 6 per person, to start, 3 if it’s an appetizer.
- The raviolis are done when they float. When they are fresh, this should be just 2-3 minutes. From frozen, it took more like 3-4 minutes.
- Put the butter and sage leaves in a large pan over medium-high heat. The amounts I have listed here would be enough for 2-3 servings (8-12 raviolis). More raviolis, more butter. More butter is always the answer.
- The butter will melt, then foam, and when the foaming subsides it will very quickly brown. YOU NEED TO BABYSIT THIS. IF YOU DON’T, YOU WILL BURN IT. There. That’s your warning. It’s not labor-intensive, just a little gentle stirring, and it only takes about 5-7 minutes. It’s just that the line between brown butter and burnt-to-shit butter happens FAST. As soon as it has taken on some light brown color and has that delicious, nutty smell, take it off the heat.
- Toss the raviolis in the sauce and serve immediately.
I never could get the hang of meditating. I know it’s supposed to be good for you and all but I have never in my 22 years of life thought about nothing. “Just clear your mind.” Seriously? And put all of my bullshit where? I end up getting more stressed because ohmygodbrainnotclearimnotdoingitrighthowcanotherpeopledothisshutuprachel. Pasta works much better for me. My brain is just focused enough to quiet down a little. I don’t think about school or work or relationships. I get into the zone.
The good news is, even though it’s a time consuming process, these freeze wonderfully. Just place them in a single layer on a baking sheet in the freezer until hardened, and then they can be transferred to a large bag and kept for a few months. So yes, it took me four hours and I got flour in inexplicable places. But now I have a BOATLOAD of ravioli that I can come home and eat within 15 minutes. Take a Sunday afternoon and make the investment. I promise it’s worth it.
These turned out near 10/10. The filling was incredible, the beet sweetness just barely came through, and the earthy sage balanced everything beautifully. The only thing I’d say is that I wish the pasta was a little bit thinner. The ratio of dough to filling was just a little bit off. If you’re doing gluten-full pasta, this won’t be a concern. You can get regular pasta dough paper thin with no issue. Gluten-free dough, on the other hand, is testy as hell. It’ll fall apart if you look at it sideways. I was nervous about its stability, so I was conservative in my estimate of how thin I could go. Next time, I think I could push it a little further.
Oh and please, I wrote the recipe to reflect what I actually did and keep the ratios straight, but good LORD do not make as much filling as I did unless you plan on making twice as much pasta to put it in. It would be easy to half that recipe. Unless my “shit I really need to find a way to use a pound of squash puree) turns out just as good… stay tuned for Saturday, when I’m gonna MacGyver something else out of it.