Since I happened to have this bounty of homemade ricotta cheese (pats self on back), I was anxious to put it to work in a fabulous recipe. And what better way to showcase it than in these delicious, fall inspired ravioli. For me, making ravioli is like making lasagna. When I make them, I spend an afternoon assembling as many as I possibly can (within my budget and time constraints) and freeze them to be used as a quick, delicious, homemade meal later on down the road. It takes a little bit more time now, but I save myself a great deal of time and energy in the future, which I am always extremely grateful for, when life becomes a little too hectic to spend much time in the kitchen.
If you are the kind of person who enjoys making your own homemade pasta, well, God bless you. I, myself, am not that person. I certainly have made my own pasta in the past, and likely will again in the future, but for the most part, for me, I find the process to be tedious. Luckily, I needn’t sacrifice flavor, as the grocery store can do all of the work for me, in the form of fresh won ton wrappers. (You can also often find sheets of pasta in the frozen section of your grocery store, which also work equally well.)
I begin by making the filling by combing one cup of homemade ricotta cheese, one cup of canned pureed pumpkin, a half a cup of grated Parmesan cheese, one large garlic clove (grated on my microplane zester), a third of a cup of toasted pine nuts, one egg yolk, a small dash of salt, a pinch of cayenne pepper, some freshly ground black pepper, and a dash of freshly grated nutmeg. I then taste the filling and make any necessary adjustments.
Next, I make an assembly line on my cutting board. I line square won ton wrappers up six at a time, brush the entire surface with water, place a a small dollop of the pumpkin filling (about a rounded teaspoon’s worth) in the center of each, then place another won ton wrapper over the tops. I gently work out any air bubbles, and press around the filling, to ensure a good seal. I then cut each ravioli out using a medium, fluted biscuit cutter, and crimp each along its outside edge with tines of a fork. I repeat this process until I run out of filling.Once you get into the rhythm of it, it really doesn’t take that long to assemble all of them.
To freeze the ravioli, I place them in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze, uncovered, until they are frozen solid, and then transfer them to a zip lock freezer bag. For those that I wish to serve right away, I gently place them in a pot of boiling, salted water, and boil for about two minutes or until they float (you will want to add a minute or two to your cooking time when you are preparing them from frozen).
Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan I melt one stick of butter over medium low heat, and allow the butter to brown. When it is fragrant and nicely golden brown I toss in a small handful of fresh sage leaves (either whole or coarsely chopped depending on your presentation preference), and allow the sage to sizzle away in the butter for a minute or so before adding the cooked ravioli.
Serve them up on their own (with an extra sprinkling of Parmesan cheese) or with a simple green vegetable. Here I decided to serve them with sauteed spinach. (To make the spinach, in a large skillet placed over medium heat, I heat several tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, a few cloves of garlic, and a large pinch of red pepper flakes. Once the garlic has browned, I remove the cloves from the pan and discard them. I add two thinly sliced shallots and cook until they are soft. I then add a big bag of pre-washed baby spinach, and toss to coat it in the oil. Once it is wilted, I season it with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.)
The ravioli are rich and unbelievably creamy with the homemade ricotta cheese. The toasted pine nuts, and salty Parmesan really round out the subtle pumpkin flavor, and it all beautifully harmonizes with the nutty brown butter and sage. All of the fabulous flavors of fall on a plate. This is elegant comfort food at its best. Simple to prepare in advance, and extremely quick to bring together before serving it is also perfect for entertaining. Enjoy!