Cuisine has seasons just as the weather does. Autumn is here and it is getting cold. There is that crispness in the air that smells of the Holidays. Our palates turn to thoughts of pumpkin pie, mulled cider, and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Is your mouth watering yet?
First, run out and buy some butternut squash raviolis (I bought some particularly pretty ones on sale from Ralph’s, but you don’t need the fancy stripes for good butternut squash ravioli. I just wanted them to make our photo super nice.) These are cheap at stores like Trader Joe’s or Fresh and Easy, but your local grocery store probably has some store-brand butternut squash pasta. While five years ago, butternut squash raviolis may have been only found in trendy restaurants, now they are easy to find in the fresh pasta section.
Butternut squash (don’t be turned off by the squash name, this is not your usual squash) is popular because it has the same flavor as pumpkin (which is also a squash,) but is much cheaper.
Secondly, while we tend to think of sauces to serve our ravioli in, a light but flavorful broth can be a delicious alternative. I don’t mean to make it a soup. You just need enough broth to flavor the ravioli and keep it tender, not so much that the raviolis float in the broth. Use half chicken or vegetable stock, and half pear or apple cider, flavored with shallots, thyme, and extra ginger. The extra ginger is the secret to add enough bite to make this dish feel savory instead of cloyingly sweet, which can happen if you use too much cider. My favorite choice is Pear Cider that can be found at Trader Joe’s, but any good cider will do. It can be found affordably in the juice aisle.
Cook the pasta, pour the broth over the top, and you have all the flavors of fall in a beautiful light (and vegetarian!) dish. Top it all with shaved parmesan, and be sure to serve bread to sop up the last of the delicious broth. Enjoy with a crisp Chardonnay (not too typically “Californian” with a lot of oak and butter flavors. Australian Chards have a lot more citrus flavors and will pair well with this meal.) If you prefer beer, pair this with a Hefewiezen.
Butternut Squash Ravioli in a Cider Broth
1 package of Butternut Squash Ravioli
3 to 4 shallots, diced
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup pear or apple cider (I like Trader Joe’s Pear Cider)
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon ginger powder (or 1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger)
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon olive oil
- Heat the olive oil in a sauce pan over medium low heat. Before it begins to smoke, add shallots and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add thym, ginger, salt and pepper halfway through.
- Add stock and cider, bring the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the broth has reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Taste as you go, and adjust the flavors until you have a savory broth with hints of cinnamon, ginger, and pear or apple.
- Meanwhile, cook the ravioli according to the directions on the package.
- Ladle steaming broth over the cooked Ravioli. Shave parmesan over the top and serve immediately with croissants or other bread.