Every week I like to make a trip to the farmers’ market. It’s a nice way to spend a Saturday morning. I peruse the produce, I buy some fresh cheese, and I have a chat with the vendors. I’ve been going every Saturday morning for about six years. I was good friends with, and on a first name basis with, one of the vendors (before he left last year), and every Saturday we’d take a few minutes to chat about our weeks. We were on such good terms that he used to know my order, without me having to say anything. While chatting about this or that, he would fill my grocery bag with carrots, potatoes, tomatoes and whatever else I would buy.
Anyway, he’s gone now, but I do still have my potato lady. And my apple guy. The other week, I was talking to the potato lady, and noticed that she had some fresh squash. I decided to pick up a small butternut, not quite sure what I was going to make with it that week. I got home, and inspiration struck. Butternut squash ravioli! I haven’t made fresh pasta in a while, but figured there’s no better time than the present to bust out my pasta machine. There’s nothing quite like the taste of fresh pasta. The recipe I used is almost exclusively vegan, save for an egg wash I used to close the ravioli squares. But there are lots of substitutes you can use, including a flax seed option (grind 1 tbsp flax seed, mix with 3 tbsp water until it forms a paste and voila!). They turned out delicious (if a little misshapen) and a lot easier than you would think.
Fun Fact of the Day: You can grow squash practically anywhere in Canada. Basically, anywhere below the tree line. And once harvested, will last anywhere from two to six months in storage. You can cook with squash well into the winter months!
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1.5 cups water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 medium butternut squash
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp cayenne
- 1 tsp paprika (I used hot paprika)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1.5 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 1 egg
- You’ll have to make the dough first, as it needs to sit and rest for a bit before you roll it out. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl, and slowly add in 1 cup of the water. Mix together, and if you find it’s too dry, add the remaining water 1 tbsp at a time until there are no spots left in the dough. Cover with a towel, and place it in the fridge to chill. I find chilling the dough makes it easier to work with afterward.
- Now, work on the squash. Preheat oven to 400F. Wash and then cut the squash in half, length wise. Remove the seeds. Brush maple syrup on squash, then brush with oil, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, and cinnamon. Place cut side down in a baking dish and bake for about 40 minutes (or more, depending on the size of your squash) until tender.
- Now, you wait. Have a drink. Read the paper. Look at fun cat YouTube videos.
- When the squash is cooked, take it out of the oven and set it aside to cool while you work on the pasta.
- On a floured board, cut your dough into approximately 12 even sized balls. Roll out into flat-ish rounds with a rolling pin.
- Now, if you have a pasta machine, here is where your life will be made easy. If you don’t, it will take a bit of elbow grease and time, but it will still be doable. You’ll just have to roll out thin even strips of dough using your rolling pin. But if you have a pasta machine, roll the dough through until it is nice and thin, almost like lasagna noodles. Dust with flour and set aside as you keep working on the rest of the balls.
- If you have a ravioli cutter, good for you! I didn’t, so I just cut approximately 2-inch squares using a very sharp knife. I cut and cut and cut some more until my kitchen was covered in little 2-inch squares of pasta.
- By this point, your squash should be cool enough to make the filling. Peel the skin off (which, if it’s fully roasted, should come right off, like peeling a banana) and mash the flesh in a bowl. Add a little more seasoning if you like.
- Fill half the squares with a spoonful of the squash filling. Beat the egg in a small bowl, and brush the edges of each square with the egg mixture. Cover with the remaining half of the dough squares, and press the edges with the tines of a fork to seal them (and create the lovely decorative trim!). Soon, you’ll have a kitchen full of squash ravioli.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Once boiling, salt the water and add the ravioli. Fresh pasta won’t take very long to cook. Mine took about six minutes.
- Drain, and serve with your favourite toppings. I had mine with some spicy tomato sauce. But you could do pesto, butter, or cheese. Whatever you like.
- And now, you eat! Enjoy!
It’s not very difficult to make these homemade ravioli, but it can be a bit time consuming. Once the squash came out of the oven and I started rolling out the dough, it was approximately an hour later that they were cooked and ready to serve. Not a fast meal, but a delicious meal!
Paolo Zinatelli is a writer for Spectator Tribune. Follow him at: @paoloz5