Friday, November 4, 2016

"Pumpkin - Not Just for Halloween and Thanksgiving!" - Pumpkin and Beet Ravioli with Fresh Herb Butter - Halloween 2016

Date I made this recipe:  October 31, 2016 – Halloween!

Pumpkin – Not Just for Halloween and Thanksgiving! – 40 Mouthwatering Recipes by Joanna Farrow
Published by Octopussybooks, USA and the UK
ISBN:  978-1-84601-478-9; copyright 2005 (published in Great Britain by Hamlyn) and 2014 by Spruce
Purchased at Half-Priced Books
Recipe:  Pumpkin and Beet Ravioli with Fresh Herb Butter – p. 13

Well, it's time for my least favorite holiday, Halloween, and time, I suppose, to make something with pumpkin.  Sigh.

It's not that I don't like pumpkin per se, it's just that I hate the bastardization of pumpkin spice. 

Come this time of year, you'd be hard-pressed to avoid pumpkin.  There are pumpkin-spiced candles, pumpkin-spiced wreaths, and a ton of pumpkin-spiced food starting with coffee, natch, and ending with pumpkin beer. 

And if it was just the pumpkin itself (as in the gourd) and not the spices, that might be one thing, but as always, the smell of fake spice is so overpowering that I get a headache.  I like to avoid headaches.

I am happy to report though, that this recipe has nothing to do with (fake) pumpkin spice.  Nothing.  No need to brace thyself for an overdose of cinnamon or nutmeg (not my favorite although I'll deal with it in very low doses) or "other."  Nope.  Just clean, fresh, pumpkin, beets and a few herbs.

That said, it's time to play true confessions:  I didn't use a pumpkin.  I know, right?  In my defense, I looked for baking pumpkins and found them in several stores but they were all too big.  And sure, I can freeze pumpkin (I looked it up), but I have no need for frozen pumpkin and besides, it takes up valuable space for items I might need to freeze.  Not that I freeze anything, but it's the principle of the thing.

Instead, I substituted a tiny squash (name already forgotten) that was the perfect amount for this dish.  And it was orange, although not "orange" orange like a pumpkin but hey, am I a color analyst?  No. 

This recipe also calls for a small beet and I know there are beet haters out there who might not make this recipe because of it, but I bet you can get by with using more pumpkin or substituting another squash or another vegetable. 

So I have to tell you that my shopping excursion for the items for these recipes was rather hilarious.  I shopped at Seward Coop and bought one tiny squash, pulled one tiny beet (just the right size) from a bunch of beets, and then pulled one tiny scallion from a bunch of scallions because I didn't need any more than that.  The cashier didn't bat an eyelash until she got to the one, lone scallion.  Then she paused and frowned and I said "The scallions were $.99 a bunch and if you want to charge me for the full thing, that's fine.  I just didn't want to waste food." 

"Nope, it's fine.  I'm just trying to figure out how to do this."

So she worked her magic on the scale and charged me a whole, whopping $.05. 

In addition to the Great Pumpkin Swap of 2016, I also cheated on the pasta dough for the ravioli, something the recipe told me to make by hand but instead, I went out and bought. Because honestly folks, I just didn't want to spend the time making it, then chilling it for 30 minutes and worse (to me, anyway), rolling out the dough with the tool of the devil -  a rolling pin.  I wouldn't go so far as to say I hate rolling pins, but then again, I often avoid using them like the plague as I never seem to get the dough right.  I had the same problem when my grandmother had me and my cousin, Mary Pat, attempt to spread pizza dough onto a pizza pan – by hand, no less.  Epic fail.  "Oh. You mean the dough shouldn't be full of holes, grandma?"

Had my husband been home at the time – a/k/a "The Pie Guy" he would have nailed the sucker but he wasn't.  And since we don't have a pasta attachment for our Kitchen Aid, I
simply motored over to a former workplace of mine, Broder's Cucina Italiana, and bought four sheets of already made and already "rolled" pasta.  As I am wont to say "Why do for yourself when you can pay others to do for you?"

So unless you are a master a pasta making, I recommend you seek out other ready-made alternatives and if it isn't fresh pasta sheets, then use won-ton wrappers.

With the need to make the pasta dough out of the way, dinner was easily put together.

Except...well, let's just say I took liberties with the next set of instructions to "finely grate the pumpkin and the beet."  Oh come on folks, why grate anything when you can just finely chop it in a Cuisinart?  Grating makes one prone to cooking injuries i.e. scraped knuckles and fingers.  Using a Cuisinart is a relatively safe activity with the same result.  It's a no brainer!

And so I "finely grated" my veggies in my mini Cuisinart and then put everything into my regular-size Cuisinart to smooth it out, and then Andy and I set to work on filling my pre-made ravioli pasta squares – ta da!

The only thing left to do was to make the herb butter and that was pretty easy although I have to say that I am also not a huge fan of tarragon and so would leave it out were I to make this recipe again.  I'm not sure what I would substitute – sage, maybe? – but that's another story for another day.

And so this is how I made something with pumpkin only not pumpkin and something that did not contain the evil empire of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, and life was good.  I had a strong hankering to use goat cheese in some way but didn't although we did sprinkle some fresh Parmesan cheese on top for a little added zest.  It was Halloween after all, so why not throw caution to the wind?

This concludes my pumpkin submission for our 2016 Halloween observance.  Until next year.

By the way, if you are like me and prefer a more savory pumpkin dish, consider these recipes:  "Beef and Pumpkin Curry" - p. 28; Pumpkin, Ricotta, and Spinach Tart - p. 25, or even "Mashed Pumpkin and Potatoes with Garlic Creme Fraiche - p. 12."  These constituted this year's "also ran" recipe considerations.

Pumpkin and Beet Ravioli – serves 4
Prep time:  30 minutes, plus chilling
If you make your own pasta dough
2 ½ cups pasta flour, plus extra for dusting
2 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
For the filling
9 oz pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and finely grated
1 small raw beet (about 3 ox), peeled and finely grated
1 garlic clove, crushed
Beaten egg white, for glazing
½ oz bunch of fresh herbs (chives, parsley, tarragon)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 scallion, finely chopped
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon plus 2 teaspoons juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

If you make your own pasta: Place the flour on a work surface and make a well in the middle.  Break in the eggs, add the egg yolks, the oil, and salt.  Lightly whisk the eggs with a fork, gradually bringing in the flour, then use your fingers to mix into a soft dough, adding a tablespoon of cold water if the dough feels dry.  Once the dough is smooth and elastic, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Mix the grated pumpkin and beet with a little salt and pepper and the garlic until smooth.

Cut the pasta dough in half and roll each half on floured surface, each to a 13-inch square.  Brush one square with the egg white.  Place 25 teaspoons of the filling in five evenly spaced rows over the dough.  Lay the second sheet of dough on top, pressing between each mound of filling.  Use a sharp knife or pasty wheel to cut the ravioli into squares.

Discard any tough stalks from the herbs and chop finely.  Melt the butter in a small pan and add the herbs, scallion, lemon zest and juice, and salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil.  Drop the ravioli into the pan, bring back to a boil and cook for 3 minutes.  Ann's Note:  more like 7 minutes if you are using fresh pasta sheets.  Drain and arrange on warm plates.  Spoon over the herb butter and serve immediately.

No comments: