RECIPE: Pumpkin Parmesan Ravioli in Browned Sage Butter

I am connected with a group of women who gather in the kitchen every couple of months for what we call a worship session. What we are really doing is putting food up, making lots of one thing that can be stored in the freezer or canned. The last time we gathered we focused on ravioli. We made about 30 pounds of pasta that day, a truly awesome experience. One of my takeaways was this pumpkin filling, yum!

All parts of a pumpkin can be consumed in sweet and savory dishes. Any time I cut into a pumpkin I save all the seeds and toast them in the oven with a sprinkle of salt and curry, garam marsala (Indian spice), or chili powder. They make for a tasty snack, salad sprinkle or crunchy treat tossed into any pasta dish.

Pumpkins are versatile, nutritious and store well over the winter months. Pumpkins are native to the Americas and have been cultivated for 9,000 years in Central and South America. Native American tribes in New England used pumpkins as a main staple in their diet before the arrival of Europeans.

The pumpkin is in the squash family, and there are endless varieties. Most folks believe pumpkins to be orange in color, like the Jack-O-Lantern variety; however, not all are orange. One of the tastiest is a blue/green variety called Jarrahdale Blue. Pumpkins also come in white, yellow, striped, red, green, smooth and warty varieties.

Pumpkins are unique in their simplistic beauty and speak to me of a changing of the seasons, both in the incorporation into culinary fare and how they pop up as decorative autumn art. Pumpkins are typically one of the last things harvested from the garden’s bounty. My farmer reminded me of the excitement one feels watching the pumpkins swell from the vines. Pumpkins positively help you reconnect with your childhood and smile!

Pumpkin Parmesan Ravioli in Browned Sage Butter

Photo by Len Villano

Photo by Len Villano.

Roasting the Pumpkin

1 small/medium New England pie pumpkin or sugar pumpkin
2 tablespoons salted butter
a drizzle of maple syrup
1-2 cups water

Preheat oven to 375˚. Cut the pumpkin in half, scrape out the seeds and set them aside to roast later. Place a tablespoon of butter in each half of the pumpkin. Drizzle a bit of maple syrup in each half and place the halves in a baking dish, skin down. Pour water in the bottom of the pan and cover the whole dish with aluminum foil. Place in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft and can be pierced with a fork. Set aside to cool.

Making the Filling

2 cups roasted pumpkin (from the above recipe)
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons Italian parsley
salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor add two cups of roasted pumpkin (removed from skins), cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Puree the pumpkin until the texture is smooth; if the consistency is too thick add a tablespoon of water, white wine or chicken stock. Add the Parmesan cheese, chopped parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

Variations:  Add ½ cup of crumbled cooked sausage to the filling and/or substitute Feta cheese for the Parmesan.

Ravioli Assembly

Photo by Len Villano

Photo by Len Villano

wonton wrappers*
pumpkin filling
warm water

Place a wonton wrapper on a floured work surface. Place a spoonful of filling in the center of the wrapper. Wet the edges of the wrapper with warm water (it’s best to use your fingers for this step). Place another wrapper on top and press the edges together (make sure you release any excess air). Repeat until all filling is used up. Do not stack the ravioli when they are assembled; they tend to stick together. I lay them out on a lightly floured cookie sheet in a single layer.

*Wonton wrappers can be found in the grocery freezer section and work great as a quick ravioli wrapper. Defrost the package of wrappers before you start this project so they are ready to go when you get to this step.

Making the Sauce

1 stick of salted butter
fresh whole sage leaves
toasted pecans – chopped for garnish
shredded Parmesan for garnish
salt and pepper to taste

In a small sauté pan over low heat melt the butter and let it simmer until it turns brown. As the butter begins to simmer residue will separate and form on the top of the heated butter.  Using a spoon, remove the residue. Keep the heat low – there’s a fine line between browning the butter and burning the butter. Add the whole sage leaves to the hot butter right before you remove it from the heat; they will crisp up immediately. Add salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Preparing the Dish

Bring a stockpot of water to a rapid boil. Place the ravioli in the water, three or four at a time, and keep an eye on the pot. They do not take long to finish, about three to four minutes. You will know they are done when the ravioli are floating.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the ravioli from the water and repeat until they are all cooked. Plate up the ravioli, spoon the brown butter and sage (three to four leaves per plate) on the top. Finish with a sprinkle of shredded Parmesan cheese and toasted pecans. Makes four to six servings. Bon appetit!