Mother Earth Living

Vegetarian Holiday Fare: Pumpkin Ravioli

By David Merrill
October/November 1993
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Serves 6 to 8 

This dish looks striking: little nuggets filled with golden pumpkin, topped with creamy white sauce studded with toasted hazelnuts and streamers of bright green sorrel. For best results, prepare the dish in one continuous process, which may require 2 to 21/2 hours, depending on whether you make or buy the pasta and the pumpkin filling. However, ravioli and sauce can be made separately and refrigerated until assembly. The dish does ­require your undivided attention toward the end as you time the pasta, ­reduce the cream, and wilt the sorrel. The sauce must be ready the moment the pasta is cooked; otherwise, the ravioli will get cold, mushy, and sticky. The sorrel must not sit in the cream sauce long or it will turn gray and lose its delicate flavor.

Pasta 

If you can’t find frozen pasta sheets or prefer to make your own, here’s a recipe that’s virtually foolproof. Herbs and spices compatible with the dish can be kneaded into the dough toward the end.

• 6 cups unbleached flour
• 6 large eggs

1. Heap the flour and make a well in it. Break the eggs into the well and beat them together with a fork. Stir them into the flour from the bottom of the well with the fork until the dough in the center is smooth and shiny. With your hands, gradually incorporate the flour from the outside of the well toward the center, kneading gently until the mass of dough comes together.

2. Knead the dough until it is smooth and resilient. You may need to add more flour, or you may not be able to incorporate all of the flour, depending on the humidity and the size of the eggs. If the dough is sticky or extremely pliable, knead more flour into it.

3. Divide the dough into three portions, cover them with plastic wrap or an overturned bowl, and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes.

Filling 

• 1 medium pumpkin or large winter squash, halved and baked until soft (about 21/2 cups cooked)
• 2 large carrots, chopped and cooked until just soft
• 2 yellow onions, finely diced
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 2 teaspoons coriander
• 1/2 teaspoon mace
• 1/2 teaspoon allspice
• Pinch cardamom
• 1/2 pound unsalted butter
• 1/3 pound parmesan cheese, freshly grated
• 2 tablespoons maple syrup
• 1 large egg, lightly beaten
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 1 1/2 pounds fresh pasta, in sheets

1. Pureethe cooked pumpkin or squash and carrots in a food processor until smooth.

2. Sauté the onions, garlic, and spices in butter until the onions are soft, then add to the pureed vegetables. Add the cheese, maple syrup, egg, salt, and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning, then set the filling aside.

Sauce 

• 1 cup hazelnuts
• 3 cups heavy cream
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• Pinch each cayenne, white pepper, and salt
• 2 cups sorrel, stems removed, cut into 1/8-inch strips

1. Preheat oven to 400°F and toast the hazelnuts in a shallow pan on the middle rack for 10 to 12 minutes or until brown and fragrant. Remove from the oven. When they are cool enough to handle, wrap the nuts tightly in a lint-free towel and vigorously rub them against the towel. Open the towel carefully and pick out the nuts, discard the skins, then rewrap the nuts and continue rubbing until the nuts are almost blond.

2. Cook the cream, garlic, cayenne, and pepper over high heat, stirring often and adjusting heat to keep the cream from boiling over. When the cream is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, add the salt, taste, and adjust seasoning. Remove from heat until you’re ready to use it.

Assembly 

If you’re making your own pasta, roll the dough out very thin on a lightly floured surface, one portion at a time. If you have a pasta machine, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for rolling out the dough into sheets about 1 millimeter thick.

Lay one pasta sheet out on a flat surface and spray it with water to prevent drying and to make it more flexible. Place half tablespoons of filling along the bottom edge of the pasta about 1/2 inch apart. For larger ravioli, use 1 tablespoon of filling and leave 1 inch between dollops. Fold the pasta sheet over the filling and cut apart with a ravioli cutter. Set the finished ravioli aside and cover with a damp cloth.

Cook the ravioli in salted boiling water al dente. Reheat the sauce, then drain the ravioli. Add the shredded sorrel to the sauce and cook just until it wilts—about 30 seconds. Add half the hazelnuts, turn the heat off, and add the cooked ravioli. Stir gently and serve immediately. Garnish with the remaining hazelnuts.


Recipe courtesy Janet Hazen.

Click here for the main article, Vegetarian Holiday Fare. 


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