Dena Strong's recipe for Butternut Squash Ravioli

Dena Strong's recipe for Butternut Squash Ravioli

Here's another recipes from Champaign resident Dena Strong. We did a story about Strong today in the Food section, where you can find more of her recipes. You might also remember Dena from the recipe for Green Tea Brownies I blogged about last week.

I got the idea for this from a dish I had at Biaggi’s several years ago which doesn’t seem to be on their menu anymore. Their version was really tasty, but also kind of rich and oily, so I wanted to lighten it up — and I also wanted to not have to roll my own pasta in a small kitchen with very limited counter space.

So I decided to use wonton wrappers as a quick, light pasta replacement. My neighbors told me they like this version even better than the original.
Although Biaggi’s version did this with butternut squash, an even quicker shortcut means you don’t even have to make the filling. Instead, just add your spices to a can of pureed pumpkin and use that as your wonton-ravioli filling.

If you do want to make your own filling:

1 to 2 pounds butternut squash, baked until soft and mashed up
(If your squash is bigger than this, you may want to multiply the amount of flavorings added below. Make a test ravioli or two to taste test the balance before you do the whole batch.)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 can evaporated skim milk (for the virtuous) or 1/3 cup heavy cream (for the less virtuous)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 package won ton wrappers (check the refrigerator section at Asian groceries)

Pan sauce per serving:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter (light butter also works)
1 to 2 tablespoons low-salt chicken or vegetable broth
2 to 3 sage leaves, if desired

Thin-sliced toasted almonds
Parmesan cheese peels

The night before:
Cut the squash in half and clean out the guts. Put it cut side down in a casserole dish. Cook as desired: eight to10 minutes in the microwave, or five minutes in microwave and 20 to 40 minutes in 350-degree oven, or about 40-60 minutes in oven. It’s done when a poke with a fork or knife goes through easily.

Once cooked, let the squash cool enough to handle in order to peel it and mash it up with the milk/cream, sugar and spices.
If you’re not going to make the ravioli within a day or two, you can freeze it at this stage.

On ravioli-making night:
Put about 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of each wonton wrapper. Wet half of the outer edge of the wonton wrapper (halfway around a circle or two sides of a rectangle). Fold the wonton wrapper over and squish the edges to seal.

If you want to freeze some of your ravioli for later use, line some baking trays with freezer-safe press-and-seal (inside up). After filling the tray with wontons, add a top layer of press-and-seal, seal together and put the entire tray in the freezer. Wait until the wontons are thoroughly frozen to fold the press-and-seal packet up smaller and put it into a freezer bag.

On cooking day:
If your ravioli are frozen, take some out in the morning and let them thaw in the refrigerator.

Put one or two servings’ worth of pan sauce ingredients in a large skillet. Once the pan sauce is simmering-warm and the butter starts to brown, add 6-8 ravioli per serving. (Don’t overcrowd the skillet; they’ll stick together and tear too much. Cook one portion at a time in a small skillet, maybe two in a big one.)
Cook the ravioli gently on each side until the wonton skins are done. (Some varieties of wonton skin will turn translucent rather than browning.)

After lifting out the ravioli onto the plate, add your toasted almonds and grate or shave Parmesan over the top. If you need more pan sauce for the next batch, add more to the pan and repeat.

The amount of butter-and-broth that sticks to the ravioli from the cooking is about the right amount for me, but you can also drizzle the extra sauce over the top and make a new sauce for each batch.

If you use vegetable margarine, vegetable broth and skip the Parmesan cheese, this recipe is vegan-friendly.

Photo of squash is from this website.

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algon wrote on October 13, 2010 at 9:10 am

I feel like even domestic-duds could do this thansk to the wonton wrappers!

Meg Dickinson wrote on October 13, 2010 at 9:10 am
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I know, especially if you use a can of pumpkin puree. I like that this recipe is as difficult as you want it to be.

DenaS wrote on October 13, 2010 at 8:10 pm

I really like the wonton-as-ravioli-wrapper cheat myself. I put all kinds of stuff in 'em. :D

I haven't seen the physical copy of the paper yet (they were out at the stores I checked after work), so I don't know if this tip is in that edition, but one squash-preparation thing I find handy with this recipe in particular is to put the squash innards through a sieve to get the stringy bits out and make it nice and smooth. That's particularly nice for something like either ravioli or pudding/pie where you want a nice soft smooth texture.

(hoping to run across a print copy on the next run... :D)