The Challenges of Pumpkin Ravioli


Ahhhh the plight of the ambitious home cook.

Rule number one of making your own ravioli: have a lot of time. “Time yet for a hundred indecisions and for a hundred visions and revisions” before you commit to making ravioli. That’s how much time you need. Well, not quite that much, I guess, but all told assembling the dough, letting it rest, and rolling it out took me about two hours. Two hours is a lot of Yale time. And I was determined to get at least a B+ on the dish on my first try. The filling was the easy part—just chopped walnuts, ricotta and parmesan cheeses, mashed in with some nutmeg, ginger, garlic, and pumpkin puree. It was deliciously spiced and fluffy, but would these jewels of flavor be ruined by their imperfect pasta prisons? That brings me to rule number two.

Rule number two: have a pasta machine. Your arms might be slightly flabbier, but you’ll get what you want a whole lot faster. If, like me, you don’t have one, well…

Rule number three: have a rolling pin and some serious upper body strength. And determination. That’s all.

Rule number four: do not over-flour the surface of the dough when rolling it out. It tends to get all crusty and fragile, and that hasn’t been in style since I ruled the jungle gym and skinned knees were cool. You want to make sure that the dough is still pliable enough so that when you pull on it slightly to stretch it as you’re rolling it out it doesn’t break like a crappy piece of receipt paper. The next rule follows this vein.

Rule number five: stick with your project. If you walk away for too long or take a ten minute break to dance to “She-Wolf” and “Single-Ladies” while pretending to wear a black leotard, the pasta will dry out even further and you won’t be able to get them to properly encase the filling without cracking.

Of course, rule number six is: you think you can’t, but you can save any disaster. I can’t account for most failures, but with the pasta dough I found that brushing it or dabbing its surface with some water once it was rolled out revived it just enough so that I could finish making the actual ravioli.

How’d they turn out? Pretty good actually! The cooked ravioli pasta wasn’t as elastic as I wanted it to be, but that has more to do with the fact that I’m working with .22s, not semis. And now I have all sorts of nifty life lessons to add to my archive of do’s and don’ts. So if you’re into making pasta this holiday season, have at it. Just make sure to keep ravioli rules one thru six in the back of your mind. Particularly rule number two.


Recipe after the jump.

Pumpkin Ravioli with Browned Butter Ginger Sauce (Serves 4-6)

Pasta Dough

3 cups of flour

3 large eggs

½ tsp. salt

1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Pumpkin Filling

1 ¼ cups of roasted pumpkin puree (or 1 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree)

½ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon chopped ginger

½ tablespoon chopped garlic

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

¼ cup ricotta cheese

1 egg

Browned Butter Ginger Sauce

1 tbsp. sliced ginger

4 tbsp. butter

  1. Mix flour and salt together. Make a well in the center of the pasta and crack the eggs into the center. This is pasta, old school.
  2. Beat the eggs in the center and gradually fold in the flour with your hands.
  3. When the dough starts to come together, knead it for approx 8-12 minutes until it forms smooth ball. Let it rest for 30 minutes to an hour.
  4. While the dough is resting, combine the ingredients for the pumpkin filling together in a bowl.
  5. Pasta maker (or rolling pin time). Roll out the dough, preferably into a large rectangle until it is thin enough that you can see your fingers through it. Lightly flour it as you’re rolling it out to keep it from sticking.
  6. Beat the egg to make an egg wash that will help the pasta stick to itself.
  7. Take a teaspoon and lay down the filling on one half of the pasta sheet in an array. Brush the egg wash in the spaces on that half of the pasta and fold the top over. Push the dough down between the pumpkin hills to ensure that the pasta is sticking.
  8. Take a pizza cutter or a cup or ravioli cutter and cut the ravioli into squares (or other shapes).
  9. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the ravioli about 7-10 at a time. Fresh pasta should only take about 3-4 minutes to cook. Set aside finished ravioli in a strainer.
  10. Brown the butter in a saucepan and add the sliced ginger. When the ginger browns, turn the heat off and coat the ravioli in the browned butter. Serve.

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