Cooking is an outlet for my creativity. It is a time when I get to imagine up flavor combinations and consider new techniques, play with novel ingredients, experiment with different textures and try out new tools. To create something I’ve never heard of or to personalize a classic dish. While some nights all I want to do is quickly throw something in a pot and move on, I generally enjoy putting time and effort into my meals.
This recipe is not of the “throw in a pot and move on” variety. I recently got a pasta machine (a tax refund gift to self) and was given a ravioli plate, and was looking for an excuse to try them out.
The process involves first roasting squash for the filling. I always cook my squash face down in a glass pan with about half an inch of water in it. It keeps the squash moist and doesn’t allow the bottom to get crisp- perfect for the ravioli filling. I also added some soaked cashews to give it a creamy texture, and some nutritional yeast which gives it a hint of cheese.
Probably the most difficult part of this process to explain is the assembling of the ravioli. The pasta machine is used to get your dough to a uniform and thin- I’ve rolled the dough out by hand before, and it works just fine but the whole process takes much longer. The ravioli plates are a wonderful way to make even and identical ravioli with less risk of overfilling or breaking them. One thing I learned the hard way was to make sure that every surface I put the pasta dough on was sprinkled with flour. There is nothing more disappointing than creating a tray of beautiful ravioli and not being able to get them off the plate.
The recipe was completed with oyster mushrooms, chopped fairly small and cooked in vegan butter. The salty, savory mushrooms add a touch of umami, contrasting the sweet, creamy squash filling.
This recipe makes 48 ravioli- they were an amazing dinner, and maybe even better the next day when my boyfriend fried them up for lunch- a great use of leftovers!
- 1 acorn squash
- 1 cup cashews
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp nutritional yeast
- Salt to taste
- 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- Pinch of salt
- 1 1/3 cups warm water
- 1 tbsp. tahini
- 1 tbsp. sesame oil
- Half a stick of vegan butter
- 1 ½ cups oyster or mixed mushrooms
- Salt to taste
- Food Processor or blender (used to blend the filling)
- Pasta Machine (used to quickly and evenly flatten the dough. A rolling pin can also be used, although it will be more time consuming)
- Ravioli plate (used to shape the ravioli. You can also do this by hand, but the process will take longer)
For the filling:
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Cut the squash in half and scrape out the seeds. Bake in a glass dish with about a half inch of water around it for 70 minutes or until thoroughly cooked. While the squash is cooking put the cashews in water to soak.
- Take the squash out of the oven and place on a plate to cool. When it is cool enough to handle scoop the insides into a food processor. Drain the cashews and add them, along with the garlic and nutritional yeast.
- Blend until creamy. Add a little salt to taste and set aside until you’re ready to make the ravioli. This can be made a day or so ahead of time if that is more convenient.
For the pasta
- In a large bowl combine the salt and flour. In a separate bowl whisk together the tahini, water and sesame oil until the tahini has no is evenly distributed.
- Combine the water and flour. When they have started to form a dough, take out of the bowl and begin to knead on a clean, dry, well-floured surface. Knead, adding flour as you go, until the dough is smooth and pliable.
- Place the dough back in the bowl and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 8 even pieces. Use your hands to push the first piece in to a slightly flatter rectangle before running it through the largest setting on the pasta maker. Adjust it to a slightly thinner setting and run the dough through until it is about 4×12 inches (the size of the ravioli plate, or 12 2x2inch ravioli). If you do not have a pasta maker you can use a rolling pin, although the process will be slower. Roll a second sheet of pasta and leave on a well-floured surface until needed.
- Now it’s time to assemble the ravioli. Sprinkle flour over the metal side of the ravioli plate and place the rolled-out section of dough on top, making sure it reaches all the edges. Sprinkle the dough with flour before pressing the plastic mold on top to make the pockets for the filling. Scoop about half a teaspoon into each of the pockets. With your finger, paint the outline of each of the ravioli in water, to help stick the two sheets of pasta together. Lay a second sheet of the rolled out dough on top, and press down. Sprinkle flour on a clean surface or cutting board and flip the finished ravioli down. You can use a knife to gently separate them and cut off any excess pasta on the edges.
- Repeat steps 4 and 5 until all the ravioli are made.
For the sauce/Finishing it all up.
- Put a pot of water on the stove to boil
- Roughly chop the mushrooms into small pieces
- In a large skillet heat the butter until melted, then add the mushrooms and salt to taste. Cover and place on a medium-low heat to cook.
- When the water boils you can begin to cook the ravioli. In batches place them into the water individually. After 1-2 minutes they will float to the surface. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and place directly in the pan with the mushrooms. After all the ravioli are cooked toss in the butter and mushrooms to coat them evenly and serve with freshly cracked pepper.