The world of handmade pasta opened up to me in a whole new way when I got a hand-cranked pasta maker as a Christmas present. Before then, I had rolled out pasta with a rolling pin, but as much as I hate to admit it, I simply don’t seem to have the arm muscles to get the dough thin enough. Good fresh pasta has to be just delicate enough that it enhances and brings out the flavor of whatever sauce it is served with, rather than smother it with too much wheaty noodle-ness. The pasta maker makes this possible without sweating and cursing. It’s also so rewarding to watch even the shaggiest egg pasta dough, with every pass through the machine, get thinner and smoother until I have silky, even strips of dough, very easy to work with.
This winter I’ve been on a stuffed handmade pasta kick, so I thought I would share with you my pumpkin ravioli recipe. It was inspired by a conversation I had with a friend and a fellow pasta maker, in which we found ourselves fantasizing about what flavors would go well with pumpkin in a pumpkin ravioli. These came to my mind instinctively: ricotta, parmesan, thyme, walnuts.
Pumpkin walnut ricotta ravioli
- Pasta dough:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup of mashed pumpkin
- 1/3 cup of ricotta
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- fresh herbs: thyme, oregano, sage
- 1/4 cup of finely chopped walnuts
- salt and pepper to taste
To make the pasta, shape the flour into a mound on a clean counter and break the eggs into a well in the middle of it. Add olive oil and a few dashes of salt. Break up the eggs and gradually begin to bring the flour into the center from the sides until it begins to form a smooth dough. Knead the dough for a few minutes until it’s moist and firm, then set aside, wrapped in plastic, for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the filling: mix together pumpkin, the cheeses, herbs, walnuts, and salt and pepper in a bowl.
Roll out the pasta dough. If using a pasta machine, run the dough through several times, gradually adjusting the setting from the widest to the narrowest. Dust lightly with flour in between each pass through the machine. Cover the finished strips of pasta with a plastic wrap to keep them from drying out.
Cut the thin, long strips into short pieces and arrange on a counter lightly dusted with flour. Mark out squares with a square ravioli stamp and put a mounded teaspoon of the filling at the center of each square. Dampen the edges of the squares with a finger dipped in water, then place a second strip of dough on top. Seal the edges of each square. Cook in salted water for 4-5 minutes and serve with your favorite pesto or sauce. You can also freeze the ravioli for later use: simply place them in the freezer on a baking sheet; once frozen, transfer into freezer bags.