Rolling with the ravioli

| 26 Oct 2017 | 11:46

One of my foodie goals for 2017 was to stretch my culinary wings and learn the art of pasta making. I had visions of ravioli, the silky, melt-in-your-mouth type, hand rolled and stuffed with butternut squash and sage. Well, it’s not happening. Not yet.

A bulge in my driveway and sprained ankle sabotaged the pasta challenge. Although the pasta must wait, the ravioli won’t. Advice to myself: Start with what you already know and love to eat. Eight months ago I started butternut squash seeds, tucking each tiny plant into the soil, watching over the pale green, peanut-sized squash as they transformed into voluptuous tan beauties. Instead of mashing butternut into savory, sweet pasta filling, its long neck slices into perfect rounds, replacing the pasta sheets and taking on a more assertive role in the dish. The creamy, dairy-free filling is crafted with well-seasoned tofu, garden fresh spinach and sage.

I’m serving this free-form ravioli with a side of parsley and garlic infused oil, crispy brussels sprout leaves and toasted walnuts for crunch. This dish showcases the fall harvest, with butternut front and center as it was destined to be.

Free-form butternut squash ravioli

Vegan, Serves 2 to 3

Tofu ricotta

8 ounces extra firm tofu, drained and pressed

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 teaspoon lemon juice

½ teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage

¼ teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 cup blanched spinach leaves, finely chopped

Butternut squash

1 butternut squash, preferably with a long neck

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt to taste

Sage leaves for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

While oven is preheating, make the tofu ricotta. In a medium bowl, crumble the tofu with your hands. Add all of the ingredients except the spinach and continue to mush, squeezing the mixture through your fingers until it has the consistency of ricotta. Fold in spinach, adjust seasonings and refrigerate until use.

Peel the butternut squash and cut off the long neck. Reserve the bottom portion for another use.

Slice the squash into thin rounds, approximately 1/8 inch. You’ll need 20 slices to make 10 ravioli.

Brush both sides of the squash with olive oil, season with salt and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for about 12 minutes, flipping the rounds after 6 minutes. The squash should be tender but not brown.

To assemble, place half of the butternut squash rounds on a serving platter. Place a spoonful of tofu ricotta on each slice and spread evenly. Top with a second squash slice. Press a small sage leaf on each round. If desired, serve with crispy brussels sprout leaves, chopped toasted walnuts and herb and garlic infused olive oil.