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.
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
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.
© 1998 Joyce Goldstein. All rights reserved.