Pumpkin season is upon us and I intend to experiment with it in the kitchen as much as I can.
This week a good friend of mine came over for dinner and I made fresh pasta. It was a while I didn’t use my Imperia pasta machine and I went back to it gladly. I find the whole process of kneading the dough then passing the sheets repeatedly through the rollers very relaxing. Although it has to be done quickly, the sequence of gestures is soothing to a busy mind.
Pumpkin ravioli are generally slightly sweet, which is fine by me but I wasn’t sure if it was going to be to my friend’s taste. So I spiced up the filling a little, adding dried powdered ginger for kick and plenty of parmesan for extra saltiness.
Here is the recipe.
For the filling:
1 large leek, washed, the hard parts removed then thinly sliced
Salt to taste
250g pumpkin, peeled and cut in 2cm cubes
Half a small glass white wine
20g parmesan, grated
1 tbsp powdered ginger
1/2 tbsp grated nutmeg
For the pasta:
200g ’00’ white pasta flour
50g semolina flour
2 medium eggs and 1 egg yolk, at room temperature, beaten (reserve the white for brushing)
For the sauce:
4 sage leaves
Ground pepper or allspice
In a medium sized wok melt some salted butter then add the chopped leek and a sprinkle of salt. Cook until it just starts going soft then add the cubed pumpkin, sprinkle again with salt, stir and cover. Let it cook on medium heat for about 3 minutes then stir again and cover.
The salt draws the natural moisture out of the vegetables and by covering with a lid you will create condensation. When all these natural liquids have dried out, add a splash of white wine, cover and cook until the pumpkin is soft.
Make the dough by mixing together the two flours, a sprinkle of salt, making the volcano shape and adding the beaten eggs and yolk. Knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is soft and uniform, neither too sticky nor crumbly. Divide in two balls, wrap in cling film and leave to rest for about 5-10 minutes.
In that time, you can go back to your filling. Transfer the pumpkin and leek mix in a food processor, add the parmesan, powdered ginger and freshly grated nutmeg and blend till smooth. Transfer the mixture back to the pan and adjust the salt. When making ravioli, I tend to have quite a salty filling. This will be offset by the pasta, so don’t worry if at first it tastes too salty. You will find the filling will probably bit a little too liquid. In my case at least it happened, so at this stage I cooked the excess moisture out for a few minutes until I obtained a creamy filling. When this is ready, you return to your pasta dough.
Flatten the two balls with a rolling pin and pass each sheet in the pasta machine, starting with the lowest setting. Repeat the lowest setting a few times by folding the sheet in two then putting it through the rollers again, until you see the sheet comes out uniform, without grains or surface holes. Then start working your way through all the other settings, folding in two and repeating the setting each time you are not happy with the result. Cut the sheet in half if it becomes too long. You can leave the sheets to rest while you are working on the others by hanging them on a purpose built pasta drier or on a hanger but you need to work quickly at this stage to avoid the sheets drying too much.
When each sheet has gone through all the available settings on your machine (my Imperia has 6), lay the sheet flat over a lightly floured surface (semolina is best) and cover with cling film to avoid further drying.
When all the sheets are ready, you can start filling them. Ideally you should use a ravioli tray (looks like a ice cube tray with zig zagged edges) but you can also work with a ordinary round or square dough cutter, or even a small glass. If you don’t have a tray, work with one sheet at a time: starting from one end of the sheet, cut one dough shape, place it on a lightly floured surface and put the filling in the middle. Brush the edges with egg white, cut another shape and lay it on top of the filling. Press the edges around, taking care of removing any air pocket. Place each raviolo on to a semolina dusted baking sheet.
If you have a tray lightly dust it with flour and lay one sheet on the mould. Fill the holes with the pumpkin mix, lightly brush the edges with egg white, and cover with a second sheet. Turn the tray around and cut the ravioli.
If any of your ravioli bursts or splits, before binning it you can always try to patch it up: cut a piece of dough (you will have plenty left over from the edges of the sheets) brush the area around the split with egg white and stick the ‘plaster’ on top: It may work or it may not (it’s a 50-50 thing) but at least you tried.
Boil a large pan of water, add salt and cook for about 5 minutes. While your pasta is cooking, melt the rest of the butter in a small pan, add the sage and grate the parmesan. Remove half a ladle of the cooking water from the pasta and stir in with the butter and sage. Mix the pepper or allspice in with the sauce.
Drain your pasta and mix in the with parmesan and sauce until all the condiment is evenly distributed. You need to be delicate at this stage in order not to break your ravioli. I use a wooden spoon and lightly work my way from the edges of the bowl towards the centre.
And now you can serve your creation…Rewards such as a glass of juicy red wine come highly recommended.
Heath score: 7