It’s Pumpkin Ravioli Season. This 100-Year-Old Recipe Comes Straight From Italy.
Deanna Depke of St Louis-based artisan meats company Volpi Foods shares her family's special ravioli recipe
As temperatures drop and leaves fall down, pumpkin-scented, -colored and -flavored items begin popping up on menus and special boards at restaurants, cafes and other eateries across the country. Most of them (looking at you Starbucks) are terrible.
However, in addition to the superfood that is the pumpkin seed, there is at least one pumpkin-themed dish that should be on your dinner table this fall — and for the rest of the year. When Armando Pasetti, the recently deceased patriarch of St Louis-based artisan meats company Volpi Foods, immigrated to the U.S. from Italy at 14 to apprentice under his Uncle John, a family recipe for pumpkin ravioli with sage brown butter came with him.
Deanna Depke, Pasetti’s granddaughter and Volpi’s marketing manager, has been helping to make that same recipe in her grandfather’s kitchen alongside his three daughters, seven other grandchildren and, eventually, 10 great-grandchildren her entire life.
“Pasta-making was a big part of my life growing up because we’re an Italian family and food is a big part of our culture. It was always a big component of everything that we did together,” Depke tells InsideHook. “It’s a traditional recipe from the region in northern Italy where my family is originally from. It’s reminiscent of my grandfather’s home country and is very warm and cozy. It’s one of my favorite recipes. My grandfather had a natural green thumb and could grow literally anything in his backyard, including pumpkins and sage. From start to finish, it was all homegrown, homemade and handmade. It really kind of took a village to make it.”
A staple of the Christmas menu for Depke and her family, the pumpkin ravioli was made with Pasetti measuring out ingredients by the handful and giving instructions over the course of multiple hours. Now, after much consultation amongst family members, there is a recorded recipe.
“It had a lot of steps and required expertise. Somebody that had made the recipe before had to teach the next generation how to make it,” Depke said. “We are very much a family of measuring with our hearts and hands and just keep grating and chopping until it looks good. It was all in the eye. My grandfather would have a chuckle that there is a full-fledged recipe now because he was very much a just-watch-me-and-copy-it person. It’s funny that we broke it down into a step-by-step process.”
Part of that process includes chopping up the Volpi mortadella that the recipe calls for to offset the sweetness of the pumpkin and the saltiness of the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
“Mortadella is super delicate in texture and also silky smooth because it’s slow-roasted. It’s really distinct,” Depke said. “When you chop mortadella up, it helps to keep everything together but also adds depth of flavor because it is not so salty. The depth of flavor it adds is a little bit unexpected. You’re not getting straight sweetness from that pumpkin. The recipe allows salty, savory and a little bit of sweetness to balance.”
And now, thanks to the recipe below, you’re allowed to make it.
Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter
- Pasta roller
- Pastry (bench) scraper
- Pastry cutter, optional
Ingredients for the pumpkin filling
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pats
- 3 to 4 large shallots, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves
- 1 cup solid-pack pure pumpkin (not puree)
- 1/3 cup finely chopped Volpi Mortadella
- ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- Finely grated zest of 1 small lemon
Ingredients for the pasta dough
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling and cutting
- 3 large eggs
Ingredients for serving
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Instructions for the pumpkin filling
- Put butter and shallots in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and sprinkle salt over all.
- Cook, stirring frequently, until butter has melted and shallots are very soft, about 7 minutes.
- Stir in breadcrumbs and sage.
- Cook for 1 minute, then add pumpkin and Mortadella. Stir just until heated through, about 2 minutes.
- Remove pan from heat.
- Add cheese and grated lemon zest, stirring until completely mixed.
- Transfer filling to a bowl, cover loosely, and set aside to cool.
Instructions for the pasta dough
- Put the flour in a mound on a clean work surface and make a well in the middle, large enough to hold the eggs. Break the eggs into the well and beat them lightly with a fork. Use the fork to draw the flour into the egg mixture slowly, moving in a circle around the inside rim of the well. Use your other hand to support the flour wall and keep the eggs from running out onto the surface.
- When enough flour has been mixed into the eggs so they are no longer runny, put down the fork and use your hands to gather everything into one mass. Knead gently until a soft dough is formed, adding just enough flour (if necessary) to hold it together. Lightly flour the dough and set it aside.
- Use a pastry scraper to clean the bits of dough and caked flour off the work surface and discard the residue. Wash and dry your hands. Flour the clean work surface. Knead the dough, gradually adding more flour if needed, until it is smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. Flatten the dough into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Let rest for 30 minutes to hydrate.
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or clean kitchen towels and sprinkle with flour. Unwrap the dough and divide it into four pieces. Work with one piece at a time, rolling and filling it before moving on to the next piece. Lightly flour the remaining pieces and keep them wrapped in plastic wrap until needed.
- To roll the dough, set the pasta machine rollers at the widest opening and feed the piece through. Fold the dough, flatten it with your fingers, and feed it through the same opening again. Do this 6 or 8 times, flouring the dough if it becomes too sticky. This process will knead the dough and get it ready for stretching it thinly.
- Move the rollers to the next setting and feed the dough through, without folding, one time only. Continue to feed the dough through the rollers, moving one notch at a time, until the last setting has been reached and the dough is as thin as possible.
- Place the long sheet of dough on a lightly floured work surface in front of you. Trim the top edge (the one farthest away from you) so that it is straight. Arrange teaspoonfuls of the filling in a single row along the pasta, about 2 ½ inches from the top edge. Leave about 1 ½ inches between each mound. Lightly dab water along the bottom edge of the dough, then fold the top edge down over the filling, enclosing it. Press the edges together firmly. Using a pastry cutter or knife, trim the long bottom edge to be even, then cut between each mound of filling to form individual ravioli. Use your fingers to press the edges of each ravioli together, easing any air out as you do so. Set the ravioli on the baking sheet as finished.
- Repeat the rolling and filling until you run out of pasta or filling. (Leftover pasta can be cut and used for soup, and leftover filling can be stirred into risotto.) Finished ravioli can be left out for several hours, turning them from time to time on the baking sheets, or frozen in a single layer and transferred to freezer bags for longer storage.
Instructions for serving
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- While water heats, melt butter over medium heat in a small saucepan. Add sage and continue to cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the butter smells nutty and is golden-brown. Pour the sage butter into a heat-proof bowl and stir in the salt.
- When the water is boiling, drop in the ravioli, working in batches if necessary. Stir gently until the water returns to a boil. Cook until the ravioli are all floating and the edges are cooked al dente, 5 to 8 minutes. (The best way to check this is to taste one!) Drain the ravioli and transfer them to a large non-stick skillet.
- Set the skillet over low heat and pour the sage butter over the ravioli, swirling them in the pan to coat. Transfer the ravioli to four plates, drizzling any extra sage butter over.
- Serve immediately with additional grated cheese.
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