I have always enjoyed fall far more than any time of year. Perhaps because it’s the season into which I was born. (Today, in fact, is my birthday! But shhh, let’s not make a big deal about that now. There’s a birthday treat post coming up next, and we can talk all about it then.) It’s a beautiful time in the northeast. The air feels electric. I crave new things.
In the past few years, as I began to focus more on eating seasonally and enjoyed the benefits of a modest-yet-fruitful garden, I discovered another exciting aspect of the season: preservation. I take a bizarre amount of pleasure in tackling mounds of fruits and vegetables — methodically breaking down and repurposing them into something with a much longer shelf life. So when I was house sitting the other week and my mother presented me with a near-10lb butternut squash from her garden, I knew what I as going to spend the next two evenings doing. Half of it turned into two quarts of soup. The other half became a purée with sage and parmesan, which was then divided up between a pizza and these ravioli. All of them went into the freezer (which I then opened about once an hour in order to gaze upon my creations). Giant butternut squash: VANQUISHED!
Now, anyone familiar with this blog/my neurosis might be thinking, “wait…onions? WHAT?” Despite my hatred of the vile things, I do know that butternut squash and caramelized onions are a match made in heaven. And when I decided to make this dish, it was partly inspired by the perogi dish served at a local café. Their perogies are covered in caramelized onions, and so freaking delicious it’s ridiculous. I pick off all the slimy onion bits, but their flavor remains, and it’s so so good. And I’d also like to take this opportunity to send a personal message to a friend who said he’d love to have an Iron Chef–style cook-off against me if the secret ingredient was onions, because he’d kick my @$$: DON’T FOR A SECOND THINK YOU’VE GOT AN ONION THROWDOWN IN THE BAG, WEHMEYER! You might win. But you might not. :)
Butternut Squash Ravioli with Caramelized Onions
yield: approximately 2 1/2 dozen ravioli
- 1 1/2 cups of butternut squash purée (instructions below)
- 2 tbsp of sage, minced
- 1/2 cup of sweet corn (you could leave this out if you want, but I find it adds a nice texture)
- 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, grated
- 1/4 cup of cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp coarse pepper
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 batch of egg pasta dough
- 2 large yellow onions, caramelized (instructions below)
To make the butternut squash purée:
Preheat the oven to 450°. Cut a 2–3 lb squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place halves cut side-down in a baking dish. Cover with foil and roast for around 30 minutes, or until squash is soft. Remove and let cool, then scrape out squash meat and purée in a blender or food processor.
To make the filling:
Combine butternut squash purée, sage, corn, cheeses, and spices, and mix together until well combined.
To caramelize the onions:
Slice off the ends of the onions and peel off the skin. Cut in half, then cut into slices approximately 1/4 of an inch thick. Place a large, heavy saucepan over medium low heat. Add 1 tbsp of butter or olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan, followed by onions and 1/4 tsp of coarse salt.
Stir onions around, then cover the pan. Repeat every 5–10 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the lid and continue to cook onions, stirring every 5–10 minutes, until onions are soft and nicely browned. The whole process should take 35–40 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside, but do not clean the pan!
To make ravioli:
On a floured surface, roll pasta dough out into a large rectangle, until it is thin, but not in danger of tearing (around 1/16 of an inch thick). Cut rectangle in half, then drop tablespoons of filling over the surface of one of the halves, leaving about an inch between.
Using a pastry brush (or your fingers), rub a little bit of water on the surface of the dough between the filling, to ensure a proper seal. Carefully place the second rectangle of dough on top, and press all around to close. Cut ravioli with a knife or pasta wheel. To make sure they’re sealed (and pretty), press all around the edges with a fork.
Note: If you still have some filling and a bit of dough leftover after trimming off the edges, knead the dough back together, and roll out again. Use a biscuit cutter (or any other round sharpish thing) to cut out as many circles as you can. Spoon filling into the center, brush water around the edges, then fold over and seal. (That’s why the little guys in my pictures look like halfmoons, rather than squares.)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add ravioli and cook until they begin to float (this should only take a few minutes). In the meantime, remove onions from the pan and add a couple tbsps of butter. Heat over medium heat, then add the ravioli and fry until golden brown on each side, making sure to get all of the delicious caramelized bits left in the pan. Top with caramelized onions, and maybe some freshly-grated parm.
(Any leftover, uncooked ravioli can be frozen in a heavy-duty ziploc bag.)