Chef Tony Mantuano of Levy Restaurants shows you how to add some zing to your holiday meal, Italian style:
• Pumpkin Ravioli
1 (2 lbs) pumpkin
1/3 cup mostarda, coarsely chopped
1¼ cup dried bread crumbs
1¼ cup parmesan cheese
1 cup amaretto cookies, finely ground
¼ teaspoon nutmeg, grated
Sea salt and ground pepper to taste
2 cups unsalted butter
16 fresh leaves sage leaves
Parmesan cheese for serving
½ lb pasta sheets (homemade or pre-made)
Homemade Pasta Dough
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
8 egg yolks, lightly beaten
½ cup water
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
To make the filling: Cut the pumpkin in half and remove the seeds. Arrange, cut sides down, on an aluminum foil-lined or nonstick baking sheet and roast until very tender, 20 to 30 minutes. When cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and place in a blender or food processor. Add the mostarda and process to a puree. Transfer to a bowl and add the bread crumbs, cheese, cookie crumbs and nutmeg. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Roll out the pasta dough into thin sheets.
NOTE: If you don't have time to make your own pasta, pre-made pasta sheets from your local grocery store will work fine.
Working with one sheet at a time, cut the pasta into 3-inch squares. Place each square on a lightly floured board or cloth and let dry for 5 minutes.
To fill, place a dough square in front of you on the diagonal, so you are facing a diamond shape. Place a teaspoon of filling in the middle of the diamond. Lightly spray the pasta with water and bring the bottom point of the diamond to the top point. Press the pasta together to form a triangle, working out from the filling. Trim the two unfolded sides of the pasta triangle with a crimped pastry wheel, and then fold the side points of the pasta forward and press to join them together in a bishop's hat shape. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. Stand the finished cappellacci to dry for about five minutes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and dusted with flour.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat; do not let the butter brown. Stir in sage leaves. Set aside and keep warm over very low heat.
Add the cappellacci to the boiling water and cook until al dente (tender but firm to bite), 3 to 5 minutes after they rise to the top. Remove with a slotted spoon and carefully transfer to the warm butter and sage sauce. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes to allow the pasta to marry with the sauce and absorb some of it.
To serve, divide the cappellacci among eight warmed plates and top with Parmesan. Serve immediately.
To Prepare Pasta Dough:
As mentioned earlier, pre-made pasta sheets will work fine. However, if you choose to make your own pasta, below is Tonys preferred method.
Mound the flour on a pastry board or other wood or plastic work surface. Make a well in the center and add the salt and egg yolks. Using a fork, gradually fold the flour into the eggs, adding the water little by little until you have a soft dough. Knead a few times until smooth, then form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for one hour.
To roll and cut pasta, cut the dough into six pieces. Working with one piece at a time (cover the remaining dough with a moist cloth until ready to use), dust the dough with flour and place between the rollers of a manual or motorized pasta machine at the widest setting. Pass the dough through. Fold the dough in half, sprinkle with flour, and roll again. Dust again with flour if the dough becomes sticky. Continue this process, reducing the space between the rollers one setting at a time, until the dough is a thin, smooth sheet. Generally, you can roll the dough six times on the first setting before tightening the rollers; then reduce the times you roll by one with each new setting.
The finished pasta sheets should be about six inches wide and 12 inches long. Let the pasta sheets dry on a lightly floured board or parchment paper for five minutes before cutting.