Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Pumpkin Ravioli With Parnsips & Brown Buttered Sage

My first experience with pumpkin-filled pasta stretches back to 6 months in Tuscany as an undergrad, studying languages and (of course) food. My cooking class was taught by an English expat architect who, I swear, knew how to make pasta, pair wines, and pick a stellar olive oil on par with any Italian nonna. 

I'll never forget standing in her kitchen, with a handful of students, kneading squid ink, pesto, and pumpkin into various pasta doughs, passing it through the press over and over, and cutting it into delicate squares and shapes to be stuffed with the ingredients that lay scattered around the counter in little, sliver prep bowls. It was a surprising amount of work for such a small piece of food but when I tasted the pumpkin stuffed ravioli in a walnut cream sauce at the end of an evening's hard work, I was smitten.


You can understand how, every time I see pumpkin-filled ravioli, I buy as many boxes as I can carry and hoard them in the freezer like we're expecting an apocalypse (yes, my apocalypse would be survived with pumpkin ravioli). My favorite, readily available version, is Trader Joe's Honey Pumpkin Ravioli. The first time I came home with these, I realized that I had a problem; I only knew how to a cook a walnut cream sauce, which is too heavy for a warm, late September. 

So what DO you do with pumpkin ravioli otherwise? My go-to answer came from a former boss/cook who's reply was, "brown buttered sage of course." I throw in some parsnips to up the veggie count and we have ourselves a viable, non-food coma inducing recpie! 

Parsnip #1 peeled and cubed
Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, place about half a pot of water on boil, and add in a tsp of kosher salt and a tbsp of olive oil to help the pasta not stick to itself or the pan. Add the pasta to the water once it is boiling. While the pasta cooks (this process takes 7-8 minutes, depending on the pasta), turn your attention to the parsnips. A good one will have a firm, white peel and might be a bit woody at the core; avoid parsnips with puffy or slightly soft peels. Using a vegetable peeler or pairing knife, peel each parsnip and cut into cubes (size doesn't matter much, so long as you are consistent or the pieces won't cook evenly).  

Spiced and roasted parsnips
Place the cut up parsnips on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet, add 1 1/2 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt,  1 tsp pepper, 1 tbsp garlic, 1 tsp cinnamon, and  1/4 tsp nutmeg, tossing until the cubes are evenly coated. Spread evenly on the pan and place in the oven (turning it from 'pre-heat' to 'bake') for 20-40 minutes. Parsnips are done when tender and easily pierced with a fork or knife.

*About the time you put these in the oven, your pasta should be finishing up, so go ahead and check it (when a stuffed pasta shell is cooked, it will float to the top of the pan). When done, remove the pasta from heat, strain, and set aside.

Next, break out the sage, butter, and place 3 tbsp butter in a saucepan on the stove, using a medium-high heat to melt and brown it. As the butter melts, you'll start to notice it turning a golden brown color around the edges, this means that it's time to add in the sage. When adding the sage, tear it by hand. Cutting sage with a knife allows oxidization and turns the cut edges black. Toss it into the butter, stir, and lower the heat as soon as the sage has crisped up (about 1 minute). *Sage can release some amazing flavors when prepared correctly but if burned, it turns bitter, so watch out for any pieces turning black as they fry and remove from heat immediately if this happens.

When the butter is browned and the sage is fried, lower the heat to medium-low, toss in the roasted parsnips, and gently, mix in the pumpkin ravioli. Voila, a perfect blend of sweet and savory to be served up on cold nights. Enjoy!



- 1 package pumpkin ravioli
- 2 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp salt
- 2-3 parsnips
- 1tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp garlic
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 large handful (or packet) of sage, hand torn

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