Sunday, November 9, 2008

Pumpkin Ravioli with Chicken & Walnuts in a Sage Cream Sauce

Growing up, we often had big "special" dinners on Sunday nights. You know, the kind that take hours to prepare, make the house smell incredible all afternoon and leave you belly up on the couch afterward because you're so stuffed?

Ahhh... those were the days. They don't happen too often anymore, but I had a rare Sunday afternoon at home today and while I didn't make a "big" dinner, I did decide to put some quality time in the kitchen and make one hell of a meal, if I do say so myself. (Mr. valleywriter said so, too!) I decided it was time to break out the pasta maker and make my first ever batch of ravioli. I couldn't resist using some fresh, local ingredients, so Pioneer Valley pumpkin and maple syrup get to come out an play again in this recipe :-)

Everything here is from scratch, so this recipe is time consuming, but the results are absolutely worth it. This recipe makes enough for 4-6 servings.

Pumpkin Ravioli with Chicken & Walnuts in a Sage Cream Sauce
Pasta dough:
3 large eggs
2 1/2 cups flour

1 cup pumpkin puree (told you we'd be using this soon!)
1/2 cup fat-free ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground ginger

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 leaves fresh sage, minced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
salt & pepper

2 Tbsp. butter
2 cups fat-free half and half
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup walnuts
8 fresh sage leaves
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. cornstarch, mixed with just enough water to dissolve
salt & pepper to taste

Yes, I know it's a lot - but hang in there - it's worth it!

First make your pasta dough by putting the flour into a mixing bowl and creating a pit in the middle for the eggs. Start stirring the eggs with a fork, slowing pulling in flour from the sides of the bowl until the flour and eggs are fully mixed. If the dough is crumbly, add a little bit of water at a time, just until the dough sticks together. If it's too dry, add a little flour until it's manageable.

Dump the egg/flour mixture out onto a floured board. Knead dough until the color and consistency are uniform.
Cover with a wet towel and let sit for 20-25 minutes.

While you're waiting for the dough to finish resting, you can start your chicken. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour olive oil into a pie plate and turn chicken in the plate to coat. Sprinkle both sides with a few shakes of salt, a few grinds of pepper, minced garlic and minced sage. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until center is no longer pink. (Once this is done, you can just cover with foil and set aside until you're ready to make the sauce.)

After you put the chicken into the oven, move onto your filling. In a food processor or blender, combine filling ingredients and puree until smooth. Put filling in the fridge until you're ready for it.

OK - back to the dough. Break off about 1/4 of the ball of dough (keep the rest covered with the towel until you're ready to use it) and run it through your pasta maker on the highest setting (for the thickest dough). Flour one side, fold in half and run it through again. Repeat 1-2 more times until dough has a uniform shape and consistency.

Dial the pasta maker down to the next lowest setting and run the dough through again. Fold in half, dial down to the next lowest setting and run through. Repeat until you reach the lowest setting on the pasta maker and have a nice long, thin sheet of pasta. Set aside on a floured pan.

Repeat with remaining dough until you have 4 long, thin sheets of pasta. (Maybe it's just my lack of coordination, but cranking out pasta is a 2 person job in my household - so thanks for the help Mr. valleywriter!!!)
Go back to the first sheet of dough you made. Lay it out on a well floured piece of parchment paper. Cut it in half the long way, creating 2 narrower, long strips of pasta. Then cut into squares.

Get your filling out of the fridge and drop about 1 Tbsp. of filling into the center of the top row of squares.

Using a pastry brush (or your fingertips), wet the sides of the pasta with a small amount of water. Take the bottom square of pasta and place it on top of the filling, gently pressing around the mound of filling to get out any air bubbles. Crimp the edges with a fork to seal the 2 pieces together. Repeat until all raviolis are sealed - then repeat the entire process with the remaining sheets of pasta (using the sheet that's been resting the longest first each time). Set the ravioli aside while you put the water on to boil and start the sauce.

For the sauce - start by cutting up the cooked chicken into strips and set aside. In a saute pan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in half and half, Parmesan cheese and maple syrup and bring to a gentle simmer. Add chicken, walnuts and sage and let simmer over medium-low heat.

By this time, your water should be boiling. Drop the raviolis in to cook. When they float - they're done (about 4 minutes). Gently take the raviolis out with a spatula and set aside.

To finish the sauce, stir in the cornstarch and water mixture to thicken. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon over ravioli and enjoy!


doggybloggy said...

this looks really good - I am allergic to walnuts but thats an easy work around...

Corrinnej said...

Oh My! This sounds amazing! I'm going to try this... minus the chicken ;)! Thanks!