Let me preface this post by publicly announcing how much I admire teachers. Seriously, bravo to you guys. My sister teaches grade 6, and I am constantly amazed by her workload; not only during the days but on evenings, weekends and holidays. I never thought I was cut out for it. That belief was confirmed today when I taught 26 teenagers (grades 6-9) a hands-on cooking class at The Cooking Room in Red Deer. Which isn’t to say it wasn’t a total blast, or that teenagers are somehow intolerable, it’s just – well, picture 26 young adults kneading yeast dough for their calzone, shaping spanikopita in phyllo pastry, frying baci di ricotta (teeny ethereal Tim Bits by way of Nigella), wrapping shrimp in prosciutto, grilling chocolate panini and rolling energy orbs and chocolate truffles, all in one room with one oven.
The funny part is – I thought we’d have time to do all this and make ravioli with wonton wrappers. Ha.
So I came home with about 300 extra wonton wrappers and a roasted butternut squash (split it in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, drizzle with oil and bake on a cookie sheet or in your cast iron skillet at 400F for an hour) as well as half a container of leftover ricotta. (I wish I had thought of throwing a head of garlic in to roast with the squash!) The thing about wonton wrappers (the square ones – if they are round they are labeled gyoza) is that they are pretty much the same thing as fresh pasta sheets, so they make fresh ravioli dead easy. Fill them with anything you can think of; dab your finger in water and run it along two edges, then fold it over to seal, squishing out any air pockets so that they don’t turn into floatation devices when you boil them.
For the filling, I scooped out the roasted squash (you can do this in advance if you like while you’re cooking something else, and stash the squash in the fridge for a few days) and mashed it with what was left of the ricotta (not quite a cup), a drizzle of maple syrup, another of flax oil (for omega 3s) and some salt and pepper. Once the ravioli are assembled they can be frozen in a single layer and then transferred to freezer bags, or dropped into boiling water (don’t crowd the pot) for 3-5 minutes, until they float to the surface and the pasta is tender. Frozen ravioli can be boiled the exact same way, making them an even quicker supper than dried spaghetti.
For the sauce, anything goes. I pondered pesto, since W is such a fan, but really all I ever want with squash is butter. Browned butter is even better, nuttier and richer, and browning it helps make a little go a long way.
Swirl a knob of butter in a hot skillet; when the foam subsides, it will start turning golden as the natural sugars in the butter caramelize. (That’s right, butter and caramel.) Scoop the ravioli from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and drop into the hot pan, like you might with perogies. The hot pan and hot butter should keep them from sticking; shake them around a bit until they start to brown as much as you’d like them to. If you had some fresh sage, adding a few torn leaves now would be a great idea. Pour it all out into a shallow bowl.