Search This Blog

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Double Squashed

So, how on earth did I leave the market with an unlikely combination of clunky acorn squash, summer
heirloom tomatoes, Asian pears, feathery oyster mushrooms, and delicate late season squash blossoms? It's that crazy time of year at the farmers' market when the growing seasons seem to bleed into each other. Bins of summer tomatoes, baby yellow squash, herbs, and watercress happily line up on tables next to pumpkins, gourds, butternut squash, apples, and pears. Tomatoes and pumpkins. Is it summer or fall? Season straddling taunting confusion. It's a lot to take in. Mix and match.

Acorn Squash Ravioli with Other Stuff.
Butternut squash ravioli with sage and brown butter is the typical go-to winter squash-filled ravioli preparation. Sometimes, hazelnuts are thrown in for crunch.  It's a classic pairing because it works and is downright perfect. Well, I'm a sucker for acorn squash when it hits the market, so I changed things up a bit.

I split 2 large Silas Farm striped acorn squash in half before scooping out the seeds and piercing the skins.
After drizzling them with olive oil, I roasted them cut side down for 45 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven until they were fork tender. When the squishy squash halves cooled down, I pureed the soft cooked flesh with a pinch of nutmeg, salt, pepper, and 1 cup of parmigiano reggiano.

I could sleep under sheets of pasta. Soft, puffy, and warm. Stuff it, quilt it, and call it a duvet. While the squash roasted in the oven, I threw together a fairly basic pasta dough.  I sifted 2 cups 00 flour into a very large bowl before adding 3 whole eggs, 1 egg yolk, salt, and 1 tablespoon olive oil.  After gradually pulling the flour into the eggs with my fingertips until it was combined, I added a splash of water to loosen it up before kneading the dough for 15 minutes, wrapping it in plastic wrap, and setting it aside for an hour to rest.

While it's messy work, I adore rolling pasta. Using a bench scraper, I cut the wedge of dough into 4 equal portions. After dusting the dough with flour, I passed it through the roller 2 or 3 times on the lowest setting to knead it and prepare it for the big stretch. When the dough felt right, I rolled it out, changing the settings for thinner sheets after each pass.  When I reached the next to last setting, I dusted the sheets with flour and set them aside. Typically, when I make angel hair pasta or fettucini, I allow the pasta to dry somewhat before cutting it into ribbons. However, when filling raviolis, it's easier to seal the edges when the dough is still pliable.

I dotted the pasta sheets with 1 tablespoon of the pureed acorn squash, painted the edges with egg wash,
and topped the filling with another pasta sheet. After pressing out the air, I sealed the edges, used a fluted ravioli stamp to cut the pasta, dusted them with flour, and slid them into the refrigerator to chill.

The Other Stuff.
Stuffed squash blossoms. Squash blossoms are a rarity at our farmers' market. A few vendors have told me that they're just too labor intensive to harvest.  On top of that, only the male blossoms can be harvested to allow the squash to keep producing. Who knew? When I came across a few baby squash blossoms from Blue Moon Farm, I squealed a small  internal squeal. They were gorgeous. It seemed so weird to see them in October. I felt like I was cheating.

I carefully clipped the pistels from inside the blossoms, stuffed the blossoms with whipped goat cheese, twisted the ends to enclose the filling, and set them aside. After preheating the deep fryer to 350 degrees, I whisked rice flour and soda water together until it was the consistency of a loose crepe/tempura batter. When the oil reached 350 degrees, I dipped the stuffed blossoms into the batter, briefly deep fried them, removed them to drain on a dish towel, and sprinkled them with sea salt.

Brown butter. In lieu of the more traditional sage butter, I opted for a fresh rosemary brown butter. Sage is fabulous with butternut squash, but I prefer rosemary with acorn squash. I killed two birds with one stone. I melted 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a small cast iron skillet before adding a few fresh rosemary sprigs and sliced Blue Moon Farm oyster mushrooms. When the butter foamed, receded, and started to brown, I splashed it with
white balsamic vinegar for a hint of acidity and pulled the skillet from the heat.

Note. It takes approximately 1 1/2 glasses of wine for water to boil.

I brought a huge stock pot of water to a rolling boil, doused it with kosher salt, and dropped the raviolis into the hot bath. Within minutes, they bobbed to the top and were finished cooking.  Using a spider, I scooped them out of the water, patted them dry, and slid them onto serving plates. After drizzling the raviolis with the rosemary brown butter, I tumbled the sauteed oyster mushrooms and fried stuffed squash blossoms to the side before finishing with fresh rosemary.

For such ordinary looking ravioli, there was a lot going on. The natural sweetness of the pureed acorn
squash was tempered by the salty parmigiano-reggiano cheese and the piney fresh rosemary. When sliced, the filling oozed from the pasta like yellow ocher pudding and mixed with the nutty brown butter, creating a bonus sauce for the airy pasta. Win. While the sauteed oyster mushrooms added soft earthiness, the goat cheese stuffed squash blossoms countered with tangy crunch. Light. Crisp. Rich.

Acorn squash ravioli. Stuffed squash blossoms. Sauteed oyster mushrooms.
Fall and summer...on a plate.

Go figure.

No comments: