Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Butternut Squash and Ricotta Ravioli with Walnut Puree and Braised Turkey

I'm not going to lie to you.  This recipe was complicated.  Well, at least complicated in terms of what I usually cook... not Alinea complicated or even close.  Dear God, the thought of that made me both hungry and exhausted all at once.

The first thing I did was start braising a couple turkey breasts.  Funny enough, I was actually stupid enough to buy turkey breasts weeks BEFORE Thanksgiving.  Yeah.  Dumbass.  I think its was about 2 weeks before turkey day that I made this for dinner, clearly not planning ahead.  Now I'm on such turkey overload that even writing this post is daunting.  However, if you have some leftover turkey and a few hours on your hands, give this vague with lack of measurements recipe (or parts of it) a try. 

I started by sauteing onions, garlic, carrots, and celery in some olive oil, then added some water, white wine, and herbs (thyme I think, but it doesn't really matter).  I let that cook over low heat, covered, for about 45min to an hour.  Braising is such an interesting thing because at first, it strikes fear into your heart because the meat get super-tough.  Give it time young one, because after what feels like too long, it is suddenly succulent and fork tender.  Awesome.

While that was going on, I started making pasta and roasting some squash.  The squash is easy.  Cut it in half, salt and pepper it, drizzle on olive oil and toss it into a 400F oven.  Wait 30min, test for done-ness with a fork.  If the fork slides in/out of the flesh easily, its done.  Let the squash cool, then scrape out the flesh into a medium bowl. 

Note: I made my own ricotta for this but unless you have a bunch of milk laying around to get rid of just buy the stuff.

Add ricotta (~1/4C) and egg to the squash along with a pinch of nutmeg, salt, and pepper.  Reserve this for later, its the filling.  Obviously.

Pasta.  My new thing is making pasta.  For some reason I have this inner demon telling me that until I perfect my pasta-making, I'm not allowed to keep calling on my Italian ancestry.  Why am I so short? Because I'm Italian! Why am I so good at drinking wine?Because I'm Italian!  So yeah, I hand rolled my ravioli dough.  You can find a simple pasta dough recipe anywhere, but no matter what, be prepared to have to play with it a little to make it suit your tastes.  That, and be prepared for a workout because man is it hard to get it thin enough with only a rolling pin.  I like to roll mine out then let them hang out over a chair/cabinet door (get it? hang out?!? zing!) for at least 30 min before forming the ravioli.  Don't let the dough dry out though, make sure you cover them with a damp cloth whilst they chill.

Make ravioli.  Cut the sheets of dough into long, similarly sized rectangles.  Add a tablespoon or so of the squash filling.  Brush the edges with some egg wash (egg yolk + water) and lay a second dough sheet on top and seal the edges (that's what the egg wash is for).  Cut out squares.  Done.

Walnut and Sage Puree.  This might have been the easiest part of the meal.  Well, boiling the water wasn't so tough either.  But yeah, this is a cinch.  Throw some walnuts in the food processor with some sage.  Blend.  Add the mix (saving a little for garnish later) to a skillet with some butter and wine and cook it over medium heat until it makes a fragrant, thick sauce/puree. 

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  We're finally getting close, Ladies and Gentlemen!

Back to the turkey first.  I loved how the braised turkey tasted, but the texture didn't seem right for this dish.  It was too many "soft" things on the plate.  So I decided to shred the turkey and place it in the oven to crisp up at little.  Wonderful flavor from the braise plus some textural contrast.

Cook the ravioli in the boiling water until they float to the surface and seem done, I think about 2 minutes or so is how long mine took.

Assembly time! Yay!

Walnut-Sage puree on the bottom.  Top with ravioli.  Throw some turkey on top of the ravioli.  Shave some Parmesan over the top and sprinkle some remaining walnut-sage crumbs over the whole thing. 

What could possibly make this better you ask?  Yeah, see that thing with the gold writing in the background next to my nasty dish sponge, gross Laura!?  Truffle oil.  Yeah.  I went there.


I don't think I need to tell you that this was pretty awesome once we finally sat down to eat it.  And you know the best part?  I decided to make this dish on ON A TUESDAY.  Smart, huh? Thank god Boyfriend had class until 9pm 'cuz we certainly weren't going to eat any earlier than that.

I know some of you have some turkey and squash laying around from last week begging to be used up.  Try this.  Or, if you don't have 5 hours to spend in the kitchen.  Just make the easy-as-pie walnut sauce and toss it over some pasta with the turkey and squash.  Hell, that might only take you 15 minutes.  Why on earth did I just think of that now?!?!


  1. I have made the butternut squash ravioli using wonton wraps but was not happy with the two sauces I tried, one a brown butter walnut sauce which had chopped walnuts. I got to thinking how about pureeing the walnuts along with some walnut oil to make a sauce. So I googled that and found this recipe. I am anxious to try this recipe.

  2. Good luck! Let me know how it turns out :)


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