Our first winter storm is on the way, forecasted to start tonight and drop over a foot of snow by Tuesday morning, and I am SO excited. Each day has gotten progressively cooler, aspens all aflutter with their shimmering golden leaves being blown about by the winds of change. In my imagination, they’re all chattering with one another: “Can you feel it? Winter is coming!”. As I write this, I’m watching dead pine needles falling to the ground, carried by the wind from high up, where flexible, knobby branches are buffeted about. Chipmunks and squirrels scurry, searching for food in between the needles. Their senses must be so much more heightened than ours for changes in the air, key to their very survival. They must know snow is on the way, but we’ve put out some extra bird seed just in case.
As for us, we’ve packed up the deck furniture and moved it under the eaves, hoping that will be good enough, and checked our food stocks. We can walk to the grocery store if needed tomorrow, but would rather sink into a good book by the fire with a hot bowl of soup. Or better yet, some of the pasta I made earlier this week and froze, starting with these ravioli.
One night at the hotel that was our base in Chiavari, a not-so-small town in the Cinque Terre area of Liguria, an interesting cheese ravioli topped with pears and balsamic vinegar popped up on the menu. I honestly couldn’t image the combination, but my curiosity was peaked, and urged by our teacher/group leader I ordered it. It turns out to be a traditional Italian pasta dish, and it was so good I wondered that I hadn’t noticed it earlier. I had to make it.
As I tossed ideas around in my head for this dish, as a bow to autumn, I roasted some butternut squash and puréed it with some ricotta and parmesan cheese and made the pasta per the step-by-step homemade pasta instruction I posted yesterday. I sautéed the pears in browned butter and drizzled the dish at the end with reduced balsamic vinegar. Divine.
As a note, this ravioli freezes beautifully, and can be an easy dish to whip together if you’ve got some stashed in the freezer. It can be served as an entrée for your family, or as the first course for a more formal dinner with just a few ravioli scattered artfully on a plate with the pears and balsamic. Either way, I hope you give it a try.
Butternut-Ricotta Filled Ravioli with Brown Butter Pears and Balsamic Drizzle
- Sheets of pasta per my Step-by-Step Homemade Pasta instructions
- 6 ounces butternut squash
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 ounces apples, peeled (a couple of slices)
- 1 – 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
- 6 1/2 ounces ricotta cheese
- 1 1/2 ounce chevre, soft goat cheese
- 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
- healthy pinch of kosher salt
Brown Butter Pears and Balsamic Drizzle
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter
- 3 Barlett pears, peeled and cored
- Balsamic Reduction
- Parmesan cheese, grated
- Fresh thyme
Making the Pasta and Filling
Follow the Step-by-Step Homemade Pasta instructions for making the pasta, filling and forming the ravioli.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Slice off the neck portion of butternut squash that weighs about half a pound. Peel. There shouldn’t be any seeds in this portion, but if there are, remove them. Chop up the squash into 1″ pieces, place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, toss in a little olive oil, and roast until soft and slightly caramelized.
Sauté the apple in a little butter over medium heat until soft.
Combine the squash, apple, cheeses and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade, and purée.
Making the Brown Butter Pears and Balsamic Drizzle
Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Do not use a coated or dark pan, as it will be difficult to track the changing color of the butter as it browns. This frequently translates into burned butter. The butter will melt and start to bubble. Soon, the bubbling activity will dissipate and the butter will start to brown. I brown mine to a deep golden color for this dish.
Add the pears and sauté in the browned butter until just soft.
Follow the directions here to make the balsamic reduction.
Spoon the pears and browned butter over the pasta.
Drizzle 1 – 2 teaspoons of balsamic reduction over each serving (or more, to taste).
Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese and fresh thyme over the top. Serve warm.