When we visited Blacksnake Meadery for our Virginia Winery Tour and found a mead infused with honey, butternut squash, and pumpkin pie spices we knew it could inspire a tasty fall menu. We decided to extract one of the key ingredients from the mead, butternut squash, and use it to create a ravioli. Used in tandem with savory flavors from Italian sausage and garlic, the sweet squash worked as a great filling in our homemade ravioli shells. Topped off with a creamy white sauce, the dish presents your palette with many different flavors and textures.
While the mead that we used for inspiration wasn’t exactly our favorite (see my review below) it still served as inspiration for a great meal. A word of warning: This recipe is pretty time consuming. I made the squash puree two days before and the pasta dough the day before, but we were still in the kitchen for several hours putting everything together the day we finished the ravioli. Maybe not such a big deal for some people but we have to cook, take pictures, eat, and then hand wash EVERYTHING because we don’t have a dishwasher… I know, life is tough, right?
Blacksnake Meadery is a mom and pop operation that Nathan and I visited during our VA winery tour. It is the first and only brand of Mead that Nathan and I have tasted so we cannot be said to be connoisseurs of honey wine. However, being inexperienced doesn’t stop us from giving our opinion. Neither of us prefer sweet wines and Squashed presents a combination of sweet, sour, and smoky flavors that we found to be unpleasant in scent and taste and just not up our respective alleys.
That being said, Squashed incorporates some of Autumn’s most beloved flavors: Wildflower honey, butternut squash, and “pumpkin pie spices”. Mead is not a drink that I would choose to drink again, but if this combination of flavors sounds like something you would enjoy, give Squashed a try!
We thought that this autumn inspired meal was the perfect opportunity to pair our fall beer with a dish. Head over to our post about this tasty beverage for more information.
Butternut Squash Ravioli
Step 1: Roast the squash. I bought a 5 lb. squash which made way too much for the ravioli. However, too much squash is a good thing! It is a great side dish or it can easily be transformed into a soup, salad, etc. Peel squash, cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and cut it into chunks. Grease the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan with olive oil and place all the squash chunks into the pan. Drizzle olive oil over the squash and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the minced garlic and toss the chunks around with your hands so that all the squash is seasoned and coated with oil. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake at 350 for approximately an hour or until squash is soft. When the squash is done transfer to a food processor and blend until smooth. Allow to cool and use immediately or keep in the fridge until ready to use. I made the squash 2 days before we made the ravioli.
Step 2: The Pasta Dough
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, plus 1 for egg wash
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
To make the pasta dough: In an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour and salt. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and continue to mix. Drizzle in 1 tablespoons of the olive oil and continue to incorporate all the flour until it forms a ball. Sprinkle some flour on work surface, knead and fold the dough until elastic and smooth, this should take about 8 minutes. Brush the surface with the remaining olive oil and wrap the dough in plastic wrap; let rest for about 30 minutes (or refrigerate overnight like we did) to allow the gluten to relax.
Step 3: The Filling
1 Tbs. butter
1/4 of an onion, minced very fine
1 1/4 cups roasted butternut squash puree
3 tablespoons heavy cream
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Pinch of nutmeg
1 recipe pasta dough
Basil leaves to garnish
In a large saute pan, over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the onion and saute for 1 minute. Add the squash puree and cook until the mixture is slightly dry, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the cream and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in 3 tablespoons cheese and nutmeg, to taste. Season with salt and pepper. Cool completely.
Cut the ball of pasta dough in 1/2, cover and reserve the piece you are not immediately using to prevent it from drying out. Dust the counter and dough with a little flour. Press the dough into a rectangle and roll it through a pasta machine, 2 or 3 times, at widest setting. Pull and stretch the sheet of dough with the palm of your hand as it emerges from the rollers. Reduce the setting and crank the dough through again, 2 or 3 times. Continue tightening until the machine is at the narrowest setting; the dough should be paper-thin, about 1/8-inch thick (you should be able to see your hand through it.). Dust the sheets of dough with flour as needed.
Beat 1 egg with 1 tablespoon of water to make an egg wash. Dust the counter and sheet of dough with flour, lay out the long sheet of pasta, and cut out circles (we used the edge of a coffee cup.) Drop 2 tablespoons of your favorite filling in the center of a dough circle and brush another dough circle with egg wash before laying it on top. Gently press out the air pockets with your fingers and crimp the edge with the tines of a fork to make a tight seal.
Cook the ravioli in plenty of boiling salted water for 3-4 minutes; they’ll float to the top when ready, so be careful not to overcrowd the pot.
Step 4: The Sauce
2 Tbs. Butter
2 Tbs. Flour
1 cup of milk
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 Tbs. Parmesan cheese
Chopped basil, to taste
Melt butter in small saucepan and whisk in flour. Continue stirring over low heat for 4-5 minutes. Cooking for this length of time will minimize ‘flour’ taste. Slowly add 1 cup of milk, stirring constantly. When sauce has thickened, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with fresh basil. Pour sauce over your fresh ravioli!