Pumpkin ravioli

Two Fridays ago, with no transition at all, fall began in New York City. By the next Monday, the autumn smell was undeniable. Hooray! 

Fall is my favorite time of the year (besides Christmas of course). I love the crisp, mild weather, the sweater and boot attire, and, most obviously, the food. Rich, warm flavors, often involving lots of butter. The kind of food that you just associate to good memories. Think Thanksgiving.

Anywho, when I began to sense autumn’s presence, my thoughts naturally drifted to none other but pumpkin. I’m certainly not onto to something new, as evident with Starbucks pumpkin latte phenomenon. In fact, my friends just made delicious pumpkin whoopie pies this past weekend. I am, I suppose, a big cooking-with-pumpkin proponent. There are lots of recipes I have in mind for this fall season, but the one I decided to try first was pumpkin ravioli. I should clarify that I did not in fact handcraft the ravioli; the main ingredient was store bought. But hey, I am coming to grips with the fact that its often more sensible and enjoyable to save time with premade ingredients.

I took the recipe from Giada: ravioli with balsamic brown butter sauce. The recipe suggests cheese, mushroom or squash ravioli. I’m still confused as to whether pumpkin is considered a type of squash, but I decided regardless that it would be delicious. And I was right. The balsamic vinegar added some pizazz to the foamy butter. I’m not sure if it sounds a bit strange to some, but with such earthy flavors from the walnuts and the cheese, the tangy hint from the vinegar is actually quite nice.

The dish was not an immediate success. Lesson learned: taste test. I didn’t use exact measurements, and I served myself before trying the sauce. Mistake. I had to add more cheese and more salt. While in most cases you have to be careful not to make a dish taste salty, salt is very important to enhance and highlight different flavors. Do not underestimate its power. (Example: every Food Network star will tell you to be generous in adding salt to cook pasta)

Giada knows her stuff. This recipe is as simple as melting butter and grating cheese, and is a perfect after-work meal. I enjoyed this dinner with a nice cold beer and the season premiere of Glee. It was a day when all I could think was my dad’s favorite saying: life is good.

(Photo from Food Network website)

 Ravioli with Balsamic Brown Butter
Courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis

18 to 20 oz store-bought ravioli (cheese, mushroom, or squash)
6 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/3 c toasted, chopped walnuts *
1/4 c grated Parmesan

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the ravioli and cook 4 to 5 minutes, until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain ravioli onto a large serving platter.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan cook the butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When the foam subsides, and the butter begins to turn a golden brown, about 3 minutes, turn off the heat. Let cool for about 1 minute. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

Transfer the ravioli to the saucepan with the balsamic brown butter. Sprinkle walnuts and Parmesan over the top. Serve immediately.

* To toast the walnuts, you can heat them in a skillet over medium-heat for 3-4 minutes. The walnuts have plenty of natural oils, so no need to add anything else. Stir often and heat until they become fragrant.