Monday, 7 July 2008

Perpetual pasta pastry

This was the carnage produced by my wonderful idea to have a go at making our own ravioli last night. It seemed like a good idea at the time!

A couple of weeks ago we bought a butternut squash at the farmer's market. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it. I'd done risotto recently and didn't want to make a salad or eat it roasted on it's own. I have however wanted to try it in ravioli for a long time. I'd been holding out on pasta making until getting a rolling machine. I just didn't think I'd get the right results rolling dough by hand. However, on the Abel and Cole bill this week was a recipe for pasta dough that they said didn't need a machine. I discarded their idea for filling and decided to replace it with a roasted butternut squash and Parmesan puree. I put the squash into roast and set about making the dough.

I didn't have any eggs left so decided to replace them in the recipe with milk, which since the recipe only asked for one, should be alright. Off I went. It was going fine to start with, the dough came together no problem and felt like it had a nice texture. The problem came with the rolling. It was so elastic that rolling it was incredibly hard work, and since
you need it as thin as possible it was not only taking me ages, but also causing considerable shoulder ache. The going was tough and slow and in about half an hour of working the dough I'd only managed three little parcels! They looked great, but one and a half bits of pasta in half and hour meant we wouldn't be eating dinner anytime that evening, and whenever we did there wasn't going to be much to fill us up.

Fortunately my pasta rolling hero came to the rescue. N, being both stronger and taller, was able to roll out the dough much faster and thinner than I was. The pasta production line went into action. He rolled, cut and re-rolled, I filled, sealed, cut and dusted. In no time at all we had a sheet filled with butternut squash ravioli! Despite my initial worry about not having enough pieces the "perpetual pasta pastry" as it came to be called proved us both wrong. N kept rolling and kept managing to produce more little circles. We stopped in the end because we were starving and needed to cook it, plus earlier we'd given in and put some ciabatta on to bake to help fill us up. I think we had nearly 20 parcels in the end, and there is still dough sitting in the fridge!

In order not to overpower the subtle flavour of the squash and Parmesan I decided to serve the pasta with a simple sage infused butter, which would gently coat it, and provide nice dipping for our bread. It worked really well.

I enjoyed the meal, and there is something very special about tucking into pasta you've made, and filled yourself. However, I think I'll wait until we've got a pasta machine until I make it again, and then start more than forty-five minutes before we want to eat!

"Perpetual Pasta Pastry" - adapted from Abel and Cole (serves two, or maybe three or four depending on your patience and portion sizes!)

115g plain flour
slug of milk
pinch of salt
2tbsp water
2 tbsp olive oil

sift the flour into a large bowl. Add the salt and form a well into which pour the milk, water and olive oil. mix until combined into a dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for five minutes until elastic. Roll out as thin as possible and cut out and even number of rounds using a pastry cutter or glass. Roll these circles again until as thin as possible. Pair them. Wet on with water all over, drop a teaspoon of filling in the middle, top with another round and press down around the edge of the filling to seal and remove air bubbles. Cut again to securely seal. Lay dusted with flour on a baking sheet (I lined mine with a bread making tea towel to make sure they didn't stick).

When ready to cool, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Cook about six at a time (or as many as will fit comfortable in the pan and not stick together) for 3-5 mins until glossy and cooked through. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon, drain in a colander and serve.

Filling: (filled our parcels with loads left over for another time)

1 butternut squash
dried sage to taste
ground pepper
pinch of salt
grated Parmesan

Cut the squash into quarters and de-seed. Place in a roasting tin with a glug of oil, and a sprinkling of dried sage. Roast until soft. Remove from the oven and cool, then remove the skins and place the flesh in a blender with a good pinch of salt, a grinding of pepper and grated Parmesan to taste (I used a large handful). Blend together.

Sage butter:

2 tbsp unsalted butter
5 fresh sage leaves roughly torn.

Place the butter and sage in a milk pan on the hob. Heat very slowly to melt the butter without burning it. When melted remove from heat and let sit as long as possible. Before serving re-melt and drizzle over the pasta.

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