Ravioli con la Zucca Barucca

Pumpkin-Filled Ravioli

Pumpkin arrived in Italy via the Spanish and Portuguese Jews after the Inquisition. Although popular in Ancona and Ferrara, these much-loved ravioli are a specialty of Mantua, where a sizable Jewish community thrived during the reign of the Gonzaga family. The pumpkin filling may include the addition of crunchy amaretti (almond macaroons), ground toasted almonds, chopped raisins, or mostarda di frutta, a condiment of candied fruit in a mustard-flavored syrup that is a specialty of Cremona. Although not essential, such additions bring an interesting sweetness to the filling.

Ingredients

  • 1 sugar pumpkin, kabocha, or butternut squash, pounds
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly grated nutmeg to taste
  • 1 cup crushed amaretti or ground toasted almonds (optional)
  • 1 cup chopped mostarda di frutta (optional)
  • ½ cup chopped raisins (optional)
  • Dried bread crumbs, if needed
  • pounds dough for Fresh Egg Pasta
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and kept hot
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • ½ cup chopped toasted hazelnuts or almonds (optional)

Method

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F. Place the pumpkin or other squash in a baking pan and bake until soft when pierced, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and, when cool enough to handle, cut in half and scoop out and discard the seeds and fibers. Scoop the flesh from the halves into a food mill placed over a bowl and pass it through the mill. (Alternatively, mash the flesh in a bowl with a potato masher.) Transfer the pureed flesh to a sieve placed over a bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight to drain off excess moisture.

The next day, squeeze the squash flesh with your hands to remove any additional moisture. Place in a bowl and add the cheese, a generous amount of nutmeg, and the amaretti or almonds, mostarda di frutta, or raisins, if using. If the mixture still seems too moist, add bread crumbs as needed to absorb the moisture.

Roll out the pasta dough and use the squash mixture to form ravioli as directed. Alternatively, cut the rolled-out dough into 3- to 4-inch rounds, place a heaping tablespoonful of filling in the center of each round, dampen the edges of the round with water, fold in half, and press the edges to seal. The ravioli can be assembled up to 6 hours ahead and placed on well-floured baking sheets lined with parchment. However, they do not keep for a long time, as the squash continues to give off moisture, causing the dough to break down.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the ravioli and cook until al dente. Using a slotted skimmer, scoop out the ravioli and place in a warmed serving dish. Drizzle with the melted butter and sprinkle on the sage. If you have not put almonds or amaretti in the filling, top with the hazelnuts or almonds.

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