Butternut Squash, Asiago & Walnut Ravioli with Brown ButterRavioli Dough:
3 cups semolina flour
½ tsp olive oilMound the flour on a wood cutting board, creating a well in the center for the eggs and olive oil. Using a fork, slowly incorporate the eggs, oil and flour, slowly pulling in more flour as the ingredients are blended. You’ll need to continuously reshape the mound to maintain the integrity of the well shape.
Once about half of the flour is incorporated, you should be able to start kneading the dough by hand. Once it’s all come together remove the dough from the board and scrape up any leftover bits and discard. Reflour the board and knead the dough for about six minutes; it should be elastic and a little sticky. Ball up the dough and wrap it in plastic. Let it rest at room temperature for a half an hour.
Butternut Squash Filling:
1 large butternut squash (about 3 lbs)
1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp hot chile flake
1 ½ tsp honey
¾ tsp coarse sea salt
5 oz fresh grated asiago
Peel and seed squash and cut into 1/4-inch cubes. Combine squash, walnuts, olive oil, chile flakes, honey and sea salt in a bowl. Toss ingredients until completely coated with oil. Pour out onto baking sheet and cook in 350-degree oven for a half hour, stirring every 10 minutes.
Turn temperature on oven up to 500 degrees and cook squash mixture for 10 minutes more or until squash are tender. Let cool.
In food processor, combine squash mixture and cheese. Blend until ingredients are almost smooth. Scoop squash mixture into a pastry bag or Ziploc, cutting off one corner to squeeze out filling.
Cut your dough in half, forming each segment into a ball with your hands. Wrap one in plastic and set aside. On a large, lightly floured surface, roll out your pasta dough into a rectangle until it is about ¼-inch thick. Fold in half and roll out again. Repeat this four more times, rolling dough out thinner each time. Roll the dough out until it’s about 1/8-inch thick. Pipe filling out onto dough strip at 1-inch intervals, about ½-inch in from the edge. Fold the ½-inch of dough over and press to seal edges and individual filling pockets. Cut ravioli with a dough scraper–you may want to trim the edges with a kitchen scissor–crimping the edges closed with a fork. If you have a pastry roller, you can separate the ravioli using that, too. Put finished ravioli on a cookie sheet dusted with cornmeal until ready to use. You can also freeze them.
To serve: Bring a large pot of seasoned water to a boil. Add ravioli and cook for about five minutes or until ravioli are floating at the top. Drain.
In a sauté, melt ¼ cup of butter, allowing it to foam. As the bubbles dissipate the butter will brown, remove from heat.
Ladle six ravioli into a dish. Top with 2 tablespoons brown butter and finish with fresh-grated asiago and a drizzle of walnut oil.
Brix is changing! Don’t worry, change is good. I’ll be taking a little time off of writing to put the finishing touches on my blog’s new look. Feel free to email if you have any cooking or wine pairing questions at email@example.com.
Wine of the Week: 2006 Elio Grasso “Gavarini” Nebbiolo d’Alba
The garlicky, earthy flavors of our New Year’s cotechino con lenticche paired exquisitely with this fresh Nebbiolo from Italy’s Elio Grasso. Its high-toned cherry, rose petal and tarry notes on the nose were intoxicating, while the fine-grained tannins and lively acidity cut through the fattiness of the sausage. Each sip made you want to take another sip, then take a bite, then take another sip.
Elio Grasso is easily one of the top Barolo producers; his estate precariously carved into the hillsides outside the town of Monforte d’Alba. This is Grasso’s entry-level wine, made from the same grape as Barolo, without the requisite aging. The fruit comes from the 1.2-hectare Gavarini Vineyard, a south-facing site perched at 350-380 meters above sea level. Its loosely-packed, well-drained limestone soils are ideal for growing Nebbiolo, keeping vigor low and allowing for balanced, concentrated berries. Elio works most of the vineyards himself, leaving his son Gianluca in the cellar more and more.
Butternut Squash, Asiago & Walnut Ravioli with Brown Butter
Why are people so willing to start off the New Year with pie-in-the-sky expectations—thinking New Year’s Eve is going to be some transformational event—only to go to a large party, get sloppy drunk and end up in bed with a stranger? No wonder New Year’s is always a disappointment? I’m not trying to be Negative Nancy here, it just seems our New Year’s traditions are, shall I say, a little lacking.
What we know as New Year’s Eve is, essentially, an arbitrary designation made by two Roman consuls in 153 BC. Before that, the holiday was celebrated on March 15. And there are plenty of cultures that don’t even follow the Roman calendar, celebrating their New Year in the fall like Rosh Hashana—the Jewish New Year, or February, like the Chinese.
Normally, having spent much of my adult life in the restaurant business, I work on New Year’s Eve. The money is fantastic and, unlike my non-working friends, I wake up January 1st feeling refreshed. But at the beginning of December my dear friend Brooke, of Foodwoolf, and I were eating lunch at Joan’s On Third, when our cheese-pusher, Chester, mentioned he’d just gotten in the sausage for a traditional Italian New Year’s dish, cotechino con lenticche—cotechino with lentils. Continue reading
Every Monday night when I was a freshman in high school my father and I made dinner. My mother would leave us chicken breasts, but the rest was up to us. We liked to stir-fry a lot in those days and we loved to play in the spice cabinet, opening random bottles and sprinkling on a whim, dusting the countertops a mottled pattern of ochre, crimson and green. Often we added peanut butter. We could never duplicate a dish and, to be honest, there were plenty of times we didn’t want to. But every now and then we hit our stride and the flavors were fantastic. Sometimes we ordered pizza. Continue reading
Cooking, for me, is generally a solitary task, a moment to meditate. Alone, peeling carrots or chopping fennel isn’t a mundane task, but standing Zazen meditation. It allows me a moment with my senses, captivated by the way an onion’s odor transforms in the pan with a little bit of olive oil, how it loosens its astringent veil to reveal a sweet, earthen core. Cooking alone is like solving a Sunday New York Times crossword or other puzzle—carefully strategizing when to start each component of a dish or meal so that everything finishes hot and perfectly cooked at the same time.
Cooking with friends and family is an entirely different animal. Full of laughter, bumping into one another, tasting and, occasionally, smoke alarms. It’s sharing a delightful secret with the people you’re cooking with. Continue reading