Butternut Squash Tortellini with Brown Butter Sage Sauce


How and why I love autumn (Part 1):

roasted pumpkin air

carpets of leaves

book spines

Hemmingway, cinnamon coffee, composition books, coat buttons, pennies

caramel darkening

black leather shoes, crumpled bed sheets, thick comforters

Argyle socks

fluffy dogs attacking argyle socks

Butternut Squash Tortellini with Brown Butter Sage Sauce

Warning – if you do not have a pasta machine, this recipe is damn near impossible.  If you do not want to buy a pasta machine, befriend someone who owns one.   If you want to buy a pasta machine, I recommend this one for novices – http://www.amazon.com/Roma-Traditional-Style-Pasta-Machine/dp/B000ATUKBK/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1318464981&sr=8-3

I just don’t think it’s worth it to spend more money unless you’re going to be making pasta all the time.

Filling:

1 butternut squash roasted
1/4 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp dried sage or 5-6 leaves fresh sage rough chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Fresh Pasta Dough:

Makes 1 lb of pasta

2 cups All Purpose Flour
1/4 cup semolina*
3 eggs
1-2 tablespoons water

Brown Butter Sage Sauce

1 tablespoon butter per serving of pasta
2 fresh sage leaves, chiffonade

To make the filling:

Preheat oven to 425. Cut squash in half, lengthwise. Scoop out seeds with spoon. Season with salt, pepper and olive oil.

After seasoning, flip over to roast

Roast cut side down for @40 minutes, until knife tender.  Let cool. Peel off skin.

Mash in large bowl with rest of the ingredients.  Taste. Adjust.

Don’t forget the balsamic whatever you do.

I was making this with a friend, Laura.  I had the balsamic sitting there on the table, but forgot to add it. We kept tasting the filling and going, “it’s not there yet.  It needs…” and finally she said, “What about an acid?”  Laura to the rescue.  It made a world of difference.  If I had been running through my taste checklist

***If you know how to make fresh pasta and form tortellini, skip to the end***

To make pasta:

Make a well with your flour and semolina. On a table if you’re brave, in a bowl if you’re not.  Crack eggs into said well.  Beat eggs, gradually drawing in flour from the sides of the well.  Be careful not to go too quickly or your well will collapse, and the eggs will run everywhere.  If they do run everywhere, just stop them with your hands and damage control with some flour.  Once the eggs/flour form a paste, you can use your hands to work the rest of the flour in. If your eggs do not take up all the flour, add a tablespoon of water.  If the dough is still dry and unworkable, dip hands in water and knead.  Repeat until it’s kneading and stretching easily.  Knead for a couple of minutes.  Let’s say three.  If you have not cultivated your baker’s forearms (should look eerily similar to Popeye’s), then you might want to trade off with a friend.  Or hit the gym until your forearms can stand to lift a dangling Olive Oil from the ground and possibly Bluto.  Either way.

The texture of the dough should have softened a little bit and it should more or less refuse to be kneaded any longer.  That’s the gluten getting all developed and uptight.  Think adolescent teenager.  Just give it a while to relax.  Wrap it in plastic and walk away from it for 20 minutes.  Otherwise you’re liable to meet with great resistance, petulance, whining, and accusations of how you’ll never be able to understand it.

Then get ready to roll.

Cut ball into four pieces and wrap the pieces you’re not using in plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out.  Form piece into a rough rectangle.  Pinch along one edge to make it easier for the rollers to catch.

Feed into rollers on the biggest setting.  Roll through.

Fold into thirds –

and roll through lengthwise on the same setting.  One more time.  Ok, knock it down a setting.  Roll.  You no longer need to fold it. If at any time the dough is getting sticky, sprinkle some flour on it, rub it in, and proceed. Better?  Ok. If it starts tearing, flour it, ball it up, and start over.  Let’s assume that didn’t happen, yes? Continue rolling, setting by setting, until it’s reached desired thinness. Remember you’re going to double the thickness of this particular pasta by pressing the dough together.   Laura convinced me to go all the way to the second thinnest setting.

Cut into workable sheets.

Lay sheet out and cut into squares.  Get as close as you can to perfect squares because it makes it so much easier to close up the tortellini.  Dollop with filling and brush edges with egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water). I use my fingers, but you could use a pastry brush if you like.

Don’t overfill or it will squish out the sides as you try to close it.  I don’t know how much since I don’t know how big your squares are.  You’ll get the hang of it in a couple.  Unless you’re an old hand at this and know exactly what you’re doing, you need less filling than you think you do.  Took me and Laura a while to strike the right balance of filling to noodle.  And I personally had to measure with my fingers to get the square thing down.  Whatever works for you.

Close squres into a triangle. Press edges closed.  Vigorously.  If they’re not sealed, they leak and then you have baggy empty tortellini shells and butternut squash water.  Not delicious.

Press down the edges of the triangle and press edges together like so –

“Like a fortune cookie,” Laura said.

Put on a flour-dusted sheet tray.  Repeat.

If you’re not feeding 4-8 people, place those you won’t use uncovered on a sheet tray in the freezer for 20 minutes.  Then you can bag them up and make them whenever.  They will cook in 3-4 minutes, and the filling will fill about 2 lbs of pasta dough. So it’s worth it to make 2 lbs.  If you have time.  And a friend. Or several friends if you can convince them. Bribe them with liquor if you have to.

Boil tortellini in salted water for about 3 minutes.  The only way I know to reliably tell if they’re done is to taste. If you haven’t killed all feeling in your fingertips, you can keep a glass of ice water next to you and plunge one in to cool it enough to try.

Drain and set aside while you make brown butter sauce.

******

To make Brown Butter Sauce with Sage:

Heat butter in saucepan on medium low until it begins to brown.  Turn off heat. Add sage leaves.  They will bubble.  Once they’ve stopped add tortellini and toss (carefully).

Garnish with grated or shaved parmesan.

Enjoy!  …  (If I don’t type these things, surely you will simply stare at your plate of delicious food, right? Um… ok, I’ll stop.)

*If you can’t find semolina, then you can use another 1/4 cup of all-purpose, but the semolina does improve it.  Should be in the “ethnic” section or specialty flour section of your “local megamart”.

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