Butternut Squash Spelt Ravioli
Butternut squash has always been my favorite ravioli filling, as I think the subtle sweetness it brings to a savory dish like pasta creates such a mouthwatering contrast. I also think it's best adorned with just a bit of parmigiano reggiano and enjoyed with someone you love. Homemade ravioli is a sort of small labor of love, as it takes a bit of time and attention like most other good things, and so I think whoever joins you in enjoying such a meal is simply bound to taste the care put in.
I chose to give this pasta dough just a little twist with the addition of spelt flour, a whole grain with a hearty flavor, to the all purpose flour and eggs. Dunked in a bath of salted, boiling water after being thinly rolled and stuffed with earthy butternut squash, this meal highlights the potential of a few simple ingredients: flour, eggs, squash, and ricotta.
This recipe focuses on the sweet squash and little else, with just a bit of cheese added, so it's quite light. You can of course add more ricotta and even some shaved parmesan if you'd prefer the filling to be creamier; I've done that before and it's absolutely delicious! And if spelt flour isn't available to you or you'd just rather keep it simple, you can omit the spelt and replace with equal parts all purpose flour.
When it comes to cooking butternut squash, I like to just give it a good scrub under some water, slice it in half, and pop it in the oven after rubbing with a bit of olive oil - skin and seeds and all. I find it much easier to scoop out the seeds and spoon the squash out from its skin after it's soft from roasting.
Butternut Squash Spelt Ravioli
Makes four generous servings or six small servings
- 1 butternut squash
- 1/2 cup part skim ricotta
- A pinch of salt
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup spelt flour
- 3 eggs
- Olive oil or melted parmesan, shaved parmigiano reggiano, salt, and pepper - for topping
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the squash in half, leaving the seeds in and skin on, and rub with a little olive oil. Place skin-side up on a baking sheet and roast until caramelized and soft, about 45 minutes.
While the squash is roasting, mix the pasta dough.
Measure the all purpose and spelt flour and pour into a bowl, then make a well in the middle for the eggs. Add the eggs, then use a fork to gently whisk them. Once whisked, gradually introduce flour to the whisked eggs with the fork while stirring. Once enough flour has been combined, set the fork aside, and knead until the dough comes together in a uniform ball. If the dough is dry, you may add 1/2 tablespoon of water at a time, until the dough is no longer dry but not yet sticky (if it’s sticky, you can add a bit more flour). Alternatively, use a food processor to combine the eggs and flour, adding the eggs one at a time, pulsing the machine until it forms into a ball. Knead the pasta dough on a floured surface for a few minutes, then cover with plastic wrap and rest the dough for 15 minutes or up to an hour.
After the dough has rested, divide the dough into six pieces. Using a pasta machine, feed a piece at a time through the roller set at the widest position, dusting generously with flour to help the dough not stick. Roll the dough thinner and thinner by adjusting the rollers to the next narrow setting each time. Keep going until the pasta is quite thin, to where you can just see your hand through it. Repeat with the rest of the dough, then place each sheet side by side on parchment paper. Cover with a floured towel to prevent the dough from drying out.
Remove the squash from the oven. Scoop out seeds and discard. Scoop the cooked squash out of the skin. Measure two cup's worth of cooked squash, and place in a mixing bowl. Mash a bit with a fork until no chunks are left. Add the ricotta and mix. Add a pinch of salt, or more, to taste.
On each pasta sheet, place about a half tablespoon amount of filling an inch apart in a row, leaving enough space on the top half of the pasta sheet to fold over on top of the filling. Wetting your finger or a small pastry brush with some water, wet the edges of the pasta around each dollop of ricotta filling. Fold over the top half of the pasta sheet, pressing the air out near each spoonful of filling, and firmly pressing the two pieces of dough together so that it adheres. Cut the ravioli apart and set aside (I like using a pizza cutter).
Fill a large pot with water, adding salt, and place over high heat so that it reaches a rolling boil.
When the water has reached a rolling boil, carefully add the ravioli, stirring so that none of the pasta sticks to the bottom of the pot. Boil until they rise to the top, giving them another minute or so once they’ve risen, then drain the water.
Toss with a few glugs of olive oil or a few tablespoons melted butter, shaved parmigiano reggiano, salt, and pepper. I like to serve this with arugula and spinach tossed with minced shallots, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. It would also be lovely served with roasted asparagus, tossed with pesto, or topped with ground sausage and thyme.