Fresh pasta is doubly delicious when you can both make and eat it! Ravioli filled with pumpkin is one of the most classic pasta dishes of Lombardy, in particular of Mantua; with its sweet and spicy taste, it is pure poetry for the palate.
The secret ingredients that make this dish so special are amaretti cookies and mostarda. Mostarda di frutta is made of candied fruit and a mustard-flavored syrup. Traditionally it was served with boiled meat, but nowadays it has become popular to complement cheeses, too. It is also delicious to use in sweet fillings, to add a spicy touch.
This is not a difficult recipe to make, especially if you use a pasta machine and a raviolatore – a Ravioli form. It's a standard family activity with my kids and friends. Team work is pretty useful for this recipe, because fresh pasta dries out quickly (faster than you think), and working together will speed up the whole process. I would suggest rolling out only a small part of the pasta at a time, keeping the remaining dough well-covered with cling wrap while you prepare a few ravioli.
Pumpkin ravioli are typically served with a simple sauce of melted butter with sage leaves, then topped with grated Parmesan.
RAVIOLI DI ZUCCA (PUMPKIN RAVIOLI)
Preparation time: 1 1/2 hours Cooking time: 5-6 minutes Servings: 8
500 g (about 3 ½ cups) Italian Grade 00 flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
5 medium eggs, at room temperature
500 g (18 oz) pumpkin puree, better “zucca Mantovana” or butternut squash
150 g (about 1 ½ cups) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
100 g (3.5 oz) amaretti cookies, finely crushed
100 g (3.5 oz) mostarda (pear), finely chopped in a food processor
1 medium egg
Salt, freshly ground pepper and nutmeg to taste
100 g (3.5 oz) butter
Fresh sage leaves
Grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground pepper
1. Prepare the filling. Steam or bake the pumpkin, peel and puree. Set aside.
In a food processor at low speed mix the pumpkin, Parmesan cheese, amaretti, mostarda, egg and salt, pepper, nutmeg to taste. If the pumpkin is a little bit watery, add 2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs. Transfer to a bowl, cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until needed
2. Prepare the pasta. Place the flour in a volcano-shaped mound on a work surface (wood is the traditional material) making sure that the crater provides a large enough well in the center to hold the eggs. Wash the eggs under running water, dry and crack into the well. Beat the eggs well with a fork, then gradually blend the flour into the eggs, starting from the inner wall of the well and continuing until all the flour and the eggs are completely combined. You may have to add additional flour until the dough is no longer sticky (the amount will depend on the absorption characteristics of the flour and on the temperature of the room). Knead the dough for about 15 minutes to form a smooth and elastic ball. This procedure helps develop the gluten in the flour, so your pasta will be springy and al dente when it is cooked. Place the dough in a clean cotton dish towel or cling wrap to rest for about 20 minutes at room temperature. Divide your pasta into 5-6 equal parts and roll out one part at a time (keeping the rest in the dish towel until ready to work)
3. ROLLING OUT BY HAND. To roll out your pasta you need a wooden pin, or mattarello. Dust each piece lightly with flour and roll out to the desired thickness. Work quickly because the pasta dries much quicker than you might think. Cut the pasta into rectangular sheets according to the raviolatore size
4. ROLLING OUT BY MACHINE. A hand-cranked pasta machine is the best to use. Kids especially love this part. Start out using the widest setting. Run the pasta through 6-7 times, until the dough is smooth. If the sheet tears dust it with flour. Continue to run each sheet through the machine, reducing the thickness a notch at a time, until you reach the desired thickness, about notch 5. At this point follow the same procedure as for rolling out by hand
5. Dust the ravioli form - raviolatore - with some semolina flour and place one sheet of pasta on it, with some extra on each side
Note: For more info about pumpkin check Risotto con la zucca.
I would recommend to eat the ravioli the same day. You can adjust the amount of amaretti to your taste. If you reduce the amaretti you should substitute with some breadcrumbs.
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