Monday, 7 November 2011

Buttercup squash and leek ravioli with buttermilk-parmesan sauce

Yes, I do have a presentation I should be working on. I cannot however, bring myself to relearn how the liver works and how cholesterol metabolism is regulated. Redesigning my website and using up the rest of the fresh pasta dough that I made last night is just so much more exciting. 

Yesterday I made some fresh linguine using an egg-less pasta dough recipe. I quickly realized that egg-less pasta dough needs to be dried a little bit or the pasta will just become mushy when you boil it. Dully noted.

This afternoon I decided I really wanted to make a ravioli but I was only willing to use what I have on hand (yesterday there was a shooting 2 blocks from my home, on my street, along the path that I take to walk to the grocery store; I'm scared, so I won't be walking to the store any time soon). Luckily, I had some good stuff on hand: leeks, buttercup squash and goat cheese. Sometimes recipes invent themselves. 

Despite the seemingly great plan, this recipe started out as a disaster. The filling I made was too soft, almost like a thick pureed soup. I attribute this to the fact that I roasted my leeks and squash covered, so they were very moist when they came out of the oven. I pureed the vegetables and then mixed in a very soft goat cheese and whisked egg. I added some flour to thicken the mixture but I think roasting the vegetables uncovered and using a firmer goat cheese or ricotta would ameliorate the texture - I incorporated these recommendations into the recipe below. That being said, the final result was pretty amazing if you like a melt-in-your-mouth ravioli over a hefty and chewy ravioli.

Also, as I mentioned, I used an egg-less pasta dough recipe which requires that you let the pasta dry out somewhat before cooking. Once I had made my raviolis, I left them in the fridge, spread out on baking sheets and uncovered for about an hour. You could use a pasta dough containing eggs and not have to wait for the pasta to dry out before cooking. I however like to try to veganize my recipes as much as possible which is why I chose the egg-less pasta dough. Since this recipe has goat cheese, parmesan, butter and buttermilk, obviously an egg-less pasta dough defeats the purpose. But next time my vegan baby-sister visits, I will be equipped to please.

Buttercup squash and leek ravioli with buttermilk and parmesan sauce
Makes 2 - 3 servings
This is one of those use-your-judgment recipes. Adjust the filling to your liking, use any type of squash you like, try ricotta or feta instead of goat cheese, top with whatever simple sauce you like. I personally would have loved this with a simple pesto or some roasted pureed tomatoes but I had neither on hand. If you really want some inspiration, have a look at Mario Batali's recipes, he is my favorite source for fresh pasta ideas.

Ravioli ingredients
Egg-less pasta dough (I used about 1/2 of this recipe and had enough for 2 or 3 people)

2 leeks, trimmed and washed
1 - 2 cups chopped winter squash (Butternut, acorn, buttercup)
1/2 log of goat cheese
Handful freshly grated parmesan
1/2 whisked egg
flour to thicken if necessary

1 - Follow Mario Batali's recipe (link above) to make pasta dough. This can be done a day in advance and left in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before using.
2 - Roast leeks and squash, lightly salted, at 350F for about 30 minutes, uncovered. Alternatively, saute on the stove-top until soft.
3 - While the vegetables are roasting, roll out dough into sheets using a pasta machine to the second-last setting. Mario Batali would tell you to fold the dough and repeat each setting at least 3 times. I cheat to save time and just go through each setting once. The result is a softer, less "toothsome" pasta. Set the sheets aside on a floured surface while you make the filling.
4 - Process cooled leeks and squash in a food processor.
5 - Stir in goat cheese, parmesan and egg. If the mixture is too soft for your liking then stir in flour, a teaspoon at a time, until thickened slightly.
6 - Cut the pasta sheets into squares, about 4" x 4".
7 - Place a tbsp of filling into the center of the squares (just make a few at a time).
8 - Use your finger tip, dipped in water, to lightly moisten the edges and fold the square over into a triangle. Seal the edge by firmly pressing down. If the edges look messy, trim with a sharp knife.
9 - Place raviolis on a floured baking sheet and place pasta in fridge to dry for about 1 hour. Turn over once after about 15 minutes so both sides have a chance to dry.
10 - After about 45 minutes, set a large pot of water to boil and start making the sauce (below).
11 - To make the pasta, bring water to boil and drop the raviolis in a few at a time so they don't stick together. 
12 - Cook about 2 minutes then remove with a slotted spoon. Drain briefly in a colander, then spread out on a cutting board if you can again so the raviolis don't stick together.
13 - Place raviolis, a couple at a time, on a plate.  Alternate raviolis with spoonfulls of sauce.
14 - Garnish with fresh parmesan and freshly ground pepper.

Sauce ingredients (the proportions can be modified to your liking, thickness, taste, fatness etc)
1/4 cup melted butter
1/3 cup buttermilk
~ 1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan
2 tbsp white wine
Sea salt

1 - Heat a small pot or pan to a low temperature (3 out of 10)
2 - Melt butter in pan and whisk in buttermilk then add parmesan.
3 - Whisk frequently until parmesan slightly melts and sauce is warmed. 
4 - Whisk in wine and season with salt.

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