Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Butternut Squash & Mozzarella Ravioli

The Bean and I made Homemade pasta a couple of Sundays ago. This process is always so much fun and the end result is spectacular! I know I typically share every little detail for the recipe that I use, but today will be a little less of that and more so focused I tips I have for making your own pasta. I will share the recipe I use - but I am not precise at all with this, so I'd recommend experimenting with some of you favorite flavors!

My family has a pasta attachment that hooks on to our Kitchen Aid and I use the regular pasta recipe that comes in the instruction manual. It's 3 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 4 eggs and 2 tablespoons of water. Make a well with the dry ingredients (combined flour & salt) and crack the eggs into the center of the well. Add the water also to the center of the well. The dry ingredients will slowly be incorporated as you beat the eggs.

The dough will be verrryy dry! You'll need to add more water until it holds together properly - I recommend adding water 1-2 tablespoons at a time until the dough forms a mass. I usually use my hands to mix the dough near the end as the dough is too tough for a wooden spoon or fork.

When my pasta dough is ready, I let it sit as I combine the filling. However, if I have a helper (like the Bean!) I get her to start putting the pasta through the kitchen aid while I combine the filling. There is no recipe that accompanies the filling - I just saw someone make something similar on a cooking show when I was 11 or 12 and I knew I would love it! So, I combine some cooked butternut squash, grated mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper in the food processor.

I think you could technically fill the pasta with anything that mashes up in the food processor - I might do a little research before you experiment. I tried filling half of the ravioli with 4 cheeses - mozzarella, cheddar, parmesan and gouda. And it wasn't great, I need to do a little cheese pasta research before I make it again!

I put the pasta through the pasta attachment to the 4 or 5 notch, then I lay the sheet of pasta out on wax paper. It is best if the pasta lays flat because it is SO sticky - so if any part of it is folded for any length of time it will stick and pulling it apart is messy!

I set 2 sheets of pasta out before I start filling - one serves as the bottom and holds the filling the other will be placed over the top to seal the raviolis.
I used a heaping half teaspoon of butternut squash filling and placed them in heaps along the sheet of pasta. There needs to be enough space between each filling to seal the ravioli and cut it out. Place a second sheet of pasta over the top of the filled pasta, and brush a beaten egg around each filling to seal the individual raviolis. Make sure the raviolis are well sealed because they burst open easily when they are placed in water.

The Bean was on cutting duty. as I was prepping more sheets of pasta, she used a special little knife to cut out the ravioli - it looks like a pizza cutter, but the edge is bumpy to give the edge of the ravioli shape. When each ravioli is cut out, it needs to be left out on wax paper to dry a bit and it cannot be touching other noodles because it will stick! And by stick, I mean meld into a whole new noodle that will not separate!!

So, set the noodles out and let them dry a bit! This is especially important if you are packaging the pasta (and freezing it). If you are freezing the pasta, I would even recommend dusting a little flour over it to avoid sticking!
If you are cooking the pasta right away, it cooks fast! I think it was about 4-5 minutes (maybe less!). If the pasta is frozen it will take longer - about 8-10 minutes.
I serve the butternut squash & mozzarella ravioli with butter and caramelized onions because I think the squash flavor would be too much with an added sauce - but you could serve it however you like!

This recipe makes about 80-90 small raviolis, but this number could vary depending on how big you cut the raviolis.

Here is a round of a few tips:
1. Add extra water to the dough - the dough will be tough and elastic-like, but hold together once enough water is added.
2. Put the dough through the pasta attachment starting at one and working up to the fourth or fifth notch. At first the dough will likely rip or have holes in its middle after going through the machine. Continue to fold up the dough until it forms a flat and smooth sheet. Gradually build up to the fourth or fifth notch - the dough will get less sticky the more it goes through the machine.
3. Lay the sheets of dough out on wax paper, careful to not let any parts tough as they will stick.
4. Use a heaping half teaspoon to fill the raviolis.
5. Brush a beaten egg around the filling before placing the second sheet of ravioli over the top of the first layer. Press the top layer down firmly to seal the raviolis.
6. Use a pizza cutter or similar knife to cut out the raviolis.
7. When the raviolis are cut out, place them on piece of wax paper, still being careful not to let them touch. When they sit on top of each other they stick and pulling them apart rips the dough - it gets messy fast! So, I recommend keeping the noodles away from each other as much as possible. You could dust some flour on top of the ravioli to help prevent sticking.
8. When you put the pasta in boiling water to cook it - try not to mess with it too much! The pasta breaks so easily and the more it is handled the more likelihood there is that it will break.

And that's it! It's a process and it goes much faster will 2 people than 1! Let me know if you have questions!

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