A while back a friend of mine jokingly told me that she’s never met a pasta she didn’t like. I must say I agree. A couple of weekends ago I decided it was time to take my relationship with pasta to the next level by making my own, and pasta-making may have quickly become one of my favorite kitchen activities. And let me tell you, it is far less complicated than I had thought…but far more messy! There are many recipes for fresh egg pasta out there, some very simple, some slightly more complex. I started with one of the very simple ones courtesy of Mario Batali. You can make any kind of pasta you like using this basic recipe; I made butternut squash ravioli. This recipe makes about 15-20 medium-sized ravioli.
You will need:
For the pasta dough:
- 4 extra large eggs
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1/2 tsp olive oil
For the filling:
- 1/2 large butternut squash, cubed (about 3 cups)
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 vanilla pod
- 2 tbsp salted butter
For the sauce:
- 1/2 stick salted butter
- 4 fresh sage leaves
- Handful raw walnuts, coarsely chopped
- Parmesan cheese to taste
Pile flour into a mound in the center of a large wooden cutting board and create a deep well in the middle. Beat together the eggs and oil (and any other desired flavorings) and pour into well. Using a fork or preferably your hands (my tool of choice), begin incorporating flour into egg, starting with the inner rim of the well. As you incorporate flour, keep pushing the flour up to retain the well shape but do not by any means fret if the whole process is a runny mess! It definitely was for me, but the dough started to come together when about half of the flour was incorporated into the egg mixture. Once that happens, you can move onto the next step: the all-important kneading process. Do not underestimate the importance of kneading or knead for less time than required; the process helps warm and stretch the gluten strands and gives the dough the elastic texture you are after, which is key to a light pasta.
Once the dough starts coming together, place on a lightly floured surface and begin kneading it with your palms to incorporate all the remaining flour. Once the dough becomes cohesive, re-flour the work surface and continue kneading for about 3 more minutes or until the dough is elastic and slightly sticky. Re-flour your work surface and knead the dough for 3-4 more minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. Once rested, roll dough out into 1/4 to1/2 inch thickness using a rolling pin, and run through pasta press to produce desired shapes.
For the filling, cut half a large butternut squash into 1-inch cubes. Heat 2 tbsp butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add squash, salt, freshly cracked black pepper and freshly grated nutmeg, and sautée until squash cubes begin to soften. Drizzle 1/2 cup hot water (or vegetable stock if desired) onto squash, toss in a whole vanilla pod, and cover pan. Let steam until squash is extremely tender, about 15 minutes. Once fully cooked, toss out vanilla pod and mash squash with a fork. You can do this with a food processor, but I opted for doing it manually with a fork to retain some texture (I didn’t want it to resemble baby food).
Once pasta is rolled out, cut out ravioli shapes using a cookie cutter or ravioli mold. I don’t have a ravioli mold so I just used a glass to cut out round shapes. Place 1 tsp filling onto pasta circle, cover with another circle, and mash edges together with a fork to seal. Boil ravioli for 5-6 minutes, until al dente. Meanwhile, heat remaining quantity of butter over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, until golden brown. Add sage leaves and walnuts and heat for 2-3 more minutes, until flavors infuse. Drizzle butter sauce over ravioli, garnish with parmesan, and serve warm.
In good health,