Butternut Squash “Ravioli” with browned butter, raisins and pecans

Last week some friends dropped off a couple of home grown butternut squash for us to enjoy. My initial plan was to roast them and use them as a side dish for an upcoming meal however I had been craving raviolis lately. These delicate little puffy pillows filled with goodies. They require a little bit of time but are so worth it. Stuff them with practically anything, depending on what’s available and what the mood calls for. Round or square or triangles – I do love them so!

I am going to let you in on a little secret. I sometimes cheat with my raviolis. Yes you heard me correctly. Making home made pasta dough and making them from scratch is obviously the ideal way. Fresh pasta sheets from the store is also an option although I do find the pasta sheets in general too thick for raviolis. Rolling them out with a rolling pin or a hand crank pasta machine would work. The other option, should you not be in the mood to deal with fresh pasta dough, is to grab a pack of fresh wonton wrap sheets in the produce section of your grocery store. They are already cut into perfect squares, perfect thickness. When boiled, the similarity to pasta is striking. So. This dish is made using these. The recipe can of course be used with your beautiful home made pasta dough as well!

Filling:

1/4 cup each of dark and golden raisins

1/4 cup brandy or cognac

1/4 cup water

1/2 butternut squash

1 tbsp parsley

1 tbsp freshly grated ginger

1/4 cup mascarpone cheese

Salt & pepper

Olive oil

1/2 cup pecans

Olive oil

1 tbsp sugar

Salt & pepper

40 wonton sheets

1 egg, lightly whisked

2-3 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix the raisins, brandy and water in a bowl. Set aside

Peel the butternut squash and cut into 1” pieces.

Place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Roast in the oven for 30-45 min until soft. Let cool.

In a bowl, toss pecans with a light drizzle of olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper.

Spread out evenly on a separate baking sheet and bake in the oven along with the squash for about 10-15 min. Keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn.

In a food processor, puree the butternut squash along with the mascarpone, ginger and parsley until smooth.

Set aside.

Ravioli:

Sprinkle flour onto a flat work surface and place the wonton wrappers evenly.

With a pastry brush, wet each wonton sheet with the whisked egg.

Using a piping bag or two spoons, place a scant tbsp of filling in the centre of 20 of the wonton wrappers.

Take an empty wonton sheet and place on top of a sheet with filling. Egg mixture facing each other. With a cookie cutter, trim the raviolis to make them smaller. With a fork, press along the sides to seal the ravioli and prevent filling to escape.

In a large pot bring water to a boil. Cook the raviolis 2-3 min. Save 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

Assembly:

In a cast iron pan, over medium-high heat, melt the butter and add the raviolis. Saute until lightly browned. Add the raisins, brandy and leftover pasta water.

Crumble the pecans and add.

Season with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Butternut Squash and Apple Cider Shots

s2You might think this is very much a fall post. That is true. It would be a perfect fall post. Except it’s not. March has finally arrived and spring is just around the corner. The long winter months are over and we can start looking forward to seeing the the earth come to life again. In anticipation of the new season, with all that it will give us, I find celebrating what has kept us alive throughout fall and winter is a nice gesture. In the olden days root cellars were very popular. Before grocery stores became what they are today and before modern refrigeration, this was the way to survive. Everything that needed to stay cool was put down there. Potatoes and carrots, apples and onions, squash and pumpkins were stored along with preserved vegetables and fruits. Perhaps even a few bottles of wine. I really love the traditional Swedish root cellar. They were outside of the house, dug into the ground and covered with dirt so that they resembled a grassy mound with a small door.  I would love to eventually build a one behind the house. I will tell you more about them in another post. So, this will be one of the last ‘winter posts’ for a while. These butternut squash and apple cider shots are a great amuse bouche or hors d’oeuvre for your next dinner party. I am using The Old Third Golden Russet Apple Cider of course.
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1 butternut squash

1 medium onion

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp olive oil

6-8 fresh thyme sprigs

fresh ginger, one 1″ piece

4 cloves of garlic

3 cups chicken stock

1 1/2 cup dry apple cider

1/4 tsp nutmeg

salt & pepper

1/2 cup cream

1 package sliced bacon

 

Peel the butternut squash and cut into 1″ pieces, discarding the centre core. Peel and roughly chop the onion and ginger. In a frying pan heat up the butter and olive oil. Sauté the onion and ginger 2-3 minutes, then add the squash and garlic as well as the thyme sprigs. Sauté for another couple of minutes. Add the chicken stock, apple cider and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, then simmer until squash is soft, 20-30 minutes. 

Meanwhile, fry the bacon crisp, either in a heavy skillet, or on a baking sheet in a 450F oven. Let the bacon cool then crumble it together into small pieces. Put aside. 

Remove the soup from heat and let cool slightly. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Stir in the cream and season with salt and pepper. Pour into shot glasses just before serving.Decorate with the crumbled bacon. Makes 24-30 shots or 6 appetizer size servings. 

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