Monday, January 12, 2009

Butternut Squash Ravioli - the dramatic mini series

Episode 1: The good years

When I put this recipe from Sunset on my vacation To Do list (I have one of these because I'm unflinchingly anal, as you know, so stop looking all surprised) I had very little idea what I was in for.

See, there was shotgun pasta-making (since Safeway is an asshole and doesn't carry fresh pasta sheets), manhandling of whole butternut squash and a myriad other random duties to be performed before we could feast on the seemingly simple dish of some ravioli in broth. And I won't yet get started on the full-scale disaster that became of the leftovers. 

Not yet.

First, let me convince you to try this recipe because it is oh so very delicious and fancy tasting to the point where you, too, may want to buy a pasta roller thingee so that you can make it again and again with the squash that's coming to you in the farmshare. Or whatever.

The good parts:
  • Peeling butternut squash with a standard vegetable peeler is sublime. No really. 
  • The texture of pureed butternut squash is much like that of whipped cream cheese. You'll want to eat it out of the food processor, BUT DON'T. You need it for the ravioli.
  • This recipe helped me get rid of some sage. The mystery herb that I have no idea what to do with.
  • There's a lot of Parmesan in the filling and it tastes like heaven. Even if Parmesan "smells like fuckin' puke dude, what's up with that?" Long story.
  • Fresh made pasta is a whole different pasta animal. A delicious one. Like if it were an animal, it'd be a pig. Because we know pigs are delicious. And also that I am a very bad Jew.
  • The broth really brings it home. Yes, it's just chicken broth and butter, but it tastes divine with the ravioli, so don't even think about skipping it.
And with all that in mind, I suggest you try making this ravioli. And since I didn't alter the recipe at all, I'll just point you here, so that you can download it in all of its coherent glory.

Now that you're sufficiently duped into making this, I will tell you the bad parts.
  • Rolling out pasta dough with a rolling pin is for suckers. The dough comes out thick and makes you want to buy a pasta roller, which you will do if you think about it too long like I did. My pasta roller should be here in a few days.
  • Crushing almonds scares the dog
  • Between the pots to boil the pasta and broth, cookie sheet to roast the squash, food processor to puree the squash and all the cutting boards and knives - I think I used most of my kitchen to make this meal. Which is why Bubba gave me a mean look when he went in to do dishes. This is not for the faint of heart dish-doers.
  • Freezing of leftovers is only recommended if you freeze the ravioli in a single layer after cooking but before freezing in a bag with its friends. More to come on this.
So, that's not TOO bad, right? I mean, there are technically more good parts than bad parts, so it all works out.

But to get to the foreboding part about full-scale disaster with leftovers...

So, I got this wild idea that, with the leftover ravioli, I'd just bag them (after boiling) and freeze them and eat them later with arugula from the garden just like a naive kitchen idiot. 

I kinda knew when I did this that it was going to be a bad idea. Yet still, I forged ahead.

And when I went to retrieve six ravioli from the 20 or so that were frozen into a solid pasta block in the bag, things began to take a bad squishy turn.

And at this moment, Bubba decided it would be a good time for a kiss. I did not agree.

See, pasta doesn't like to be frozen together in a big lump. At least, not if the individual pastas are going to called upon to perform individually at a future engagement. And, if one becomes frustrated with the unsuccessful extraction of the six individual frozen ravioli and, say, decides to just throw the whole block into a pot of boiling water to see if it will "loosen up", things take an even more disastrous turn.

It's weird how this smelled really good while looking like boiling sewage.  Food is silly.

One that creates a heaving, spitting, foaming mess from which you may only retrieve a few mangled ravioli that bear hardly a resemblance to their glorious never-frozen brethren.


The up side is that, when plated with a newly harvested arugula salad and topped with freshly grated Parmesan and some fruity olive oil, these ravioli still taste very good, despite their untoward appearance and the fact that you can see inside them to their very core. 

Episode 2: When disaster strikes

So, my advice to you is this, if you make this (and you should because it is YUM), please OH PRETTY PLEASE, freeze any remaining ravioli in a single layer on a cookie sheet BEFORE you put it into a zippie bag. Unless, of course, you like eating dismembered ravioli wads covered in Parmesan and olive oil.

In which case, proceed exactly as I did and enjoy a tasty, albeit ugly, meal. This approach is not advised for those attempting to impress a date. Just saying.


  1. Sweet mercy, this looks delicious. I remember making ravioli for the first time in Flag and it was so hard, and so tedious and ultimately, so worth it. The homemade pasta was thick (because I used the roller) but good! And you'd eat like 3 of these suckers and be stuffed.
    Yay for the homemade!Yay for using what you've got in your garden.
    YAY for Finny!

  2. Sorry, I laughed my butt off at this post, especially the big ol'lump of frozen pasta. But I sympathize...I had too-thick pasta even using a roller one time! Sucked. Thanks for sharing your humiliation with us :)

  3. Hilarious! That looks delicious.

  4. Once upon a time I made ravioli from scratch because Puff, the Magic Drag Queen and I decided to make dinner for all the hungry villagers. Now Puff was a wonderful chef. Me, not so much. I would be much better off sweeping the castle like one of Cinderalla's friggin mice. But Puff said "you can do it" and gosh darn it, I believed him. But Puff was wrong. There was dough that is still being used as an earthquake reinforcement, filling that we tried to to get patented as a competitor to Silly Putty, and sauce that both smelled and tasted like something that leaked onto the floor of a garage.

    Luckily for the villagers there was also salad and cheesecake. And nobody died that night.

  5. Nice one, Finn.

    I know this is something I would like to eat. I also know the odds of my actually making ravioli from scratch are pretty low. Unless I could sucker a friend into coming over to help. Now there's a thought . . .

  6. This is why I use wonton skins and egg roll wrappers for ravioli pasta.
    That, and I am uber lazy.

  7. I do love me some butternut squash, especially when it's stuffed inside a pasta and there is also cheese involved.

    Thanks for the heads up on the freezing situation.

  8. Hilarious. And, DELICIOUS! Mmmm...I want some of that! (But, making homemade pasta!? I'm impressed!)

  9. Hmm interesting, I have butternut squash in my cupboard just waiting to be used in some delicious recipe. Yes, very interesting...


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