Ravioli Filled with Sweet Potato

Tortelli alla Ferrarese

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Ravioli filled with the sweet local pumpkin is a specialty of Ferrara in Emilia-Romagna. When my mother first tried the recipe in the U.S. she found that the orange-fleshed sweet potato available here was the closest equivalent to the Italian pumpkin. I have found that butternut squash is also an acceptable alternative although the sweet potato is still my favorite. The sauce I like best to serve them with is a butter and sage sauce, but plain butter and Parmigiano cheese works very well too.

Total Time from Start to Finish: 1 hour and 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces. orange-fleshed sweet potato or butternut squash
  • Vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons prosciutto, very finely diced
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
  • 3 tablespoons flat leaf Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • teaspoon nutmeg
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Pasta dough, made with 2 eggs and 1 ½ cups flour

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  2. Coat the sweet potatoes with vegetable oil (if using butternut squash no oil is necessary) and place them on a baking sheet in the oven. Cook until they are very tender and the skin feels like it has separated from the meat of the potato about 45 minutes, but cooking time will vary greatly depending on the size of the potatoes. Remove them from the oven and peel them as soon as they are cool enough to handle. Puree the potatoes or squash through a food mill into a mixing bowl.
  3. When the potatoes have cooled, add the prosciutto, egg yolk, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, parsley, and nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Mix the ingredients together until they are well amalgamated. The filling may be prepared a day ahead of time and refrigerated.
  4. Roll out the pasta dough until it is very thin. If using the pasta machine, roll out just one strip at a time. If you’ve rolled out the pasta by hand cut a strip approximately 3-inches wide and cover the rest with plastic. Place dollops of about 1 tablespoon of the filling along the bottom half of the strip spaced about 1-inch apart. Fold the top half of the pasta strip over the stuffing and use a pastry cutting wheel to cut along the bottom edge, the sides, and in between each dollop of stuffing forming square ravioli. The edges should be sealed by the cutting action of the pastry wheel, however make sure they are and pinch shut any loose edges with your fingers. Place the tortelli on a dry cloth, spaced enough apart so they won’t stick to each other, and continue the process until all the pasta and/or the stuffing is used up.
  5. Fill a pot for the pasta with about 6 quarts of water, cover, and place over high heat.
  6. Prepare the butter and sage sauce or set aside 6 tablespoons butter cut into small pieces and ½ cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  7. Add 2 tablespoons salt to the boiling pasta water and add the ravioli, using the towel to slide them in. Cook until the edges of the tortelli are al dente. When the ravioli are done, drain well, and transfer to a serving platter. Pour the butter and sage sauce over them or add the butter and Parmigiano and gently toss until they are coated with sauce. Serve at once.

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