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June 25, 2012: A Wayside Memory

June 25, 2012

Homemade Ravioli Stuffed with Butternut Squash and Greens. Topped with a Garlic and Parsley Bechamel Sauce.

I was tooling around today making lunch for myself from a variety of leftovers. I came up with an acceptable meal of store-bought stuffed ravioli with sauce of butter/parley and jazzed up a bit with parmesan cheese and freshly ground pepper. As I said…acceptable, and more than tasty, just not perfect. So, I simultaneously got a flash of an old idea for a recipe and a very important insight, so simple that I can’t believe it has never fully coalesced in my consciousness before: the best things I have ever created have been for, in the presence of, or inspired by, someone else. Living alone (and in a near vacuum) as I do, you can see how problematic this might be to an aspiring chef! At my old job I had my students to sometimes cook for, and often I came up with challenging recipes to make for them. These days, I still have the occasional dinner for friends, but these are sparse at best.

A few years ago, my former student Regan (who I will always think of as my first student) did me the honor of visiting me. I don’t quite remember why I didn’t actually cook for her, but somehow we decided to visit the best place to eat, short of my own kitchen: The Wayside Inn in Sudbury, Ma. As a unique combination of restaurant, inn, and museum, the Wayside is a treat for anyone that likes really good traditional American food, great ambiance and a rich history with a splash of literature (Longfellow wrote “Tales of the Wayside Inn” here.) It doesn’t hurt that it is only a few miles from my house. As we were eating, I considered that one of us ordered squash and one ordered ravioli. It occurred to me that a mixture of the two would be a good blend. This was a number of  years ago, and since I have seen this combination on many, many restaurant menus, but I have never actualized my version before this.

Homemade Ravioli Stuffed with Butternut Squash and Seasoned Greens with Garlic and Parsley Béchamel Sauce:

[OK, I’m already going to lose a couple of you right here: not everyone has the time, patience, or equipment for homemade pasta. Making pasta from scratch can be fun if you have the time, and it is well worth the effort, but if this is a difficulty, just buy the frozen store-bought kind. There are some nice ones that are stuffed with cheese and greens. Skip the pasta and stuffing parts and go straight to the béchamel sauce.]

My recipe for pasta dough was 2+1/4C. Flour+3Eggs+2Tblsp. Olive Oil that had saffron threads crumbled into it. After kneading dough, I put it into a bowl and waited about 30 minutes, cut it into 5 pieces and put it through a pasta-press with smaller and  smaller distances between the rollers until I got to the setting of “7” and then dried the pasta sheets on a wooden drying rack while I cut each sheet into pieces. I uses a teabag envelope as a guide for size. I put about a tablespoon of the stuffings into 1 piece, covered it with another; folded and crimped the edges with fork tines.

For each of the stuffings, you want a fairly dry-ish consistency. Excess water content will weaken the pasta and could make it break during boiling. I kept the two stuffings separate in their own ravioli.

Butternut Squash Stuffing: In a small pan add 1Tblsp. butter+4 Tblsp. diced onion and saute for 2 minutes. Add 1C. diced butternut squash and 1/4C. veggie broth and bring to a boil. Lower to simmer, add a dash or salt, pepper, ground sage, clove, and allspice. Cover and simmer until squash is soft. Mix well and mash slightly with the back of a spoon. Pour off any excess H2O and cool. Before adding to ravioli, mix in 2Tblsp. ricotta cheese to the squash mixture.

Greens Stuffing: Saute 2C. turnip greens and 4Tblsp. onion in 1Tblsp. butter until soft. Add 1Tblsp. mint. Cool. You may add 4Tblsp. ricotta cheese.

Garlic and Parsley Béchamel Sauce: In a medium pan saute 1Tblsp. finely diced elephant garlic and 4Tblsp. washed, dried and diced fresh parsley in 2Tblsp. butter for two minutes. Add 2Tblsp. flour and cook an additional 2 minutes over medium heat. Add 1+1/2C. milk and whisk until thickened. Add a dash of salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Thin with a little milk if too thick. Pour over cooked and drained ravioli.

The squash ravioli was perfect. I liked the ravioli with greens but I’m used to stronger flavored greens. I suspect my guests would prefer a spinach variation ravioli instead.

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5 comments

  1. You do have someone to cook for: me. I’ll attend any meal AND pay for the ingredients (except when I’m not allowed to eat due to bariatric surgery).


    • You are my “favorite customer”, Dan! Always generous, appreciative, and honest with what I do right or wrong. I can never get enough of cooking for you!


  2. Hi Steve, I would bet that Regan had the Ravioli, and you had the squash..She is still a gnocchi, ravioli person. I have found two shops..family run and owned, that make fresh pasta daily. One is in East Haven the other in Rocky Hill Ct. Their pastas are truly homemade, just not in my home..which is perfect due to my abhorrence of working with flour for such a huge project. If flour is required, fine, just not to the extreme of having to “roll out dough”. I feel whoozy just thinking of all the mess.

    so, skip the supermarket pasta and head to a PASTA EMPORIUM..They’re out there!,

    Take care,

    Kathy Avery, Regan’s mom


    • I won’t lie, Kathy…making your own pasta can be a mess, (flour just everywhere) but I had such a craving for it yesterday, I just HAD to make my own. It’s easier with a pasta machine. What’s great about making your own is that you can introduce flavors (like the saffron in yesterdays pasta) and get the texture, size, & shape just the way you want. You can freeze the pasta, too, so it’s time well spent. A perfect rainy-day activity.

      I enjoyed the memory of Regan’s visit and that, that memory inspired a tangible recipe. Regan is one of my favorite people on the planet…and of course…the apple hasn’t fallen far…


      • Aw, shucks!
        Steve, I remember that visit so well! I want to say that you didn’t cook that day because you had been working all weekend, or helping someone move, or building a dock… some other selfless task! So, we had the ravioli, and the memory has lasted. I believe I went home that night with selections from your spice cupboard and a bag of grist-mill ground corn.



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