Butternut-Squash-Ravioli-with-Brown-Butter-Sage-Sauce-Tortellini-di-Zucca

After working on this recipe for about three weeks, I can safely say two things:

  • I wish I had figured out this recipe years ago
  • I’m glad my Italian market isn’t any closer or I’d need a treadmill desk at work

Years and years ago, I ordered a dish at a nice Italian restaurant called Tortellini di Zucca. It was a homemade tortellini made with fresh pasta dough and a butternut squash filling. It was served with a nutty brown butter sauce and crispy sage leaves that dissolved in your mouth. It was out of this world. It also sounded really familiar.

It turns out, we covered this dish in culinary school. Often times, you work on several recipes at once so you may not get to try all of the finished dishes every day. Ravioli or Tortellini di Zucca was one of them. What I remember most about the dish are the ingredients. There were two additions I never heard. Even after knowing what they were, I still never would have expected them to be in there: mostarda and amaretti cookies.

Amaretti cookies are small crunchy macaroons with a strong punch of almond flavor. There are small ones, medium ones, soft ones, and crunchy ones. Size doesn’t really matter since we’re throwing them in a food processor, but I’d recommend going for Amaretti Cookie Snaps by Lazzaroni.

Mostarda is like a mustard flavored fruit chutney. It’s can be made with various fruits (grapes, apples, pears, cherries) and includes mustard powder and an acidic ingredient like vinegar or orange juice. It’s sweet, tart, and salty all at the same time, and in fact it’s really versitile. You can eat it on a baguette with a slice of salami and a hard cheese such as Fontina or Gruyere, even Manchego or Iberico. You can serve it as a condiment alongside stewed or boiled dinners, baked ham, or even steak.

Great! So, where do I get this stuff? First stop: Amazon. Of course they sold it, but $11 for mostarda and $7 for a bag of cookies seemed a little steep. I wanted to do a little searching on my own, so off I went looking for Italian markets around me. Everyone loves desserts, especially Italians, so lucky for us, amaretti cookies were a little easier to find. Mostarda? Not so much.

But then I found the Italian market: the Monte Carlo Deli. On the left as you walk in, there’s huge display case of small Italian cookies and desserts, then a case of cheeses, salamis, sausages, and fresh meat. Up above, they have shelves of freshly made bread stacked up, too fresh and sold too fast to even bother to wrap. The aisle on the right is pretty much stocked with cookies, pasta, wine, and more wine. I found my mecca.

Whenever my dog gets excited, she rolls around on her back. I was very close to doing the same thing, especially after I saw they had mostarda and not just one or two types of amaretti cookies, they had a whole section of amaretti cookies.

Unfortunately after all that searching, Amazon turned out to be about the same price for mostarda ($11 online versus $10 in the store). Amaretti cookies were a lot cheaper in the store though at ~$4. You can make your own mostarda, and in fact, I did that as well. You can expect to pay the same price in ingredients in the end, but at least you get a lot more.

You can definitely go down the rabbit hole with this pasta recipe. You started making pasta and you need mostarda. You can’t find mostarda so you decide to make it yourself. One of the ingredients is candied ginger. You can’t find candied ginger so you decide to make it yourself. See where I’m going with this?  If you have the time and patience to travel down the rabbit hole with me, I definitely recommend making mostarda yourself. Especially if you also happen to also buy a baguette, salami, and cheese at the Italian market. It just so happens they all go together.

By the way, is it even possible to leave an Italian market, or for that matter, even Trader Joes, without bread, salami, and cheese?

So you have the option to Amazon Prime everything to your house, or you can set out to find your Italian market mecca, bring home a boatload of treats, and make a little picnic on your patio.

Or both.

 

Tortelli di Zucca (Butternut Squash Tortellini with Brown Butter Sage Sauce)

Tortellini di Zucca con salvia e burro

Ingredients

  • 1 lb butternut squash, cooked (requires ~1 and 1/2 lbs whole uncooked squash)
  • 3.5 oz mostarda (Amazon, Italian market, or try this Saveur recipe)
  • 1.7 oz amaretti cookies (soft cookies if you are making this in a HUGE rush, otherwise, hard cookie snaps are fine)
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, lightly packed, plus more for garnish
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • ~20 large sage leaves, fresh
  • 5 oz all-purpose flour
  • 5 oz semolina flour (I get mine at Trader Joes)
  • 4 egg yolks from large eggs
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt

This recipe makes a lot more filling than you will need, but I recommend making this much and freezing the rest because the filling is the most time consuming to make.

The Filling

Preheat the oven to 350F. Cut the butternut squash in half then use a spoon to scoop out the seeds.

Butternut-Squash-Ravioli-with-Brown-Butter-Sage-Sauce-Tortellini-di-Zucca

Cut into ~2″ cubes and place skin-side down on a sheet tray. (I was using small squash so I cut them lengthwise into quarters, then halved them. I cut the narrow half into 3-4 cubes in a row, then the bottom half twice into four cubes.) This way, all of the cubes were consistent sizes.

Butternut-Squash-Ravioli-with-Brown-Butter-Sage-Sauce-Tortellini-di-Zucca

Spray a baking sheet with pan spray. Bake SKIN-SIDE DOWN for ~55 minutes or until fully cooked and tender. If you don’t put them skin-side down, they WILL stick. You’ve been warned.

(Meanwhile, you can skip to the pasta dough steps below and start on that.)

Once the butternut squash is done cooking, use a pairing knife to peel off the skin.

Butternut-Squash-Ravioli-with-Brown-Butter-Sage-Sauce-Tortellini-di-Zucca

Use a food processor to blend the butternut squash, mostarda, amaretti cookies, and 1/2 cup of Parmigiano Reggiano until smooth. (Depending on the size of your food processor, you may have to do this in multiple batches.)

Now’s your chance to sample the filling. You should be able to taste a hint of mostarda and the bitter almond flavor from the amaretti cookies. The pasta dough and brown butter won’t hide much, so if it tastes too strong in any flavor, add more of the other ingredients to correct it.

If you’re making this recipe in a HUGE rush, you want to use soft amaretti cookies. Otherwise, the cookies won’t have time to absorb moisture and the filling will be gritty. However, if you’re making this in the order described, hard amaretti cookies (i.e. cookie snaps) will be fine.

Lazzaroni Amaretti Cookie Snaps For Butternut Squash Ravioli With Brown Butter Sage Sauce Tortellini Di Zucca

Press the mixture through a fine strainer to remove small chunks and pulp. Press a piece of plastic wrap to the surface to keep it from drying out, then refrigerate until you’re ready to assemble the tortellinis.

The Pasta

Whisk together the all purpose flour, semolina flour, and Kosher salt, then pour it out into a mound on a large, clean work surface. Make a large well in the center of the flour mound big enough to fit all of the egg yolks. Whisk together the egg yolks then pour it into the center of the mound.

Butternut-Squash-Ravioli-with-Brown-Butter-Sage-Sauce-Tortellini-di-Zucca

Use a fork to whisk together the egg yolks, slowly drawing in extra flour until it reaches a smooth, toothpaste-like consistency.

Butternut-Squash-Ravioli-with-Brown-Butter-Sage-Sauce-Tortellini-di-ZuccaButternut-Squash-Ravioli-with-Brown-Butter-Sage-Sauce-Tortellini-di-Zucca

Using a plastic flexible bench scraper, slowly draw in flour, press the flour into the dough, fold, rotate, then repeat until the dough is workable by hand.

Butternut-Squash-Ravioli-with-Brown-Butter-Sage-Sauce-Tortellini-di-ZuccaButternut-Squash-Ravioli-with-Brown-Butter-Sage-Sauce-Tortellini-di-Zucca

Continue kneading the dough and drawing in flour until the dough is firm and no longer sticky, about 5 minutes.

You may have a small amount of flour left over or you may need to add more depending on how humid your kitchen is. This recipe had a small amount of flour left over in a low humidity climate.

Butternut-Squash-Ravioli-with-Brown-Butter-Sage-Sauce-Tortellini-di-Zucca

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 day.

30 minutes is enough time for the gluten to relax and the semolina flour to hydrate. If you go longer than 1 day, the dough will discolor and get brown.

Cut the dough into quarters, remove one quarter, and rewrap the remaining to keep it from drying out. Cover your work surface with a very light dusting of all purpose flour. Gently pat the quarter piece of dough into a ball, then use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to roughly 1/4″ thick.

Butternut-Squash-Ravioli-with-Brown-Butter-Sage-Sauce-Tortellini-di-Zucca

Fold the dough twice like a letter, dusting off all excess flour as you go.

Butternut-Squash-Ravioli-with-Brown-Butter-Sage-Sauce-Tortellini-di-Zucca

Rotate the dough 90 degrees.

If you’re using a rolling pin, roll it out until ~1/8″ thick, then skip to the next step. If you’re using a pasta roller, roll it out until it’s thin enough to fit through the largest setting (i.e. the 1 setting) on your pasta roller.

The purpose of these first steps are to square out the ends of the dough. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a long narrow strip of pasta dough by the time you’ve rolled it all out.

Butternut-Squash-Ravioli-with-Brown-Butter-Sage-Sauce-Tortellini-di-Zucca

Roll it through this setting once. Keep the dough straight so you can keep a wide rectangular shape.

Butternut-Squash-Ravioli-with-Brown-Butter-Sage-Sauce-Tortellini-di-Zucca

Change the pasta roller to the next smallest setting, and pass the dough through again. If the dough gets sticky, lay the dough out and dust lightly with flour. Repeat until the dough is ~1/8″ thick. On my pasta roller, this was the 7 setting, with 1 being the thickest and 9 the thinnest.

I found I had to stop and dust halfway or the dough started sticking to the pasta roller.

Butternut-Squash-Ravioli-with-Brown-Butter-Sage-Sauce-Tortellini-di-ZuccaButternut-Squash-Ravioli-with-Brown-Butter-Sage-Sauce-Tortellini-di-ZuccaAt this point, you want to stop, cut out, and test a couple of tortellinis. If the dough is chewy after cooking for 6 minutes, then it’s too thick. If the dough is soft but the filling tastes watery, then the dough is too thin and water seeped in. If it’s too thin, fold up the dough and re-roll it.

Cut the sheet of dough in half and lay it on a lightly floured surface. Dust the other half with flour, fold, and cover with plastic wrap. (I found that if I tried to work with the whole sheet at once, the pasta dough stuck to the counter top by the time I got to shaping the tortellinis on the end of the pasta sheet.)

Butternut-Squash-Ravioli-with-Brown-Butter-Sage-Sauce-Tortellini-di-Zucca

Get a small bowl of water and set nearby. Use a circle cutter with a 3″ diameter to cut out circles, leaving minimal to no space between cuts. Butternut-Squash-Ravioli-with-Brown-Butter-Sage-Sauce-Tortellini-di-Zucca

Scoop some of the butternut squash mixture into a piping bag and pipe a nickel-sized mound in the middle of each circle.

Butternut-Squash-Ravioli-with-Brown-Butter-Sage-Sauce-Tortellini-di-Zucca

Working on only a few at a time, dip your finger into the bowl of water and run your finger half-way around the edge of the circle. (If you wet the whole edge, it will be too sticky to work with.)

Butternut-Squash-Ravioli-with-Brown-Butter-Sage-Sauce-Tortellini-di-Zucca

On the counter top, fold the circle in half and gently press out any air, working from the center out. If you have any air pockets, the tortellini could explode. Gently pick the tortellini up then press the edges together with your fingers.

If the edges don’t stick together, dab a little water on the dough. If the dough sticks to your fingers, dust your fingers and the dough with a little flour.

Butternut-Squash-Ravioli-with-Brown-Butter-Sage-Sauce-Tortellini-di-ZuccaButternut-Squash-Ravioli-with-Brown-Butter-Sage-Sauce-Tortellini-di-ZuccaButternut-Squash-Ravioli-with-Brown-Butter-Sage-Sauce-Tortellini-di-Zucca

Bring the two ends together and press together to seal. Set the tortellini aside on a plate or parchment paper-lined sheet pan.

Butternut-Squash-Ravioli-with-Brown-Butter-Sage-Sauce-Tortellini-di-ZuccaButternut-Squash-Ravioli-with-Brown-Butter-Sage-Sauce-Tortellini-di-Zucca

Repeat for the remaining pasta dough. If you’re ready to cook the tortellini now, continue to the next step. Otherwise, place the plate or sheet pan into the freezer until frozen, then transfer to an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 weeks.

Butternut-Squash-Ravioli-with-Brown-Butter-Sage-Sauce-Tortellini-di-Zucca

The Dish

Heat a large pot of boiling water. Season the boiling water with 1 T of table salt or 1 T plus 1 tsp Kosher salt per gallon of water. Cook the tortellini in the salted boiling water for 6 minutes if they’re room temperature or refrigerated, or 7 minutes if they were frozen. Stir them occasionally so they cook evenly and they don’t stick together.

Butternut-Squash-Ravioli-with-Brown-Butter-Sage-Sauce-Tortellini-di-Zucca
Meanwhile, put large flat dinner plates on a rack in the oven and heat the oven to the lowest setting, usually around 170 – 200 F.

While you’re waiting for the tortellini to cook, heat the butter over medium heat in a large saute pan until it’s melted, but not browned. Add the sage leaves and continue to cook until the butter is golden brown and smells nutty.Butternut-Squash-Ravioli-with-Brown-Butter-Sage-Sauce-Tortellini-di-Zucca

Remove the pan from the heat. Remove the sage leaves with a slotted spoon or tongs and place them on a paper towel to dry. Pour the butter out into a separate container and cover to keep it hot. (If you keep the butter in the saute pan, it will overcook and burn.) Keep the saute pan on the stove with the heat off.

Butternut-Squash-Ravioli-with-Brown-Butter-Sage-Sauce-Tortellini-di-Zucca-Finished
After 6 minutes of cooking, the tortellini should be done. Remove one tortellini, run it under cool water, then check the texture of the pasta. They should have some texture (al dente) but they shouldn’t be chewy.

Use a spider, small strainer, or slotted spoon to scoop out the remaining tortellinis. Shake off the excess water then add them to the saute pan. Add the browned butter and heat on high heat while continuously tossing the tortellini until they’re evenly coated and the butter is hot.

Butternut-Squash-Ravioli-with-Brown-Butter-Sage-Sauce-Tortellini-di-Zucca-Finished
Remove the dinner plates from the oven and sprinkle freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano directly on the plate. Portion out the tortellini and browned butter on top of the Parmigiano Reggiano. Add a few fried sage leaves and additional Parmigiano Reggiano to taste.

Butternut-Squash-Ravioli-with-Brown-Butter-Sage-Sauce-Tortellini-di-ZuccaButternut-Squash-Ravioli-with-Brown-Butter-Sage-Sauce-Tortellini-di-Zucca

 

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Browned Butter Sage Sauce (Tortellini di Zucca con salvia e burro)
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 lb butternut squash, cooked (requires ~1 and ½ lbs whole uncooked squash)
  • 3.5 oz mostarda (Amazon, Italian market, or DIY Saveur recipe, link above)
  • 2.7 oz amaretti cookies (soft if you are making this in a huge rush, otherwise, hard is fine)
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, lightly packed, plus more for garnish
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • ~20 large sage leaves, fresh
  • 5 oz all-purpose flour
  • 5 oz semolina flour (I get mine from Trader Joes)
  • 4 egg yolks from large eggs
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
Steps
  1. THE FILLING - Preheat the oven to 350F. Cut the butternut squash in half then use a spoon to scoop out the seeds.
  2. Cut into ~2" cubes and place skin-side down on a sheet tray. (I was using small squash so I cut them lengthwise into quarters, then halved them. I cut the narrow half into 3-4 cubes in a row, then the bottom half twice into four cubes.) This way, all of the cubes were consistent sizes.
  3. Spray a baking sheet with pan spray. Bake SKIN-SIDE DOWN for ~55 minutes or until fully cooked and tender. If you don't put them skin-side down, they WILL stick. You've been warned.
  4. (Meanwhile, you can skip to the pasta dough steps below and start on that.)
  5. Once the butternut squash is done cooking, use a pairing knife to peel off the skin.
  6. Use a food processor to blend the butternut squash, mostarda, amaretti cookies, and ½ cup of Parmigiano Reggiano until smooth. (Depending on the size of your food processor, you may have to do this in multiple batches.)
  7. Now's your chance to sample the filling. You should be able to taste a hint of mostarda and the bitter almond flavor from the amaretti cookies. The pasta dough and brown butter won't hide much, so if it tastes too strong in any flavor, add more of the other ingredients to correct it.
  8. Press the mixture through a fine strainer to remove small chunks and pulp. Press a piece of plastic wrap to the surface to keep it from drying out, then refrigerate until you're ready to assemble the tortellinis.
  9. THE PASTA - Whisk together the all purpose flour, semolina flour, and Kosher salt, then pour it out into a mound on a large, clean work surface. Make a large well in the center of the flour mound big enough to fit all of the egg yolks. Whisk together the egg yolks then pour it into the center of the mound.
  10. Use a fork to whisk together the egg yolks, slowly drawing in extra flour until it reaches a smooth, toothpaste-like consistency.
  11. Using a plastic flexible bench scraper, slowly draw in flour, press the flour into the dough, fold, rotate, then repeat until the dough is workable by hand.
  12. Continue kneading the dough and drawing in flour until the dough is firm and no longer sticky, about 5 minutes. You may have a small amount of flour left over or you may need to add more depending on how humid your kitchen is. This recipe had a small amount of flour left over in a low humidity climate
  13. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 day. 30 minutes is enough time for the gluten to relax and the semolina flour to hydrate. If you go longer than 1 day, the dough will discolor and get brown.
  14. Cut the dough into quarters, remove one quarter, and rewrap the remaining to keep it from drying out. Cover your work surface with a very light dusting of all purpose flour. Gently pat the quarter piece of dough into a ball, then use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to roughly ¼" thick.
  15. Fold the dough twice like a letter, dusting off all excess flour as you go.
  16. Rotate the dough 90 degrees.
  17. Roll it out until it's thin enough to fit through the largest setting (i.e. the 1 setting) on a pasta roller. (The purpose of these first steps are to square out the ends of the dough. Otherwise, you'll end up with a long narrow strip of pasta dough by the time you've rolled it all out.)
  18. Roll it through this setting once. Keep the dough straight so you can keep a wide rectangular shape.
  19. Change the pasta roller to the next smallest setting, and pass the dough through again. If the dough gets sticky, lay the dough out and dust lightly with flour. Repeat until the dough is ~1/8" thick. On my pasta roller, this was the 7 setting, with 1 being the thickest and 9 the thinnest. (I found I had to stop and dust halfway or the dough started sticking to the pasta roller.)
  20. At this point, you want to cut out and test cook a couple of tortellinis. If the dough is chewy after cooking for 6 minutes, then it's too thick. If the dough is soft but the filling tastes watery, then the dough is too thin and water seeped in. If it's too thin, fold up the dough and re-roll it.
  21. Cut the sheet of dough in half and lay it on a lightly floured surface. Dust the other half with flour, fold, and cover with plastic wrap. (I found that if I tried to work with the whole sheet at once, the pasta dough stuck to the counter top by the time I got to shaping the tortellinis on the end of the pasta sheet.)
  22. Get a small bowl of water and set nearby. Use a circle cutter with a 3" diameter to cut out circles, leaving minimal to no space between cuts.
  23. Scoop some of the butternut squash mixture into a piping bag and pipe a nickel-sized mound in the middle of each circle.
  24. Working on only a few at a time, dip your finger into the bowl of water and run your finger half-way around the edge of the circle. (If you wet the whole edge, it will be too sticky to work with.)
  25. On the counter top, fold the circle in half and gently press out any air, working from the center out. If you have any air pockets, the tortellini could explode. Gently pick the tortellini up then press the edges together with your fingers. If the edges don't stick together, dab a little water on the dough. If the dough sticks to your fingers, dust your fingers and the dough with a little flour.
  26. Bring the two ends together and press together to seal. Set the tortellini aside on a plate or parchment paper-lined sheet pan.
  27. Repeat for the remaining pasta dough. If you're ready to cook the tortellini now, continue to the next step. Otherwise, place the plate or sheet pan into the freezer until frozen, then transfer to an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 weeks.
  28. Heat a large pot of boiling water. Season the boiling water with 1 T of table salt or 1 T plus 1 tsp Kosher salt per gallon of water. Cook the tortellini in the salted boiling water for 6 minutes if they're room temperature or refrigerated, or 7 minutes if they were frozen. Stir them occasionally so they cook evenly and they don't stick together.
  29. Meanwhile, put large flat dinner plates on a rack in the oven and heat the oven to the lowest setting, usually around 170 - 200 F.
  30. While you're waiting for the tortellini to cook, heat the butter over medium heat in a large saute pan until it's melted, but not browned. Add the sage leaves and continue to cook until the butter is golden brown and smells nutty.
  31. Remove the pan from the heat. Remove the sage leaves with a slotted spoon or tongs and place them on a paper towel to dry. Pour the butter out into a separate container and cover to keep it hot. (If you keep the butter in the saute pan, it will overcook and burn.) Keep the saute pan on the stove with the heat off.
  32. After 6 minutes of cooking, the tortellini should be done. Remove one tortellini, run it under cool water, then check the texture of the pasta. They should have some texture (al dente) but they shouldn't be chewy.
  33. Use a spider, small strainer, or slotted spoon to scoop out the remaining tortellinis. Shake off the excess water then add them to the saute pan. Add the browned butter and heat on high heat while continuously tossing the tortellini until they're evenly coated and the butter is hot.
  34. Remove the dinner plates from the oven and sprinkle freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano directly on the plate. Portion out the tortellini and browned butter on top of the Parmigiano Reggiano. Add a few fried sage leaves and additional Parmigiano Reggiano to taste.
Notes
If you're making this recipe in a HUGE rush, you want to use soft amaretti cookies. Otherwise, the cookies won't have time to absorb moisture and the filling will be gritty. However, if you're making this in the order described, hard amaretti cookies (i.e. cookie snaps) will be fine.

 We Recommend

Tortelli di Zucca (Butternut Squash Tortellini with Brown Butter Sage Sauce)

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