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Ravioli a perfect match for butternut squash

Top these rustic, sweet and savory butternut squash ravioli with parmesan and freshly ground pepper. (Adriana Janovich)
Top these rustic, sweet and savory butternut squash ravioli with parmesan and freshly ground pepper. (Adriana Janovich)

The butternut squash had been sitting on my kitchen counter for a couple of weeks.

I was beginning to feel like it was watching me, pleading with me to be used, made into something savory and sweet, something that tasted like autumn, warmth and cinnamon.

It was a lazy afternoon on a recent autumn weekend, and I didn’t feel like leaving the house, not even to get additional ingredients. So if I was going to make something of this one medium-sized winter squash, I would have to make due with whatever I had on hand.

After Googling for inspiration, I decided to experiment with ravioli, which turned out to be sweet, rich, creamy, oversized and somewhat rustic. They were oversized and somewhat rustic because I don’t have a pasta press and I used a water glass to cut circles in the dough, which I kneaded with my hands and rolled with a rolling pin.

The extra mashed squash mixture, thinned with chicken stock left over from making the white sauce, made a flavorful topping for my store-bought orecchiette.

In the end, I enjoyed several meals from my lone butternut squash and even started to miss its presence on my kitchen countertop. I might just have to get another one.

Egg-less Pasta Dough

3 cups flour

1 cup warm water

2 tablespoons olive oil

Put flour in large mixing bowl, making a well in the center. Add wet ingredients to well and very slowly mix together with a fork, incorporating only a little flour at a time so it mixes smoothly and evenly. Continue kneading by hand for about 10 minutes, let rest for a half hour covered with a towel. Repeat a couple of times until dough is smooth and silky, and just slightly sticky. Shape by hand or with a machine.

Note: Boiling fresh pasta takes significantly less time than dry pasta. Depending on the shape, cook for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

Oversized and Somewhat Rustic Butternut Squash Ravioli

1 medium butternut squash

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 cups warm, seasoned chicken broth

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds and stringy flesh with a teaspoon. Sprinkle with half of the salt and pepper. Place squash halves, cut side down, on a baking sheet. Roast 50 minutes to an hour, until tender. Remove from oven and let cool. Scrape flesh out of shells with a spoon and place into a large bowl.

Add remaining salt and pepper, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, cheese and garlic powder, and mash until smooth, adding chicken broth as you go. Adjust seasoning to taste if necessary. (A pinch of cayenne or a teaspoon or two of maple syrup might add additional heat and sweetness.) Form and cook ravioli. Top with Medium Chicken Stock White Sauce, grated cheese and additional freshly ground pepper.

Medium Chicken Stock White Sauce

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Dash salt

1 cup chicken broth

Put medium sauce pan over low heat and add butter. Sprinkle in flour and salt while whisking; continue whisking for 1 minute.

Continue whisking while pouring in all chicken broth. Whisk constantly while cooking until sauce gets thick and bubbly.

Use in any recipe that calls for a medium white sauce.