Christmas Cooking, Final Leg: Squash Ravioli With Sage Brown Butter

Update on the imperfect Christmas Eve quiche: it was a hit!  It drew comments like “This is the best quiche I’ve ever eaten” and “Did you go to cooking school?” So despite the pastry hiccup, I won’t be tossing out my standard quiche formula.

Christmas morning was lovely, and I now have a stack of new non-school related books to read.

IMG_0479I’m already halfway through Sheila Heti’s How Should a Person Be? and it’s knocking my socks off.

I haven’t made stuffed pasta in a while.  Before we’d made a habit of going out for dinner on Christmas, or spending Christmas Day with my father’s family, we had a “stuffed pasta” Christmas tradition.  This began on our second Christmas together, when we took a trip to New York and stayed at the apartment of some friends who were away. I didn’t feel like seeking out specific ingredients in unfamiliar grocery stores, or spending a lot of time cooking in an unfamiliar kitchen.  We went to Whole Foods (or was it Zabar’s? Can’t remember…) and scrounged around for something easy and delicious, and came across some fresh-made pumpkin-stuffed ravioli.  I don’t think either of us had ever eaten pumpkin ravioli.  It sounded amazing, and, doused in a packet of fresh-made roasted-red-pepper sauce, it was.

Our next Christmas, I tried making squash-stuffed ravioli myself.  I invented the filling recipe on the fly, and it turned out much too sweet and didn’t work at all with the bottle of pesto we dumped on it.  I gave up. For a few years, we just bought stuffed pasta at the supermarket so I didn’t have to bother with cooking on Christmas.

This year, though, I was determined that we would have a real home-cooked Christmas dinner that I would make from start to finish in our new kitchen.

I should have photo-documented the process of making the squash ravioli, but I was too absorbed in what I was doing to bother with taking pictures.  I had made the filling a few days before with chopped pecans, chopped sage and puree of roasted butternut squash. (The recipe I was sort of following called for maple syrup, but I had learned my too-sweet lesson.)

Yesterday I made the pasta, by tweaking a recipe that came with my KitchenAid pasta rollers. Their “light wheat pasta” recipe calls for 2 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour, one cup of white flour, 4 eggs, a couple of tablespoons of water and 1/2 tsp of salt.  I reversed the proportions of white and whole wheat, as the ww flour I used was a coarse integral bread flour and I didn’t want the pasta to be too heavy.

I tried to shape the pasta by following these instructions from Apartment Therapy’s The Kitchn, but I couldn’t get the technique; the squash stuffing kept spilling out the sides of the ravioli.  I finally made it work by applying dabs of stuffing instead of a line, but I’m going to try this method again and see if I can master it, because the agnoletti in the pictures look so pretty.

Our lovely friend arrived at around 4, bearing TOO MANY COOKIES, (mmmmm, just had some for breakfast…), toys for the cats (Cat A was having an off day, so it was helpful to have something to entertain him), and wine.  We started with the mushroom soup that I made on Friday – it was declared a winner – and when that was done, I simmered the ravioli and made the sage brown butter.

I melted about 1/3 cup of unsalted butter with a dash of truffle oil in a pot, and then threw in a big pinch of fleur de sel and a handful of chopped sage leaves. The sage crisped up nicely, but the milk solids browned in the butter while the liquid didn’t brown sufficiently.  I’m not sure why that would be, but I threw it all together in the pasta pot anyway and slapped it on the plates.

It was, if I may say so, completely delectable.  The pasta was just firm enough, the filling was savoury and sweet but not too sweet, and the butter sauce had a lovely rich truffle-and-sage flavour.

Yes, it's a bit blurry - a lot of wine had already been consumed.

Yes, it’s a bit blurry – a lot of wine had already been consumed.

IMG_0475Christmas tradition reclaimed!  I see no reason not to make this dish every year, especially as I’m rarely up for the time-consuming process of making my own pasta at any other time.

We had a lovely evening full of wine and chat.  I’m happy to report that although Cat A continued to seem out of sorts, he appears much better this morning and has been chasing his new toys all around the house.  And, special bonus – it looks like the lipstick plant is starting to bloom!

IMG_0478Happy holidays to all of you.  I hope your December 25, however you chose to celebrate it or just live it quietly, was as pleasant and love-filled as ours.

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