Chef Bonnie Moore's rendition of this popular fall dish takes on a gentle sweetness when amaretto cookie crumbs are used in the filling instead of plain bread crumbs. She likes to use Oak Spring Farms (Upperville) asiago cheese in the mix, along with lamb sausage from New Asbury Farm (Leesburg).
Any kind of winter squash can be used instead of sweet potato. This preparation calls for a pasta roller attachment on a KitchenAid mixer, a bench scraper and a 2-to-3-inch round cookie cutter. Although sheets of fresh pasta are easy to make, you can use store-bought sheets, preferably freshly made, from Italian markets.
Make Ahead: The pasta dough needs to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes or in the refrigerator for up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before rolling. The filling can be made a few days in advance and refrigerated. The filled raviolis can be refrigerated for up to a day.
- For the filling
- 1 small (8 ounces) sweet potato (may substitute 1/2 small winter squash)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons plain panko bread crumbs (may substitute amaretto cookie crumbs)
- 1 large egg yolk
- 3/4 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese
- 1/2 cup mascarpone
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- For the pasta
- About 2 cups flour, plus more for the work surface
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
- Cornmeal, for dusting
- For the sauce
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 12 ounces lamb sausage, casings removed
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 12 small sage leaves
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped pine nuts, toasted, for garnish (see NOTE)
For the filling: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the sweet potato on a baking sheet, then drizzle the sweet potato with the oil. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, until tender. Cut in half lengthwise so the flesh will cool. The yield should be about 1 cup.
Scoop the flesh into a mixing bowl, then add the crumbs, egg yolk, asiago, mascarpone and parsley. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste, keeping in mind that the mixture needs to be a little on the salty side, so the flavor remains vibrant after the ravioli are cooked. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the pasta: Mound the flour on a work surface, making a large well at the center. Add 2 of the eggs, the oil and a good pinch or two of salt. Use a fork to blend those three ingredients, gradually working in the flour wall. Use your hand and the bench scraper to bring the dough together as it forms. It should not be sticky and should have a slight resistance. Wrap it in plastic wrap; let it rest at room temperature for 15 minutes, or refrigerate it for up to a day.
Dust a large rimmed baking sheet with cornmeal. Lightly dust a work surface with flour.
Set the pasta roller attachment on a stand mixer at the widest roller setting. Unwrap the dough. Working quickly to keep the dough from drying out, and with the motor on low, pass the dough through once, guiding it away from, rather than straight down toward, the counter. Fold one long end toward the center, then fold the other end on top of the first, so that you've created a threefold thickness.
Pass the dough through the roller attachment once, guiding it away rather than down. Narrow the setting by one notch. Fold the dough in the same fashion, then pass it through again; repeat the setting adjustment, folding and rolling one more time. You should have a long sheet of dough that's just translucent enough so you can see light/the shadow of your hand through it. The pasta sheet should be wide enough to accommodate 2 rows of ravioli.
Cut the dough evenly in half to form 2 sheets, laying one sheet on the floured work surface. Ideally, the second sheet of dough should be slightly wider than the first.
Whisk together the remaining egg and a pinch of salt, then brush the surface of the pasta sheet with it. Drop the sweet potato mixture onto the pasta in 1 1/2-teaspoon amounts, spacing them about 1 1/2 inches apart and creating 2 rows on the one sheet. Top with the remaining pasta sheet. Use your fingertips to press and seal around the pods of filling. Use the cookie cutter to form the raviolis, transferring them to the cornmeal-dusted baking sheet as you work. Refrigerate until ready to use. Discard any scraps.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add a generous pinch of salt.
Meanwhile, make the sauce: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage in bite-size pinches; cook until it is browned and no trace of pink remains.
Add the butter; once it begins to foam, add the sage leaves. Cook until the butter begins to turn golden brown, watching closely to avoid burning it. Immediately remove the skillet from the heat.
Working in batches of 6 or so (to avoid crowding the pot), add the ravioli to the boiling water. Cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes; they will float to the top. Use a slotted spoon to drain, then transfer the ravioli to the skillet. Gently toss to coat in the sauce.
Divide among individual plates; garnish with the chopped pine nuts. Serve warm.
NOTE: Toast the pine nuts in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat, shaking the pan to keep them from scorching, until lightly browned and fragrant. Cool completely before chopping.
Adapted from Willowsford Culinary Director Bonnie Moore.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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