Pumpkin Ravioli Stuffing

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Preparation info

  • 6–8

    people
    • Difficulty

      Medium

Appears in

Alastair Little's Italian Kitchen

Alastair Little's Italian Kitchen

By Alastair Little

Published 1996

  • About

I personally find the original for this dish rather bizarrely sweet, and in Britain substitute butternut squash for pumpkin. The other enemy of this dish is moisture -squashes are extremely watery, and if this is retained in the ravioli stuffing, it will soak into the pasta and give the envelopes a soggy bottom.

Ingredients

  • 1 kg butternut squash
  • 4 amaretti biscuits
  • 2 tbsp drained Mostarda di Cremona (2–3 pieces), coarsely chopped
  • stale bread, toasted and ground for breadcrumbs
  • 100 g Parmesan, freshly grated
  • salt and pepper
  • freshly grated nutmeg

Method

Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas 3.

Put the butternut squash into a roasting dish and bake for 1 ½ hours until very tender and collapsed. Allow to cool, cut in half and remove seeds and skin. Put the flesh of the squash into a dry wide pan (a frying pan), and cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it has dried out and reduced its volume by half. Be careful on two points. Firstly, the squash must not stick and burn. Secondly, as the squash flesh breaks up, it will form a coarse purée; as this concentrates it begins to imitate those large bubbles that rise out of volcanic mud pools in nature documentaries. These bubbles are quite capable of popping viciously and spraying you with very hot squash pulp, so if these pustules are forming, turn down the heat and stir.

When you have concentrated the squash pulp (this takes nearly an hour), tip it into a food processor with the amaretti and mustard fruits. Process a little then pour out into a large mixing bowl and add a handful of breadcrumbs and an equivalent amount of cheese. Mix and taste. Now the hard part – I can give you no hard and fast amounts – you will need more crumbs to absorb the liquid but too much will ruin the taste of the stuffing, and you will certainly need more Parmesan, lots of seasoning (salt, pepper and nutmeg), perhaps more amaretti, perhaps more Mostarda di Cremona. Only you can decide, but bear in mind two things, the resulting mix should be capable of holding its shape and should not be too sweet (I stress too as it is a sweet mixture). Remember this is a stuffing, so add plenty of seasoning.

When you are happy, transfer to a clean container and refrigerate for up to 2 days. This mix also freezes quite well. Incidentally, half-cooked assembled ravioli freeze well, and are best reheated by 1 minute in boiling water from frozen then browning in a mixture of sunflower oil and butter until crisp.

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