Homemade Butternut Squash Raviolis

NKC#1: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back. The Pasta Story

Posted by Nicholas Hugh Sam | 24 January 2018 | Read Time: 7 min

It was a Wednesday night I think (I actually don’t know, it just sounds cool to have a specific day) and I was casually scrolling on Facebook, doing my relaxing-brainless activity of the day when I stumbled across a video of a couple doing cooking show called ‘Night In/ Night out’. It’s a pretty cool concept, where this average couple compares the worth of having a night in vs a night out. In this episode, the night in was cooking homemade butternut squash raviolis and the night out was going to this fancy Italian restaurant. They made the homemade pastas sound SO easy to make and at this point, after making a lasagna and homemade tacos, my confidence was pretty high that I could also make homemade pastas. That is why, last Friday, I decided to make homemade butternut squash raviolis. Boy was this a mess !

Just to be clear, by ‘homemade’, I mean doing the dough and the filling from scratch, assembling them together, cooking them and, also, making a sauce to go with it.

The Setup: I usually always cook with my girlfriend, but for some reason, we were able to both be available that night so I had to do it alone (better get started on cooking alone because I’m supposed to do my end challenge also !). My mom was also in the house (thank god she was), but I insisted that she wouldn’t have to help me. All she had to do was relax and enjoy my cooking.

The Filling: To my surprise, the filling was actually really easy to do. All I needed was to cut this big ass butternut squash that I bought (I ended using like 1/6 of the thing), chop some onions and garlic, spray some olive oil and put it in the oven. Once that was done, I was to simply put it in the food processor and voilà I had myself some butternut squash filling ! The only thing that went wrong was that the vegetables were slightly burnt, but it gave it a nice little burnt taste, which I didn’t mind.

Lesson#1: My oven is pretty powerful so instead of putting the vegetables on the middle rack, I can put it on the highest rack (since the heat comes from down below when you bake). This should be enough not to burn the vegetables. Lesson#2: Everyone should do this, but checking on the state of your vegetables is also a good way not to burn them.

The Freaking Raviolis: This is where shit went down and all hell broke loose. I’ll break down this section into 4 parts: Making the dough, shaping/molding the dough, assembling the raviolis and finally cooking the raviolis.

  1. Making the Dough
    I don’t know if my food processor was too weak or something, but after putting all the raw ingredients and pulsing them, I was expecting (like all the videos I watched) the dough to slowly turn and then reach a point, where it’s all bundled up and spinning as one big ass dough-ball (see the image below taken from David So’s Cooking Video). But for some reason, the food processor started out spinning and then at some point, it just STOPPED moving. The dough was so sticky that my food processor couldn’t spin it anymore. I swear it was SO sticky to the point, where it felt like glue in my hands. Obviously, I knew that it shouldn’t be like that so being the smart and to-be engineer that I am, I took matters into my hands and decided to give all that matter into my mom’s hands. Yeah, I just yelled out “MOOOOOM, THE MACHINE IS BROKEN”. From this point on, my mom just started helping me because we would have never ate if I was doing this alone. Our solution came in the most random moment, where I was panicking and was trying to search on google what might have gone wrong while my mom was just randomly playing with the dough that was stuck on her hands. After playing with it a bit, she was like “hey look, it dough looks good now”. So that was the solution, take the whole thing out, put a bit of flour and roll it a bit until it became the right consistency.

    Lesson#3: I always give up way too easily when things don’t work out as expected, but I should really learn to be patient and be random I guess?
    Lesson#4: If your dough is too sticky, just roll it, BUT don’t play with it too much because it’ll become dense and make hard pasta.

    How the Dough Was Supposed to Look Like

  2. Shaping/Molding the Dough
    Spoiler Alert: I sucked at rolling dough.
    Well, to start off, I thought we had one of those dough rollers at home, but apparently we didn’t, so I ended up using a full bottle of wine instead (we had to empty bottles). Yeah, not only did I have to worry about rolling the dough properly, but I also had to worry about not breaking the damn bottle! The first patch of pastas was pretty well done to be honest and after this batch, I was like shit, I can actually pull off this homemade pasta thing. But then, on the second batch, everything went wrong. My wine bottle was sticking to the dough so I couldn’t roll it properly, I was pushing the dough too hard or something and consequently, the dough kept sticking to my table (oh yeah, we also didn’t have a fancy wooden board or anything so I was just rolling on our dining table) and finally, my mom even tried to use her pasta making machine and even that couldn’t help us!! It was a truly maddening experience and I really wanted to give up, but we only had 12 raviolis done and that couldn’t feed 3 people. My mom eventually took over for the second batch and she found a trick to not make the dough stick (I swear, she’s such a good cook) to table and with that trick, I was able to finish the second and third batches pretty easily.

    Lesson#5: Put some flour regularly on the wine bottle so that the dough doesn’t stick as much to the bottle, but not too much because it’ll make the dough dry.
    Lesson#6: For the dough not to stick to the table, all you have to do is flip-over the dough after every roll. I don’t know if that’s an actual trick, but it worked for me!.

  3. Assembling the Raviolis
    Well, to be honest, this wasn’t really hard. The video suggested using an ice-cube tray to assemble the raviolis, but I found that it didn’t really work as the raviolis were pretty flat. Instead, you can use the tray just to put both sheets of dough together and then use your fingers to manually construct the ravioli shape.
    Lesson#7: If the two sheets of dough don’t stick together, you can just dap a bit of water on the dough and it should seal it better.

    Lesson#8: Having a pizza cutter or pasta cutter makes cutting the dough easier, but, like me, you can simply use a knife.

  4. Cooking the Raviolis
    This was the very last step and thank GOD it was easy. All you had to do was wait until the pasta floated and it should usually be ready. Be cautious; however, that if your dough is THICK, it will float before being ready.

Conclusion:
And voilà, just like that I was able to make my own homemade butternut squash raviolis! It took a lot of effort, the estimated time was 1 ½ hours, but it actually took me 3. We ended up eating at 9pm instead of 7pm, which was unfortunate. My biggest takeaway here was that I gave up waaaaaay too easily and that I should try to stick through things. I think that the only true way of learning is in Failure and failed is what I did. I officially announce that because this was my hardest challenge yet, I will be re-doing it in my final challenge as my third meal.

Note: The recipe called for a “sage butter sauce”, but I wasn’t interested in any butter sauce so I asked my mom to show me a simple tomato sauce, which went really well with the sweetness of the butternut squash. Overall, I would rate this 7/10 just because the dough wasn’t made properly. Taste-wise, it was really good imo. Peace.

-Nich.

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