As the last few months of winter’s hardiest ingredients finally give way to spring, what could be more inviting than a generous helping of homemade pasta, rich with egg yolks and amber hued squash? The wonderful Giovanna – whom many of you have met in Tuscany – has kindly shared her recipe for a firm favourite with us.

Semola (more finely ground than semolina) and corn-fed chicken eggs are the secret of golden pasta. If you can’t find semola, opt for 00 pasta flour made from durum wheat. And, if you’re making these in advance, you’ll need semolina too.

 

Serves 4:

400g fine semola (‘semola rimancinata’)

4 medium sized, free range eggs

Sea salt flakes

1 large butternut or spaghetti squash

Olive oil

1 tsp dried oregano

50g unsalted butter

Small handful of fresh sage

Freshly ground black pepper

Ravioli cutter, or sharp knife

 

Pour the semola into a large bowl or straight onto a work surface. Make a well in the middle and break in the eggs, adding a large pinch of salt. Using a fork, start whisking the eggs and gradually drawing in the semola.

Once the ingredients have come together, begin to knead the dough with your hands, folding it over, turning and repeating. Continue to knead for at least 10 minutes or until dough become smooth and elastic, then return to the bowl and cover with a plate or damp tea towel and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

In the meantime, heat the oven to 180C. Peel the squash, scrape out and discard the seeds, then dice into rough, evenly sized pieces.  Place the squash onto a baking tray, sprinkle generously with olive oil, salt and dried oregano and set to roast in the hot oven. Once the squash is cooked through, use a fork (or blender) to mash to a smooth paste.

Remove the pasta dough from the fridge. Use a pasta roller or rolling pin to roll the dough until it is thin enough to be translucent. If using a pasta roller, this is best done by diving the dough in half and putting it through the rollers on their widest setting a couple of times, then gradually rolling it thinner and thinner, before starting afresh on the remaining hald. Keep the resting dough covered lightly with a damp tea towel.

Place heaped teaspoons of the roasted squash about 2cm from the edge of each pasta sheet at 3cm intervals.  Once you have finished the length of the sheet, wet your finger and use it to dampen the bottom edge of the pasta sheet and between the spoonfuls of squash. Fold the sheet lengthwise over the squash and gently press it down around the edges and between each spoonful to create little parcels. Use a ravioli cutter to shear the bottom edge from the pasta sheet, then cut in straight lines to divide the parcels into ravioli.

If you’re making these in advance, pour a very generous amount of semolina into a large, shallow tupperware and nestle each ravioli into it, making sure they don’t touch. Scatter over a little more semolina, cover and keep in the fridge. Shake off excess semolina when you’re ready to cook.

Fill a large pan with water and bring to boil. Whilst you’re waiting, set a serving dish to warm and, in a separate, small pan, melt the butter together with the sage leaves.

Once the water is boiling, add a couple of teaspoons of salt. Gently drop the ravioli into the water and cook for a minute until they rise to the surface. Use a slotted spoon to quickly transfer them to the warm serving dish, stir over the butter and sage and a little freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately.

 

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