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Sunday Dinner: Butternut Squash Tortelloni

Posted Dec 13 2009 12:20pm
I don’t often post on Sundays, but I realized that there are some recipes that are just weekend-worthy. I love quickie dinners as much as the next girl, but sometimes you just want to make love in your kitchen, you know? And, well, I love the idea of a Sunday dinner. Spend your day being lazy and your afternoon prepping a lovely meal. You can invite a friend over (or a few friends!), open a bottle of wine, enjoy delicious food, and feel much better about the weekend ending.

For the first Sunday Dinner, I had to post the butternut squash tortelloni I made for my cookie party! Making your own tortelloni from scratch is time-consuming, but it’s a nice activity to do with a roommate or friend. You can  make this recipe in stages: make the squash mixture one day and refrigerate it, make the tortelloni the next (and freeze them for up to a month). The sauce takes a few minutes, so at my cookie party, all I had to do was drop the frozen tortelloni in boiling water for five minutes while I made the sauce. Easy entertaining! The final product, from Giada’s Everyday Pasta, is an absolute standout.

Ingredients

For the tortelloni…

1 butternut squash, approximately 2 pounds, peeled and cubed (about 3 cups)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons

1 1/2 teaspoon herbs de Provence

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

2 large shallots, chopped (about 1/2 cup)

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 cup fat-free ricotta cheese

4 small amaretti cookies, crushed (about 1/3 cup) **I looked at three stores for these Italian cookies, and had no luck. You can order them online, but in the interest of time and money, I just made my own using this recipe. You only need three ingredients, and then you have all the leftover cookies to enjoy!

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 packages small wonton wrappers (Usually in the refrigerated section of the produce area, with the tofu and veggie burgers)

For the sauce…

1/2 cup butter

2 tablespoons torn fresh sage leaves

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted (Bake for 5-10 minutes at 350 degrees, until fragrant and golden brown)

1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped dried cherries, or mixture of both

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

This is How We Do It

To make the tortellini, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. On a foil-lined baking sheet toss together the butternut squash, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, herbs de Provence, salt, and pepper.

Bake in the oven until soft and golden, about 25 minutes.

Um, it was at this point when I knew this recipe was going to be outstanding. The smell of the roasting squash and the herbs de Provence is just insanely good.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a small saute pan over medium heat. Cook the shallots and garlic until lightly golden, about 3 minutes.

Combine the butternut squash mixture, the shallot mixture, and the ricotta cheese.

Put in the food processor (in batches, if necessary) and pulse a few times to blend. Add the crushed amaretti cookies, the nutmeg, and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pulse until smooth.

Now, the filling is actually surprisingly mild. I expected it to be very rich, but it’s definitely light. Satisfying but not going to knock you out!

To make the tortellini, lay out four wonton skins, keeping the remaining skins inside the package or under a very lightly dampened paper towel so they do not get too dry.

Place 1 teaspoon of squash mixture in the middle of each skin. Dip a pastry brush (or clean paintbrush) in a little water and wet the edges of the skin.

Gently fold the square wrapper into a triangle, making sure the edges are securely closed and there are no air pockets inside.

Dampen the two bottom corners of the longest side of the triangle and gently bring them together, pressing lightly to secure. So…you fold, then fold again.

The key to making these is to use a very, very small amount of the squash mixture. If you put in too much, the wonton wrappers will burst and the mixture will ooze out when you try to fold them. Trust me on this!

Place the formed tortellini on a baking sheet.

Before laying out more wonton sheets, be careful to dry the work surface. This will help keep tortellini from sticking to the baking sheet.

Continue until all the butternut squash mixture is used. It took me a few tries to really get the hang of it, but once I hit my stride, I was good to go. Because I used such a small amount of squash, I was able to make around 80 tortelloni. Luckily, you can freeze them for later! Cover the baking sheet in foil while you freeze, and then transfer them to a freezer bag or airtight plastic container and store for up to a month.

When you are ready to serve, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the sage, walnuts and cranberries and let cook until the butter starts to brown, about 3 minutes.

Turn the heat off and season with salt, and pepper.

Carefully place the tortellini in the boiling water and gently stir. When they begin to float they are done, about 3 minutes (five minutes if they are frozen). Using a slotted spoon, gently spoon the tortellini onto a serving platter. Top with the sauce and Parmesan cheese.

EAT!

This recipe is fantastic! For me, I like pasta to be very light, and this fits the bill. It’s not too cheesy and you shouldn’t feel weighed down after you eat it, which is important to me (I did cut her whole milk ricotta and a half a stick of butter from it though). It’s just so beautiful too…perfect for a holiday dinner party or even for Christmas Eve!

Making the tortelloni is time-consuming, so I really recommend making the mixture on one day and making the tortelloni the next. Actually filling them is rather relaxing, though, so just get comfortable and go at it. It’s so, so worth it!

Make a quick salad, pour some white wine, and take your time eating.

Happy Sunday!

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  3. Shed Kitchen: Spinach and Goat Cheese Pasta

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