I adore autumn, the leaves turning yellow, orange, red, the crispy winter air starting to tickle my nose. But most of all, I LOVE autumn and winter food. As a northern Anglo-Italian, most of both of my family food traditions are centred around these seasons. So I am very happy to be rid of the fresh summery pasta salads, light meals and fruit to make space for yummy roasts, toad in the hole, risotto, polenta, soups and RAVIOLI among all the rest.
It is hard to give the ravioli an exact date and place or origin in the world, as forms of pasta stuffed with other things do exist though in different forms in many countries, for example Japan, India etc. It is certain, that in Italy they reach a level of culinary excellence that is exquisite. One of the first written sources that talks about ravioli in Italy is Giovanni Boccaccio‘s “Decameron” (1353 circa), where he describes: “…these people do nothing else all day than make maccheroni and ravioli and cook them.“. Ravioli have different names and slightly different shapes and sizes in different italian regions, for example it is called “Agnolotto” in Piedmont, “Tortello” in Lombardy and Emilia regions, “Pansotti” in Liguria.
You can have different fillings in the ravioli, from the classic “Magro” with spinach and ricotta, to different types of meats, potatoes, cheeses. As this blog is about crafts and sharing what we do and love, we thought that cooking should be in here too! So today, I will share one of my all time favourites: The Pumpkin Raviolo. King of the Autumn table.
Ingredients for the “Pasta all’uovo”:
- 200 gr of simple 00 flour
- 1 whole egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 8 gr of salt
Ingredients for the pumpkin filling:
- 250 gr of cleaned pumpkin
- 200 gr of Ricotta cheese
- 10 gr of crumbled amaretti cookies
- a pinch of nutmeg
- 15 gr of grated parmesan cheese
Ingredients for the butter sauce
- unsalted butter
- fresh sage
- salt, pepper
Procedure for the “Pasta all’uovo” is simplified if you have a Pasta machine, such as an atlas, but you can, with a bit of hard work do this by hand with a proper surface and rolling pin, be aware, you will need much practice and strong arms! Mix all ingredients, starting by making a little mountain with the flour, create a hole in it and put in the eggs and salt, working it in a lucid, smooth ball. Remember, once you have made the dough ball let it rest 30 mins covered in the fridge before dividing it in smaller balls to flatten it. The pasta layers should not be much thicker than 0.35 to 0.5 mm. If it gets any thicker than that it will not be nice to eat, so work it with the rolling pin or the pasta machine until it is of that thickness.
The filling is easy, just cook the pumpkin (i think oven baked is better as it dries it too), and mix all together, adjust salt to taste. Once your pasta sheets are ready, you can either use a special Ravioli stamp, or a ravioli and pasta wheel cutter to start tracing (without cutting) the spaces where your filling should go, then you will simply put little balls of the filling on the sheets (see example) and then close with another sheet, cut and press the side with stamp or wheel, helping yourself with your fingers, should it not stick very well, use a tiny bit of water to seal them by hand.
Do not use messy sauces with Pumpkin Ravioli, remember the key to REAL italian cooking is simplicity, you should be able to taste the pumpkin not the sauce. So in a sauce pan, heat the butter with the washed and roughly cut sage leaves until golden. And please, no garlic. I am not sure where the idea that Italians cook with so much garlic came from, but it is not true 🙂
Ravioli needs to be put in a pot of boiling water (with a pinch of salt) and be cooked between 3 to 5 minutes depending on the thickness of the pasta. Take them out, pour the butter sauce on top, sprinkle with parmesan and serve hot.