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Yes, people have vastly differing opinions on the awesomeness of everything pumpkin.

And yes, those of us who immerse ourselves in the goodness of the gourd this time of year are often seen as just a bit off balance.

But pumpkin is a blank slate when it comes to cooking, and the vegetable -- whether pureed in a can (100 percent pure solid pack pumpkin) or cooked from scratch, can be and should be so much more than pie filling.

At the little homestead, I began stashing away pumpkin coffee and pumpkin creamer and pumpkin candles and pumpkin air freshener long before our endless summer had begun to wane. Apparently, I'm not the only Pumpkin Everything girl around, and there never seems to be enough to last until the day after Thanskgiving, when all will be replaced by the December favorite, peppermint.

The easiest way to win your office pumpkin cooking contest is to add a can of pumpkin puree to a standard chili recipe in place of some of the tomato base. It gives it an earthy depth of flavor that has led to a contest win more than once.

So here is a recipe that may seem a little more complex than most Cookin' with Sal's. But if you follow each simple step by step, it takes some time but is not difficult.

These next couple of weekends, with late kickoff times for the Pokes and bye weeks in the NFL, are the perfect time to dig into the kitchen.

Here's to Pumpkin Everything! Long may it reign!


Savory Pumpkin Ravioli

  • 2-1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Filling:

  • 1 small pie pumpkin (about 2-1/4 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 teaspoons chopped shallot
  • 1/3 cup butter, cubed
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
  • 3/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Sauce:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh sage

Place 2-1/2 cups flour in a large bowl; make a well in the center. Beat eggs and oil; pour into well. Stir together, forming a ball. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes, adding remaining flour if necessary to keep dough from sticking. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute pumpkin and shallot in butter until tender. Add the sage, thyme, salt and pepper. Transfer to a food processor; cover and process until blended. Return to the pan; stir in the cream and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat; simmer, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until thickened. Discard bay leaf.

Divide pasta dough into fourths; roll one portion to 1/16-inch thickness. (Keep remaining dough covered until ready to use.) Working quickly, place rounded teaspoonfuls of filling 1 inch apart over half of pasta sheet. Brush around filling with egg. Fold sheet over; press down to seal. Cut into squares with a pastry wheel. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

Bring a stockpot of salted water to a boil. Add ravioli. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer; cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until the ravioli float to the top and are tender. Drain and keep warm..

In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil; cook, uncovered, until reduced by half. Stir in butter and sage. Serve with the ravioli. Serves 6. Preparation: 2 hours. Cook: 10 minutes.

Note: Butternut squash may be substituted for pumpkin.

(Recipe courtesy of "Best Loved Recipes," Taste of Home)

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