Tuesday, November 01, 2005
"What can I do with pumpkin besides pie?" "What can I do with chestnuts besides stuffing?" Those are two questions I've been asked recently. I think I've found an answer to both!
A while back one of my cooking buddies and I decided to make ravioli from scratch. It was made a bit easier by the fact that I have a pasta rolling machine with a little motor on it. Still, it took both of us quite a while to get it done, with the pasta dough making, the resting, the rolling several times until the pasta sheet was thin enough and the forming of the raviolis. And at the end the kitchen and both of us looked as if a flour bag had exploded!
You're probably not going to do that, are you? And the next time we did it, we didn't go through all that, either. It is very easy to make ravioli using wonton wrappers. They are, after all, just pasta.
Here's the technique: Pick your filling and get it ready. You don't have to dust your work surface with flour, as you do with fresh pasta, but do make sure it is completely dry. Lay out one wonton wrapper and put a heaping teaspoonful of filling in the center. Brush the edges with water and top with another wrapper. Mold the center of the top wrapper around the filling to eliminate any air pockets, then press the edges together to seal. If you like, you may use a pastry cutter to "pink" the edges, or a cookie cutter to make rounds.
Put the ravioli on a cookie sheet and cover with a towel for about 1/2 hour before cooking, or cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to cook. To cook, slip one by one into a pot of barely boiling salted water. They are done about 30 seconds after they rise to the top, or 3-4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a colander to drain.
The sauce is the same for both: just before serving, melt a stick of butter, add a splash of white wine and simmer a minute or two. Add two tablespoons of fresh sage, cut into thin strips. Save a few sage leaves to garnish the plate.
For your dinner, simply add a big green salad with a drizzle each of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and some crusty bread.
CHESTNUT RAVIOLI FILLING
1 cup roasted chestnuts
2 tbsp pancetta or bacon, finely chopped
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 shallots, finely minced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup water
1 tart cooking apple, peeled and cut into 1/4" dice
Coarsely chop the chestnuts. In a large skillet, cook the pancetta or bacon in the butter until almost crisp. Add the shallot and garlic and cook, stirring, until the shallot is tender, but not browned. Add the chestnuts and the water and simmer about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and mash the chestnuts with a fork. Stir in the diced apple. Add salt and pepper to taste, and use to fill ravioli. After cooking, drizzle with the sage butter, grate a good imported parmesan over the top, garnish with sage leaves and serve at once.
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can pure pumpkin (NOT pie filling)
or two cups cooked and purée fresh pumpkin
2 tbsp mango chutney, minced
A light grating of fresh nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
Sauté the onion in the butter until just barely tender. Add the garlic and cook until tender and lightly golden brown. Add the pumpkin, chutney, nutmeg and salt and pepper. Heat gently for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly. Make and sauce your ravioli according to the instructions above.