Homemade pasta is a thing of beauty.
I’m not suggesting it should be an everyday affair. indeed, unless you have a pasta machine and loads of free time, it shouldn’t be. On the other hand, on the rare occasions when I crave a filled pasta, store-bought ravioli or tortellini simply will not do. I’m told one can buy fresh pasta sheets for these purposes, but I don’t go to the fancy grocery stores so homemade was really the only option. You need something fresh and eggy and delightful to hold in all this pumpkin, you see.
Then you can do one of two things. There’s the healthier option of adding simmering vegetable or beef broth, or you can do what I did.
Everything’s better with cheese. Drizzle a creamy Swiss cheese sauce over these lovely things and prepare to overeat. The trick is using the right cheese. You want something more than a little bitter, with enough bite to provide a contrast to that lovely sweet pumpkin flesh.
I’ll warn you, this is a multi-stage process, but it’s made easier by the fact that most of it can easily be done ahead. Roast the pumpkin and refrigerate it for a day or two, make the pasta dough (or buy some. I don’t mind.) and toss it in the refrigerator until you’re hungry. Sauce is optional; I had originally planned to serve this in brodo before I realized we had somehow used all the vegetable broth in the apartment.
Ingredients (serves 4)
For the roast pumpkin:
1/2 of a 3 to 3 1/2 pound roasting or pie pumpkin
1/4 cup of white wine
2 large sprigs of rosemary
about 1/2 of a nutmeg, grated
salt, to taste
Also, 1 pound of kale
For the ravioli:
2 cups flour
2-3 T olive oil
1 t salt
For the Swiss cheese sauce:
2 T butter
1/4 cup cream
about 3 ounces Swiss cheese
pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
The only real challenge in cooking with fresh pumpkin is chopping said pumpkin into manageable chunks. For almost everything else in my kitchen, I use the incredibly light and viciously sharp ceramic knives. For bread I use a serrated knife, and for pumpkin I use this bad boy.
I found him in standing water in an ill-maintained campus kitchen when I was in college. I’m not sure whether it’s actually a kitchen implement or a Hobbit-sized sword, but this knife probably has enough heft to take out a chunk of the counter if we wanted to. Which we don’t. So, chop your pumpkin in half.
Peel the pumpkin and scrape out the seeds (we’ll talk about roasting the seeds later).
Wrap up one half for later, and chop the other into 1/2 inch cubes.
Pour the wine over the pumpkin bits.
Grate on the nutmeg and add the rosemary.
Sprinkle on some salt.
Toss the pumpkin, wine, and seasoning. Arrange the pumpkin in a layer in a roasting pan and toss it in a 400°F oven.
After 45 minutes, you have roast pumpkin.
Congratulations! Now, while that’s in the oven and you’re snacking because you didn’t start dinner until you were already hungry (please let me believe I’m not the only person who does that, okay?), make some pasta.
Food processors make life almost too easy. It’s why I love them. Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse them briefly.
Add all three eggs.
Zoom, zoom. Process while drizzling in the oil for about 20-25 seconds.
With well-floured hands, form the dough into a ball on an also-floured countertop.
Divide the dough ball in two halves and roll out one of them as thin as you can. I don’t have a pasta machine, nor do I think it would be worth the space to get one. Just elbow grease and a nice heavy rolling pin, thanks.
Pile little hills of roast pumpkin at two-inch intervals over the dough. I topped mine with grated Swiss cheese, as well.
Roll out the other half of the dough, drape it over the first one, and use a biscuit cutter to form ravioli. Repeat rolling and forming ravioli until you run out of pumpkin or dough. I made 32 ravioli before running out of pumpkin.
Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil. (Why yes, I do put salt into this recipe four different times. Isn’t it wonderful?)
Boil the ravioli for 3-4 minutes.
Boil a pound or so of kale, too. Kale is delicious and crunchiful.
Divide your ravioli onto serving plates. Now they are finished, and quite tasty, but naked.
Let’s make a quick Swiss cheese sauce. Plop 2 tablespoons of butter into a saucepan over medium-high heat.
Letting the butter brown was an accident, but I don’t regret it. Pour on the cream.
Add the Swiss cheese and stir to melt it.
Add the salt and turn off the heat, stirring quickly to fully incorporate the salt.
Spoon over the ravioli and kale just before serving.
The best thing about this dish is that everything on this plate makes everything else on it that much better. The wine on the roast pumpkin gives it a sour edge that the pumpkin flavor bursts out of. The kale is just bitter enough to contrast the pumpkin, and lends its texture to an otherwise too-soft dish. Bitter, salty cheese keeps everything from being too pumpkin-sweet (think pumpkin pie. No thanks.) and the rosemary does what rosemary does best (it makes everything better, in case you were wondering. Everything.) This is definitely something to make again soon. Even without a pasta machine.