A few weeks back I set out to organize our freezer (AGAIN) in order to take stock of things and to set a meal plan in motion that would allow me to free up some space for the inevitable soups, braises and stews that we turn to for cold weather fare. Much of what I found in the cold depths of the ice box were dribs and drabs of various meats that required little more than defrosting and a few minutes spent on a hot grill to move out of inventory. A few other things, such as the wonton wrappers that we used in this dish required a little more thought and creativity in order to put them to good use.
We normally use the wrappers for making Crab Rangoon or various forms of Gyoza, but as we had recently indulged in a deep fried Asian inspired feast, I cast my net a little wider for inspiration. Rather than the Pacific Rim, I decided to take a little trip to Italy and use the wonton wrappers in place of home made pasta as we made these delicious squash stuffed ravioli. If you haven't used wonton wrappers as ravioli before, you should. They are dead easy to make, and so thin and light that they don't overpower the filling you choose to use inside. Stuff them with your favorite meat, seafood, cheese or vegetable, then toss them with a simple marinara, a cream sauce, or a browned butter gem as we have done here.
This plate turned out to be such a great taste of Autumn, that we've made it twice already since coming up with the recipe. Next up might be to use some frozen lobster meat and stock we have to make a lobster bisque or newburg inspired dish….stay tuned.
Cheers – Steve
Butternut-Fennel Ravioli with Hazelnut-Sage Brown Butter Sauce
by: Steve Dunn
- 2 pound butternut squash, peeled, halved lengthwise and seeded
- 1/2 fennel bulb, cored and sliced into wedges
- 2 shallots, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 3 ounces of feta cheese, crumbled (about 2/3 cup)
- 2 tablespoons cream
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 40 square or round wonton wrappers
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts, lightly roasted and roughly chopped
- 1/4 pound pancetta, cut into lardons and sauteed until crisp
- 12 leaves fresh sage
- Heat oven to 400℉
- Cut each squash half in half again (into quarters) and place on a rimmed baking sheet with the fennel. Drizzle with a little oil and season with some some salt and pepper. Place in the oven to roast for approximately 30 minutes, until very soft and nicely caramelized. Stir once halfway through roasting. Watch the fennel closely, you will likely need to pull it from the oven before the squash is cooked through.
- While the squash is in the oven, gently saute the shallot in some oil and butter until translucent and soft. Add the garlic during the last few minutes of cooking. Reserve.
- When the squash is done, place it and the fennel in the hopper of a food processor, add the sauteed shallot and garlic, the feta cheese and the 2 tablespoons cream. Process until smooth, taste for seasoning adding salt and pepper if required, and transfer to a bowl.
- Line a few baking sheets with parchment and set to the side of your workspace. Fill a small bowl with water and keep within reach. On a clean counter, set out a line of wonton wrappers, then spoon about 2 teaspoons worth of the filling onto each one (alternatively, you can place the filling in a piping bag and dispense it that way). When each wrapper is topped with the squash puree, dip a finger in the water bowl and run it around the very perimeter of each wrapper. Gently lift one side up and over the filling and press into place against its match on the other side. Try to squeeze any air from the inside of the wonton as you deftly seal the edges. Remove to the lined baking sheets while you finish forming the rest of the ravioli.
- Heat your oven to 250℉ and grab a large baking dish to keep handy.
- Once all the ravioli are made, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then lower the heat so that the water settles into the gentlest boil you can manage. As the water heats, make the brown butter sauce. Place the stick of butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low. Just as the milk solids start to darken, add the chopped nuts and sage and watch closely. You want the solids to achieve a nice, dark brown hue, but not go so far as to burn. When the butter has sufficiently browned, remove the pan from the heat and cover to keep warm.
- Cook the ravioli in batches by gently placing them in the water. They only take a minute or two to cook, and will float to the surface when they are done. Remove the cooked ravioli to the large baking dish and ladle some of the cooking liquid around them (enough to coat the entire bottom of the dish), cover with foil and place in the oven to keep warm while you cook the other batches of raviolis.
- When all the ravioli are cooked remove from the warmed baking dish with a slotted spoon and place into pre-warmed pasta bowls, top with some of the brown-butter sauce and crisp pancetta lardons, and serve. Pass freshly grated parmesan-reggiano at the table if desired.