For the last several weeks, our CSA share has included six sweet potatoes. Now, we love sweet potatoes, and they keep well but not indefinitely, so we’ve been trying to think of a dish that would could use up a bunch all in one whack. In fact, we thought that no matter what we made, we’d just roast up all the sweet potatoes that we have on hand (about a dozen), knowing that we’d have no problem eating sweet potatoes that are already cooked — can you say sweet potato quesidillas?
But, that isn’t the topic of this post. So, instead of getting distracted, let’s start by scratching up some ravioli.
The idea for this particular recipe comes from The French Laundry Cookbook, by Thomas Keller. His recipe was more involved than what we wanted to make for dinner, but we took some of the ideas and went to town. We’re sure that his version would be better, but we will have to say (in advance) that ours is pretty good, too.
We used fresh goat cheese because we had it on hand; ricotta will work admirably, too, so don’t let the lack of the exact ingredient stop you. Similarly, if you don’t have sweet potatoes, butternut squash would be a great substitute. Of course, you’ll need fresh pasta — there’s no way around that for scratched ravioli — and we will say that a pasta machine will make short work of the rolling of the dough, but we used a rolling pin for years, and even an empty wine bottle when we were traveling.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Rub potatoes in butter. Oh, just use your hands, they’ll wash. Pick up that half teaspoon of butter and rub it over the sweet potatoes until coated. Wash hands and wrap potatoes securely in foil. You can wrap them individually, or in groups of two or three; it won’t matter.
Bake. Slide the potatoes into the oven and bake until very soft. Very soft. About an hour to 75 minutes. You want them soft so you can mash the potatoes easily to make the filling. Once baked, let the potatoes cool until you can handle them easily.
Peel. Since the potatoes are very soft, the skins will pretty much slip right off. Once peeled, place them in a medium-sized bowl and give them a quick mashing.
Add cheese and spices. Stir in the cheese, pepper, sage, and salt. Once the mixture is uniform, give it a taste and adjust seasoning as needed. If, for some reason, your mixture is not like a paste, you can add bread crumbs to thicken it up a bit, but they shouldn’t be needed. Set the filling aside.
Roll dough. Work with about an eighth of the dough at a time and roll out to a rectangle about 4 inches wide by 16 inches long. You want it fairly thin; not quite thin enough to see your hand through or it’ll tear while cooking, but around 1/16th of an inch.
Dollop. Use a teaspoon to place dollops of filling about an inch apart on the sheet of dough. Keep them to one side, with a bit of edging around so you can seal the pasta.
Fold and cut. Fold the dough over the dollops of filling and press out the air as best you can. If the dough is too dry to stick together, run a wet finger along the edges. Cut into square ravioli. Place on a rack covered in a clean towel to dry for a bit. Repeat with remaining dough. If you have scraps of dough left over, make several “noodles” the same thickness as the edges of the ravioli. Boil these up along with the ravioli and use them for testing doneness.
Boil. Bring a large kettle of salted water to a boil. Add ravioli, about a dozen at a time, and simmer until they’re are done to your liking. This will vary depending on the thickness and how long the ravioli have dried, so test periodically.
While we didn’t write up a sauce to go with these, we’ll tell you that we made a simple sauce from heavy cream, salt, and pepper to pour over the top, sprinkled with grated Parmesan and chervil, and called it a meal. What a meal – the sweet potato and goat cheese make for a very rich-tasting ravioli, almost a bit too rich, especially with the cream, but super tasty. The amount of sage was perfect, making the filling nicely balanced between savory and the slight sweetness of the potatoes, and the goat cheese added just the slightest tangyness — which would have been missing if we’d used ricotta — to round out the flavors. We think that we did a pretty good job and will give these sweet potato ravioli five stars.