Sunday, 10 June 2012

Pumpkin and ricotta ravioli with burnt butter and sage sauce

After weeks of looking at the pumpkins in the wooden box beside my back door I decided it was time to do something. We have had a lot of soup this year and whilst I enjoy soup, I don't love it. We have tried many recipes in our house from roast pumpkin, to Moroccan flavoured to Asian inspired - we have found them all enjoyable but nothing to get excited about.

This year we had 10 kent/jap pumpkins that had sprung out of the compost. Fortunately they were ready before the frosts arrived. Last year the entire crop was a failure, planted too late and the frosts came too early. A tip for young punters out there: to tell if your pumpkins are ready the steam needs to go brown and break easily. Its a real shame when you think they are ready and when you cut through them they are far from a beautiful orange.

I have wanted to make pasta for a long time but always decided against it at the last minute due to a fear of failure. I think my fear was compounded by the likes of MasterChef and My Kitchen Rules, where the judges have at times been harsh and quite critical of the contestants pasta making ability.
Zara with the pumpkin box

A few weeks ago on a MasterChef team challenge they made pumpkin ravioli - I tried to find the recipe on the website but failed miserably, so I have made my own version from reading my faithful bible (the Cooks Companion) and a few internet searches.

The instructions below may appear daunting but never fear - it is super easy and very rewarding. I will definitely make the ravioli again, but wouldn't recommend making it on a week night. A great activity for a lazy long weekend and would be a good thing to do with kids.

Roast Pumpkin and Ricotta Filling:
1 large pumpkin, cut into big wedges with skin left on - 1 used 450g for this recipe and used the rest for salads
fennel seeds
ricotta (equal quantity to pumpkin)

4 eggs
1 egg yolk
400 g of plain flour

Burnt Butter and Sage Sauce
75 g butter
20 sage leaves

Make the pasta: simply throw all the ingredients in the food processor and let it wizz. If you have a dough attachment - use this part. It took about 3 minutes for mine to become combined. It should spring back when it is touched and not be sticky.

Step 2
Knead the dough for about another 3 minutes and wrap in glad wrap and set aside for 1 hour at room temperature.

Step 3
Season the pumpkin wedges with salt, pepper and some fennel seeds. Our oven is not working at the moment so I put them in our BBQ for 45 minutes until they were caramelised and golden. Let them cool until they are able to be handled.

Step 4
Peel the skin from the pumpkin and mash. I think if you were being a real masterchef you probably would "pass" the pumpkin at this stage - but I am a home cook and way too lazy.

Step 5
Mix the pumpkin with ricotta, parmesan and egg. Taste and season if necessary. A number of recipes that I read on the net suggested adding bread crumbs at this stage. We didn't have any so, I just left it as is.

Step 6
Rolling the pasta: follow the instructions for your pasta machine, and make your pasta as thin as possible. This process was pretty entertaining and I am sure if Zara was a few years older this would be a great family activity. After a quick google search I found instructions on how to cut and fill ravioli. My first batch was a fail and they looked more like dumplings than ravioli - but  they tasted a treat. By the end of my third batch I think I could pass them off as restaurant quality.

As I made more of them I learnt to make sure I had dusted them with flour otherwise I found they got stuck to the plate.

Step 7
Cook in boiling water and remove once they float to the surface. It takes less than 1 minutes for them to come to the surface. Its really important that the water is rapidly boiling otherwise they get stuck to the bottom of the pot... had a few initial fails but worked out my mistake quickly.

Step 8
While the pasta is cooking, its time to make the sauce. Melt the butter, add the sage leaves and wait until it turns a "nutty" brown colour. Put the freshly cooked parcels in the sauce and enjoy!!!!