Pumpkin Ravioli with Brown Butter Sage Sauce (Recipe)
When you travel to Florida in November to see your bestie, who just so happens to be a food enthusiast just like you, and just so happens to share a love of all things “Friends” with you, there’s really only one thing you must do: Host a Friendsgiving. And that’s just what we did.
A few months before the established date, my bestie invited a few other couples to the event and started a Facebook group, where we all posted recipe ideas. A couple of weeks before the big day, we settled on a theme: Italian, but with a Fall/Thanksgiving twist. I immediately posted to the group, “Joe and I can make pumpkin ravioli!” A few blue thumbs up later, and we got to planning.
And then we started packing our suitcase. And we remembered the 50-lb weight limit. And we looked at our 10-lb pasta maker and said, “Oh shit.” I didn’t even think about trying to get the thing past TSA in my carry-on: “Ma’am, why are you bringing this miniature torture device onto the plane?”
Slowly, the image of the little squash-filled pillows on the Friendsgiving table started to fade. I’d already come up with a back-up recipe: the butternut squash lasagna from Seriously Delish. Essentially the same flavors, but casserole-style.
Florida greeted us with sunshine and daily activities (centered around which restaurant we’d be dining at that day, of course). Before we knew it, it was the day before Friendsgiving.
“So, I’m thinking we go get the lasagna ingredients…” I began.
“Wait, what?” said Joe. “I really want to make that ravioli.”
I reminded him we had no pasta maker. I could almost see his Italian bloodline rising up inside him, causing his muscles to tense underneath his shirt. “We have a rolling pin.”
Ladies and gentlemen, you can’t say “no” to an Italian when it comes to fresh pasta.
Friendsgiving Day arrived, and sure enough (though it took a lot more muscle and we couldn’t get the pasta sheets quite as thin as we would’ve liked), before we knew it, we had 36 little pockets of pumpkin-y perfection ready to go.
Homemade pasta is always a production; compared to boxed pasta, it takes freakin’ forever. But then again, compared to boxed pasta, it’s so much better. You don’t know the meaning of the term al dente until you eat fresh pasta—it has a bite and texture to it that set it apart as a singular component of the meal, all on its own. Copious amounts of egg yolk gives it a rich taste and golden yellow color.
In short, it’s hard to beat fresh pasta. And when it’s Friendsgiving, why not go all out?
Our pumpkin ravioli featured a filling made from canned pumpkin (the one easy shortcut in this process), goat cheese, toasted pine nuts, and sautéed shallots with garlic and fresh sage. I’ll admit, Joe was the major orchestrator of this dish—I just assisted here and there (especially when it came time to fill and cut the ravioli—that was a three-person job) and watched him work his magic. I will take credit for one thing—I added in way more goat cheese than he’d originally planned. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 35 years on this planet, it’s that it’s nearly impossible to add too much goat cheese.
We capped off the dish with a brown butter (HEY-YO!) sage sauce, toasted pecans, and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.
You’ll notice that this recipe doesn’t include instructions for the actual pasta, nor the brown butter. There are a million-and-one pasta recipes out there; as for us, we used this one. And no one knows brown butter like Jessica from How Sweet Eats, so head over to there to learn how to do that part.
A word of caution: You may, as I did on Friendsgiving Day, find yourself manning the boiling pasta while simultaneously being yelled at by two overly-excited, slightly inebriated Italians. Whatever you do, trust your instincts about when the pasta is done cooking, not the insistent exclamations they keep throwing your way. Pasta doesn’t cook that much more after you take it out of the pot.
And when in doubt, make extra for tasting purposes.
Pumpkin Ravioli with Brown Butter Sage Sauce
Cook time: 20 min | Total time: 3 hrs 30 min | Yields 50
Prepare the filling:
Sauté 2 sliced shallots for about five minutes in 1 Tbsp olive oil heated in a skillet on medium heat. Mix in 3 cloves of minced garlic, 2 chopped fresh sage leaves, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and about 1 tsp each of salt and pepper. Sauté an additional 1 - 2 minutes. In a food processor, combine the shallot mixture with 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts and pulse about 30 seconds, until the filling is very smooth. In a standing mixer or with a hand mixer, combine the shallot/pine nut mixture, 1 15-ounce can of pumpkin, and 4 ounces of softened goat cheese until well combined. Set aside while the pasta is being made.
Fill the pasta:
Roll out enough sheets of pasta to make fifty 1.5-inch round ravioli if the filling is spaced about an inch-and-a-half apart (the linked recipe makes *plenty* of dough). You'll need two sheets for each "set" of ravioli (one sheet is placed on top of the dollops of filling). Lay out two sheets of pasta side-by-side. Brush egg wash on one sheet. Cover remaining sheets with moistened kitchen towel to keep them from drying out. Place two rows of small spoonfuls of filling (about ½ Tbsp) along the sheet, leaving about 1.5 inches in between dollops. Brush the second sheet with egg wash, then carefully place it wash-side down over the first sheet. Use your fingers to press down around the filling mounds, creating a seal between the two sheets. Use a decorative cookie cutter, ravioli cutter, or even just a kitchen knife to cut the ravioli. Crimp the edges with a fork. Place the ravioli on a cookie sheet and cover with a moistened kitchen towel, and repeat this process until you have made all of the ravioli.
Prepare the brown butter sauce:
Prepare 2 sticks’ worth of brown butter according to How Sweet Eats' link (I'm telling you, it's a foolproof way of making brown butter). Remove the brown butter from heat. Stir in about 1 tsp salt and pepper. Gently squeeze 4 fresh sage leaves a bit to release some of their oils, then add to the butter and stir to coat. Cover and let sit for 10-15 minutes while the pasta is cooking (this allows the sage flavor to steep in the butter).
Cook the pasta:
Boil a large pot of water, adding in 1 - 2 Tbsp of salt. Gently add the ravioli to the water (I typically use a large spoon or basket ladle for this). Boil for 4 - 9 minutes (pull one out after 4 minutes to check doneness). Remove cooked ravioli with slotted spoon and place in large mixing bowl.
Prepare the dish:
Remove sage leaves from brown butter. Drizzle sauce over cooked ravioli and toss gently to coat. Transfer ravioli into a serving dish. Top with chopped toasted pecans and Parmesan cheese. Garnish with fresh sage leaves.
Most pasta machines will make sheets wide enough to place two rows of "dollops," side by side. You need enough room around the filling so the sheets will meet and seal, but not so much that air pockets will develop.
I put the filling in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag, snipped a corner off, and piped the filling onto the sheets. It goes much more quickly than spooning the filling.
If you're not going to cook the pasta for a while, cover the cookie sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate.