Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Skinny Alfredo Sauce and Candied Squash: Joe's Birthday Dinner

I realize there is so much to this post; I'm not completely sure where to start. So I guess I'll start with a Happy Birthday to Joe since that is what inspired me to make this dinner in the first place. I know, you thought we ate like this every night, right? ;-) 

This dish is actually Joe's recipe. He created it for a cooking class final a few years back. His team won, enough said. That's right ladies, I'm one lucky gal! He came up with the filling recipe and the overall idea. He says it can really be topped with any sort of sauce, I just really like this Skinny Alfredo Sauce from The Comfort of Cooking. Please do check out that full recipe because she uses it on spaghetti squash, and the end result is to die for! So even if you decide that there is absolutely no way on earth that you'll ever make your own ravioli, please try the sauce. It's de-lish! 

Or, if you're not up for the alfredo sauce, try the ravioli filling below on any pasta dish with the candied squash topping. What I'm trying to say is that you've got options and are only limited by your creativity. That's how I like to cook. I don't believe that any of this is exclusive to just one recipe. If you think it sounds good, then it probably will. Be brave my friends!

I also need to give a few thank you's now before I get into the recipe details for making the dinner extra special. Thanks to our friends, John and Kim, for the super awesome KitchenAid Pasta Roller Attachments! We've used these several times now, and wow do we love them. Making pasta is actually really fun with these. So thanks John and Kim for the great wedding gift. It really was such a wonderful gift to get and one we wouldn't have gotten for ourselves for a very long time. Let us know the next time you're in Dayton so we can make some pasta for you!

Thanks also to Bahram and Miriam for the lovely table cloth. Also a wedding present, and it really helped make the evening feel special. And thanks to Kathy and Tom for the excellent wine tonight. We really enjoyed drinking the Castoro Zinfusion. If you've never had Castoro wine, please check it out. It's really really delicious and very reasonably priced. This wine was a double gold medal winner for 2012, and that was very deserved praises.

Pretty white Mikasa table cloth and delicious Castoro Zinfusion

And finally thanks to Jeanie and Vic for the California cutting board. It's such a great memory of our first year married, living in Pasadena!

Isn't it cute?

We're really have wonderful friends and family. What a blessing! 

Sorry, I warned you that there was a lot to this post. :-) But finally without further ado, the recipe:

Butternut Squash Filling
2 1/2 cups cubed butternut squash, steamed
1 1/4 cup freshly shredded parmesan
1 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
Directions: Steam the squash until it is soft enough to mash with a fork, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. In a medium bowl, mix together the cheeses. Add the steamed squash and mash it all together with a fork. Place in fridge until ready to stuff the ravioli.

Homemade Pasta
3 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 eggs
2 Tbsp water; plus more as needed
Directions: Combine all ingredients in the bowl of the KitchenAid stand mixer (or a food processor) and mix for 30 seconds. Switch to the dough hook (or dough blade) and mix on low for 2 minutes. Kneed by hand for another 1-2 minutes. Set aside for 20 minutes before rolling.

This is what it will look like after mixing in the stand mixer.

This is what you want it to look like once you finish kneeding by hand. It should all combine and be stretchy and elastic. If it's crumbling you need to add more liquid. I've made the mistake a few times now in not adding enough liquid. It's a nightmare!

Once the dough has relaxed for 20 minutes, it's time to use the KitchenAid attachments. Yay! This part is really pretty fun if the dough is moist enough. If it's not moist enough you'll get a crumbly mess and a lot of tears in your dough. You will want to cut the ball of dough into eight approximately equal parts. Some of you may want to measure this with a kitchen scale. I won't stop you, but I won't be joining you either. I'm not that exact of a chef, sorry. Once you get a section cut off, you'll want to flatten it so it's about 3/8" thick. You can see in the picture below what it should look like.

Follow the directions starting on level one working your way up until you achieve the desired thickness you want. I went up to 7 and stopped there. You don't want to overwork the dough or it will become unusable. 

In the end you need a piece of dough that will be long enough and wide enough to go over your ravioli form. 

Finished dough waiting on the drying rack

What if I don't own a ravioli form or these fancy attachments you ask? You can totally do this by hand with a rolling pin and a glass.  Find the directions here

At this point, you want to get your ravioli filling out of the fridge and start filling the ravioli as you have the dough ready.
I put about a 1/2 tablespoon of filling in each of my ravioli, but it will just totally depend on how big you make them. This is really subjective.

I covered the filled dough with a second length of dough and used a rolling pin to adhere the two sides together. I still had to cut many of them apart with a knife, but this sealed them well!

Place the ravioli on a piece of floured wax paper on a baking sheet. Make sure to add more flour to the top of the ravioli before covering them. I put the finished pieces in the fridge until we were ready to eat.

Once you're actually ready to cook them, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add a splash of olive oil to the water to keep the ravioli from sticking to each other. Add the pasta to the water and bring back to a boil. It will take between 5-8 minutes for them to cook. Fresh pasta cooks very quickly. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and add more pasta as you're ready to eat it. I like to keep the water boiling and add the pasta just before it's going to be eaten.

Now on to the toppings!

Candied Squash
2 cups squash cut into 1/2" cubes
1 1/2 Tbsp melted butter
1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch of salt
Directions: Preheat the oven to 375˚. Melt the butter in a microwave safe bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together. Spread onto a glass baking dish and cook for 40-50 minutes turning the squash every 15 minutes.

Roasted Squash Seeds
Remove the seeds when you are cubing the squash. Place in a bowl of salt water to soak for a few minutes to a few hours. (It doesn't matter how long they soak.) When you're ready to bake them, preheat the oven to 325˚ and place on a baking sheet. Roast for at least 15 minutes. If you've soaked them for a long time, you'll have to roast them for longer. You will know when they are done because you'll hear them popping, and you'll smell them.

Why, oh why do people throw these away? They are awesome and really not hard to make.

Skinny Alfredo Sauce
1 Tbsp butter
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup of fat-free milk
1 Tbsp Neufchatel cream cheese
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp freshly grated black pepper
Directions: Melt the butter in a small pot over medium-low heat. Once hot, add the garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes. Whisk in flour, cooking for another minute while stirring. Whisk in milk until no lumps remain. Once hot, add cream cheese and stir until smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan, salt and pepper.

Plate up the cooked ravioli, topping it with sauce, candied squash and roasted squash seeds.

Bon Appétit



  1. ok, I will try this again. WOW, what a blog entry!! That recipe sounds absolutely fabulous. We will definitely try it at some point. And thank you for featuring the wine!! Now we have to update your tempranillo (sp-I don't even know how to spell it!!) collection. The 2012 Castoro just was declared the Best Tempranillo in California!!! The judging was at the Ca. State Fair.

  2. Wow, you're making my mouth water! :) And happy birthday to Joe!