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Guest Chef
November 2014



Pink Pumpkin Ravioli in Sage Butter

Pink Pumpkin Ravioli
By Dennis Linden

This month’s delicious seasonal recipe comes from the drawing board of Melissa’s Art Director, Kelly Rowe. And, no, do not expect a plate of pink pasta! Porcelain Doll pumpkins have a light pink skin and vibrant orange interior. A nationwide cancer prevention campaign for retailers has been organized by its developers to coincide with the harvest of this crop. A donation to breast cancer research for every Pink Pumpkin sold will be contributed to a nonprofit organization dubbed the Pink Pumpkin Patch. While any variety of cooking pumpkin could be used for this dish, Kelly wanted to tip his Guest Chef’s toque to this cancer prevention program in his ingredient list. So Buy Pink when you see them on display at your local retailer, it’s a great cause!

As one can imagine, considering Melissa’s large line of branded products and all that goes into the visual side of marketing a label nationally, Kelly Rowe, Melissa’s Art Director of ten years, heads one of busiest departments in the company. Kelly’s team designs all retail packaging and the Point of Sale printed material that supports each product. He is also responsible for coordinating and overseeing tradeshow and truck graphics, food photography, and print production. It’s quite a juggling act that Kelly handles with professional calmness that belies the daily deadline pressures that come with the job. Kelly continues this multi-tasking lifestyle outside of the office in managing his many interests.

Kelly Rowe

“I'm into traveling, kayaking, sailing, and cooking, as well as just hanging out with my family and grandkids,” said Kelly. “In fact, this recipe was inspired by a cooking class that we took during a recent trip to Italy. The class was held in a 13th century farmhouse in a small Tuscan village. We learned how to make pasta from scratch,” he explained, adding, “So I adapted a Butternut Squash Ravioli, subbing in the Pink Pumpkin instead. And I think I like the pumpkin version better!”

This is a very fun recipe that does require a bit of time, patience, an appreciation for the culinary process and probably a few glasses of your favorite grape vintage to complete. Kelly breaks his recipe down into an easy-to-follow order of prep of each of the dish’s components: the pasta filling, the pasta itself and a reduction sauce. Stick with the sequence he outlines; a few hours of culinary fun in the kitchen will reward with this tasty, rich dish that will bring a little bit of Tuscany to your own table.

Actually, I found the pink Porcelain Doll pumpkin to be more than just a pretty face. The variety has a very thin skin, making it very easy to peel. Thin skin means less pithy, inedible outer pulp and more useable pumpkin meat. So the variety is a good buy as well as a worthy cause. Win-win!

A few things about the pasta flours in this recipe. Kelly explained that “00” is a high-gluten flour the Italians use. He recommended a King Arthur brand that can be found in most upscale grocers; I found it online easily and had it shipped in a few days. Semolina, a high-protein flour made from Durum wheat, creates a stronger gluten structure, allowing for more pliable dough. Fresh pasta has a different texture and flavor than dried pasta. The high gluten level in the flour gives the dough a good elasticity and robustness. You will find that when rolling this 3:1 mix of flours, that the dough will almost snap back in place, but have patience; keep rolling and eventually the dough will stay put, becoming quite pliable, responding to every roll yet keeping its shape in-between rolls.

This recipe is still entirely doable even if you do not have a pasta machine. In fact, supporting the point, I made this recipe without using mine. Actually, it was out of necessity as my machine has no #6 setting, or equivalent pasta disc, so I got out my trusty rolling pin and rolled until the dough was paper thin. Of course, the key to any dough, for bread or pasta, is in the kneading. My rule is to knead until my hands are too tired to continue, then knead for another five minutes! In fact, not only did I knead the flour into the loaf of dough pictured, I then kneaded each section again before rolling it out into a sheet for the ravioli making. Kneading dough is not glamorous and there are no short-cuts to the process. For me, watching the flour and eggs transform in my hands from a crumbly mess to a very pliable, almost elastic, loaf that responds to the touch is fascinating to experience. Again, patience is the main ingredient here.

I admit to detouring, just a noodle, instead of following Kelly’s easy instructions on hand-forming each ravioli. After doing it Kelly’s way for a few raviolis, I used the opportunity to finally use a Ravioli Maker “cut and seal” form plate that has been languishing in my cupboard for years—waiting for Kelly’s recipe, I decided! It produces 12 uniform little raviolis with the roll of a pin and I am sure can be found in most any specialty kitchen shop. The recipe below presents both methods—it’s a reader’s choice.

While making pasta is always fun, the true stars of Kelly’s dish are the pumpkin filling that goes into the raviolis and the creamy scrumptious sauce that is poured on them. The pasta is really just the delivery vehicle for these two components that I think I could just eat directly by the heaping spoonful! I exaggerate, of course, but the point is that they are both DELICIOUS! I will say that I ran out of Sage Butter Sauce plating four servings using Kelly’s measurements. Although, my enthusiasm for this wonderfully complex sauce might have been a factor that influenced my serving portions. Nevertheless, it would not hurt to double up this part of the recipe; I guarantee there will be no leftovers regardless of the number being served.

So pour a long-stemmed glass of your favorite beverage, put on an apron and enjoy a delicious souvenir from Kelly Rowe’s trip to Tuscany...

Pink Pumpkin Ravioli in Sage Butter
Serves 4-6


Ingredients:  Pink Pumpkin Ravioli in Sage Butter

Ingredients

8 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
1 pound Fresh Pink Pumpkin, peeled and cut in 1 inch cubes
2 cups Heavy Cream, divided use
½ Bay Leaf
2 tablespoons Fresh Sage, minced, divided use, plus 6 small leaves for garnish
2 teaspoons Fresh Thyme Leaves, divided use
Pinch of Nutmeg
2 Eggs, beaten
Salt and Freshly Ground White Pepper
3 cups 00 Flour
1 cup Semolina Flour
Pinch of Salt
4 Eggs
4 Tablespoons XVOO (or 4 Half Eggshells Full)
2 cups Chicken Stock
2 Shallots, chopped

Preparation:

Pumpkin Stuffing:

Chop Pumpkin

Over low heat, heat 4 tbsp. of the butter in a heavy skillet.

When butter starts to foam, add pumpkin and cook, stirring often, until it softens.

Over low heat, heat 4 tbsp. of the butter in a heavy skillet.  When butter starts to foam, add pumpkin and cook, stirring often, until it softens.

Transfer pumpkin to a medium saucepan, add half of heavy cream, bay leaf and half the herbs.

Transfer pumpkin to a medium saucepan, add half of heavy cream, bay leaf and half the herbs.

Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until thick and all liquid evaporates, about 30 minutes.

Remove from heat, remove bay leaf and beat in an additional 2 tbsp. butter and pinch of nutmeg.

Whisk in the beaten eggs. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Push mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl and set aside to cool.

Push mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl and set aside to cool.

Pasta:

Combine the flours through a strainer

Mound flour on a clean cutting board, make a hollow in the middle.

Add a pinch of salt, crack in the eggs and add the olive oil.

Combine the flours through a strainer  Mound flour on a clean cutting board, make a hollow in the middle.  Add a pinch of salt, crack in the eggs and add the olive oil.

Knead pasta dough with your hands until it comes together to the desired consistency, adding a bit of extra flour or sprinkle of water if needed to keep it from being too sticky or too dry.

Knead into a ball and set aside, covered with a paper towel, for half an hour.

Ravioli Construction (**By hand:)

When dough has set, cut loaf into 4 to 6 pieces.

When dough has set, cut loaf into 4 to 6 pieces.

Roll each piece with a rolling pin until it’s about ¼” thick and 4-6” wide

Run these strips through a pasta machine twice, set at #6.

If no pasta machine, keep rolling until dough is paper thin.

Place one strip of dough on a cutting board.

Place one strip of dough on a cutting board.

Place one tsp. of the pumpkin mixture on the thin dough, leaving about 1” all the way around.

Cut a similar size piece of dough off the rest of the strip, place on top and seal with your fingers.

Trim the ravioli to size with a ravioli cutter or wheel, making sure all edges are completely sealed.

Repeat until either all dough or all filling is used up.

Using a Ravioli cutter form:

Roll strip of dough to as thin as possible as and 1-inch wider than ravioli form.

Lay a strip of dough over the base form with plenty of room on each side.

Gently, but firmly, fit the second form over dough and into the base form to create pockets.

Fill each pocket with pumpkin mixture

Fill each pocket with pumpkin mixture

Cover with second sheet of dough, then roll with pin until metal form should through.

Cover with second sheet of dough, then roll with pin until metal form should through.

Gently pop out each ravioli

Sauce:

Reduce the stock and shallots in a medium saucepan to ½ cup.

Add remaining heavy cream and reduce by half.  Over low heat, whisk in remaining 4 tbsp. butter, a little at a time.

Add remaining heavy cream and reduce by half.

Over low heat, whisk in remaining 4 tbsp. butter, a little at a time.

Strain the sauce into a clean saucepan and add remaining sage and thyme.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cooking Pasta:

Drop all the raviolis into a large pot of boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes.

When done, the raviolis will rise to the top of the water; remove with a slotted spoon

When done, the raviolis will rise to the top of the water; remove with a slotted spoon

Add to the sauce and bring to a boil.

Add to the sauce and bring to a boil.

Plating:

Divide the ravioli among 4 – 6 plates, spoon the sauce over each serving.

Garnish with a fresh sage leaf. Serve immediately.

Recipe Contest:
Celebrate Valentine’s Day! We are now accepting recipe entries for our February 2015 web site feature GUEST CHEF: INGREDIENT CHALLENGE.