Butternut Tortelloni with Browned Butter Sauce

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Fall has finally arrived and that’s when I get excited about cooking with seasonal ingredients.  Butternut squash is one of my favorite choices to cook with.  I especially love butternut squash ravioli but, I don’t really like making them unless I have an army of helpers.  In my opinion, tortelloni are easier to make than ravioli once you’ve mastered the art of making them. For those of you that have never heard or seen tortelloni, they are a larger version of tortellini. They also hold sauces better than ravioli because it reaches into the crevices and makes for a more flavorful pasta bite.  I love those fat, plump mouthfuls of filled pasta.

The trick to making good tortelloni (or tortellini) is to get as much filling as possible into the pasta without it oozing out so that you taste the filling more than the dough.  It is also essential to make the filling as dry as possible, which is why I strain the butternut squash overnight; otherwise, the filling would be too wet.

Butternut Squash Tortelloni with Browned Butter Sauce

Difficulty Rating: Moderate
Makes 3 ½ dozen (or 8 servings).

For the Pasta Dough
2 1/2 to 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
(1/4 cup butternut squash puree reserved from filling)
1 teaspoon salt

For the Filling
1 large butternut squash (weighing 2 1/2-pounds)
1/2 cup well drained ricotta
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pepper
Few gratings fresh nutmeg

For the Sauce
1 stick butter
4 ounces diced pancetta
20 fresh sage leaves
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts

For Serving
Shredded Parmesan cheese
Fresh ground black pepper

Special Equipment Needed:  Pasta roller or pasta machine, 3 1/2-inch round cutter

Cook the Squash:  Prepare the squash the night before you make the tortelloni.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Cut the squash in half lengthwise.  Place the halves, cut side up, on baking sheet and bake until tender when fork is inserted, about 1 1/2 hours.  Allow the squash to cool on the baking sheet. 

Line a strainer with coffee filters or a lint-free kitchen towel and place over a bowl.  Remove the seeds from the squash and discard.  Spoon out the pulp and place in a food processor.  Process until smooth. 

Place the squash puree into the strainer and refrigerate overnight. 

Make the Pasta Dough:  Place the flour on a board or flat surface. 

Make a well in the center and add the eggs, 1/4 cup of squash puree, and salt.  Using a fork, beat the eggs and squash together and slowly incorporate the flour until a rough dough is formed.  Incorporate the remaining flour with your hands. Knead the dough for approximately 8 minutes, until smooth and elastic. 

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate dough for 1 hour.

Make the Filling:  Melt the butter in a small non-stick skillet over medium low heat.  Add the onion, garlic, and sage.  Cook for approximately 4 minutes, until the garlic starts to color. 

You should have approximately 1 1/2 cups of pureed squash.  Place the squash into a food processor.  Add the onion mixture and ricotta, and process until smooth.  Season with pepper and nutmeg.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Make the Tortelloni: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Cut the pasta dough in quarters. 

Using a pasta machine, roll out one quarter of the dough on until thin (#6 on Kitchen Aide Pasta Roller).  Cut rounds of dough using the cutter.  Place a scant tablespoon of filling onto each round.  Lightly dampen the edges of half of the round with a finger dipped in water.  Do not use too much water.  Bring the edges together, over the filling to fold in half to form a half circle.  Press well along the edges to seal the filling in.  Gently fold the top half of the circle over, while wrapping the long edge of the around your index finger.  For more detailed information on making tortelloni see my recipe for veal tortelloni http://asicilianpeasantstable.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=3074&action=edit.

Lightly dampen one point with water and press both points together to form a donut shape.  

Cook the Tortelloni:  Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  Add the tortelloni.  Stir occasionally until they float to the top.  Cook approximately 4 minutes longer.  Drain the pasta and place in a large serving bowl. 

Tip: You can make and freeze the tortelloni ahead of time.  To freeze, line a baking sheet with parchment paper, arrange the tortelloni in a single layer and place in freezer for several hours.  Remove from baking sheet and place in a freezer bag.  Freeze up to 2 months. 

Make the Sauce:  Place the butter, pancetta, and sage leaves in a large skillet over low heat.  Slowly cook until the butter is browned, the pancetta is golden, and the sage is crispy, about 10 minutes.  Pour the sauce over the tortelloni, add the walnuts and toss lightly to coat the pasta. Serve with fresh ground pepper and parmesan cheese.

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