January 4, 2006

Sweet Potato Ravioli

I went back to work yesterday after our 2 weeks off for Noel. Did I mention I'm learning how to teach English to little French kids? It's one of those things where you try to get qualified after getting the gig. Anyway, it was back to work for me and all went surprisingly well. The thing about getting back into the swing of things for me is that I feel depressed about it at first and then it never ends up being as bad as I think. It turns out that being busy in life isn't that much of a drag after all. All this is to say that now that I am writing about the food I cook, I'm looking forward to cooking a lot more. Despite the crowded and dirty metro, seeing a homeless guy passed out next to a pile of his own (I'm assuming) vomit, and the 6 floor walk-up to home sweet home, I came back quite excited to get dinner started.

I had these ravioli pasta sheets/Chinese dumpling wrappers from when we were in Chinatown. As usual, I searched online for recipes and settled on a few. Sweet Potato Ravioli with a Sage Butter Sauce sounded really good. There are many variations using pumpkin or butternut squash, and they are all very rich. It's possible this would be better for a first course, but it was our entire dinner. Screw it, we ate around 9:30 and I didn't have the energy to make a salad. Well, that's my excuse.

Perhaps this is too much of a diversion, but something has been bothering me lately. I never really follow a recipe anymore. I usually just get the temperature or method to do something, but the ingredients are always "whatever I have." Why do I continually half ass it like that? I think I too often say "fuck it" when shopping here because one invariably must walk all over hell and back to find everything on the list. I give up too easily. Dried sage will do. A different kind of cheese is fine. I'm yearning to have everything. I want it to, just once, be exactly what is written and for me to not have to think, "Well, I probably won't get that, I can do without it." Right now I do without. It's like some sort of built in cheapskate mode I've inherited. The little part of me that says, "Oh, don't bother with that." It's the tiny justification in that moment that I shouldn't try to be more than I am.

Anyway, my cooking almost always tastes good, don't get me wrong. I usually just wish it looked prettier. I've been sitting on my haunches (do I have those?) for too long and it's time to try new things and get some fancy food in my life. Call it a New Year's resolution.

So, as for my ravioli, they tasted damn good. They didn't look half bad either, but because I didn't buy fresh sage (mind you, it's 1 of the 3 ingredients in the butter sauce), it was just a lot of beige pasta with butter and parmesan. I slyly added ground sage to the filling which turned out well. If you make the real recipe, I'm sure it will even be better.

Sweet Potato Ravioli with Sage Butter Sauce

1 large sweet potato, roasted until very soft (190 C/375 F for 45 min.)
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
pinch of dried sage, or chopped fresh
pinch of dried thyme
salt and pepper
1/2 cup ricotta cheese, whole milk
1/4 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano, more for topping
1 egg, beaten with 1 Tbsp. water for egg wash
18 or more ravioli pasta sheets or wonton wrappers

3 Tbsp. butter
4-5 leaves fresh sage, chopped
2 Tbsp. pine nuts

Sweat onion in a tsp. of olive oil, mixing in sage and thyme after a few minutes. When translucent, transfer to a large bowl. Peel/Slide the skin off the potato and add the potato to the bowl. Mix in the cheeses until smooth. Season liberally with salt and pepper, tasting to check seasoning. Take one pasta sheet and place a large teaspoonful of filling in the center. With a fingertip (or pastry brush) brush some egg wash on the edges of the wrapper and fold over filling to form a triangle. Seal edges firmly, and squeeze as much air out of the pocket as possible. When you have finished, cook ravioli in large pot of boiling water for about 2-3 minutes, drain and add to sauce.

Making the sauce is extremely difficult and I would only attempt it after your first glass of wine. Melt butter in a sauté pan over medium high heat until it starts to brown, add pine nuts, fresh sage, and cooked ravioli and toss to coat the pasta. Take it off the heat and sprinkle with extra parmesan. Feel the rightful glory of making your own pasta, even though you didn't really make your own pasta.


Anonymous said...

Bonjour Megane!

Emily and Adam mentioned your blog, and I have enjoyed reading your culinary adventures! This one in particular caught my eye as I have a very similar recipe that is very near and dear to my heart. I got the original recipe from the big head on a stick (you know who I am talking about) and have kind of played with it since the first time I made it. I thought I would share the differences in case you were ever in the mood for a change of ravioli pace...

So, basically, I buy pre-made refrigerated ravioli (either butternut squash, pumpkin, or sweet potato) if I can find it. I have enough trouble finding it in the states, so I am sure this is impossible for you, plus your recipe for the ravioli itself sounds fantastic! Once I tried to make it from scratch with homemade pasta dough and lost about half of the ravioli to the gears of the ravioli machine I was using - totally not worth it.

OK, so other than that, the difference is in the sauce. I melt a few tablespoons of butter and add some fresh sage leaves until they are fried and the butter is beginning to brown. Then, I add freshly ground nutmeg, some salt and pepper if I feel like it (sometimes I use white pepper), and just a pinch of cinnamon if I feel like it. Then I take it off the heat, mix in the ravioli, and top it with a bit more nutmeg, toasted chopped hazelnuts, the kicker - ground/chopped gingersnaps (the original recipe called for ameretti cookies which I could not find, but I love the 'snaps instead), and parmesan, again, if I feel like it. So, voila! In the time it takes to boil the ravioli, you get dinner and dessert in one dish!

Thanks for your stories and recipes - I look forward to trying some! I hope you and Paul are doing well - Chris and I miss you!

love, Erin

MEGalomaniac said...

Have been looking for interesting savoury sweet potato recipes - and sage butter sweet potato ravioli sounds gorgeous. Found a couple of recipes, but none that incorporate ricotta. Interestingly I think the other difference is you use onion instead of shallots and pine nuts instead of almond flakes. Will def have to try a couple variations in the future. I must say I love the flavour toasted pine nuts infuse into a dish!