The ABC's of Cooking with Lynn Fredericks
author of Cooking Time Is Family Time

D  is for Dumpling
Homemade Pumpkin Ravioli with Parmesan and Amaretti di Saronno

Yield: 6 servings

This delectable recipe is a festive Christmas specialty of Northern Italy. The rich ravioli make an ideal first course, followed by a wonderful meat main course with a salad. Because of pumpkin's inherent sweetness, it's always a big hit with kids. Pumpkin also offers mega doses of Vitamin A and substantial phosphorus and potassium. You and your children can make your own puree by following the directions for a butternut squash puree. There's one described in the Butternut Soup recipe in my book. (Replace the stock with the same amount of water.) When you puree, use less cooking liquid so it will be very thick, not runny. You can freeze it in plastic bags/containers in 1 cup portions, and use as needed in various recipes throughout the winter.

For the ravioli filling:

  • 3 cups canned or fresh pumpkin puree
  • 4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (brick or pre-grated)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • Dash of kosher salt to taste

To fill the ravioli:
  • 1-2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 package wonton wrappers or use the recipe for ravioli dough
  • cornmeal or cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For the topping:

6 amaretti cookies, crushed (optional)
More freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

Equipment: rolling pin or mortar and pestle, cookie cutters (optional)

To make the filling:

1. In a medium saucepan, warm up the pumpkin puree over medium heat. Add the butter and stir until melted. While the puree is heating, older children can grate the Parmesan cheese if not using pre-grated. Blend in the cheese to the warm puree, stirring with a wooden spoon until it is melted and evenly distributed. Everyone should get a chance to stir. Remove from the heat, and stir in the heavy cream, mixing thoroughly.

2. Have the children open the cardamom pods and crush the seeds in a mortar and pestle or with a rolling pin on a cutting board. Let them gather the seeds and stir into the pumpkin puree mixture. Set mixture aside to cool.

To fill and cook the ravioli:

(Note: fresh pasta, including wonton dough, dries out quickly so you will want to have your choice of filling ready at this time to fill them.)

1. Unwrap the wonton wrappers and remove about eight sheets. Cover the remaining squares with a cloth and reserve. Have your children select a pastry cutter or cookie cutter about 3 to 4 inches in diameter. Cut out the desired ravioli shapes. Place them on a cookie sheet in pairs, and cover with a towel. The wonton skins are now ready to be filled.

2. Sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal or cornstarch and set aside. If you are using the amaretti cookies, have children crush them by placing the unwrapped cookies in a towel, covering them and crushing them with a rolling pin. Now let the kids use a pastry brush and "paint" a line of beaten egg, egg wash "glue," on the edges of the ravioli. Using a spoon place just enough filling into the center of one piece of cut out dough, leaving a one-half inch margin along the sides. Press an identically shaped ravioli over the one with filling and egg wash.

3. Show the children how to carefully pinch the two pieces of dough together, making sure the filling does not ooze out. A fork can also be used to crimp the ends closed, this is easier for most small children. Place the finished raviolis under a towel on the prepared baking sheet, keeping them separate so they do not stick together.

4. Add the olive oil to a pot of boiling water and, using a slotted spoon, carefully place the ravioli in the pot. After a few minutes, very carefully remove one with a slotted spoon and test for doneness. They're done when the pasta is still slightly chewy--don't cook too long or they will fall apart! Serve with more butter and Parmesan and sprinkle the crushed amaretti cookies over the top as a crowning touch for a delectable sweet/salty effect.


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