A vegan ravioli filling with a creamy, vegan pasta sauce? What the heck have you done with Rachel? Here's the deal: for not being Italian, I have serious thighs. For not being a vegetarian, I have a good instinct for making something meatless and majestic. On the spectrum of “I never eat meat” to “I never eat vegetables” I fall in the happy medium of “me wuvs evvybody.” I've seldom met a vegetable I didn't like (okay, beets do taste like blood in my opinion) and I'm an adventurous meat-eater, having willingly tasted kangaroo jerky and fillet of shark among the more normal varieties. But sometimes to exercise the fact that I definitely can go meat-free and dairy-free if I wanted to, I'll play around with a vegetarian recipe. When looking for gluten-free baking flours at the store, I came across a bag of semolina – an extremely high gluten-content flour used in making pasta – and the idea for a vegetarian ravioli with creamy, dairy-free sauce was born. That night I babysat a roasting butternut squash while watching a romantic drama and the following day, my short-lived career as a ravioli maker launched.
When it comes to making pasta by hand, I'm a novice: I don't have some weird pasta instinct and I definitely don't own a pasta roller. Armed with a heavy marble rolling pin and a determined spirit, I mixed up a batch of homemade pasta dough using this recipe from Food & Wine and set to work. It was a blast. I rolled out the dough till I could see the pattern of my granite counter-top through it, then plopped adorable little teaspoons of the filling onto the rectangles and folded them up. Unfortunately, the pasta (when cooked) still turned out too thick for my tastes so I would recommend buying fresh lasagna sheets and using those instead (you can find this at specialty food stores like Whole Foods or Wegman's) unless you have a pasta roller and/or prefer your pasta thick and chunky! Despite the fact that I'm no Italian grandmother when it comes to pasta-making, the filling and the dairy-free cashew cream tasted divine and I'd happily suffer the thick pasta edges again just to experience those pockets of intense, creamy flavor.
I love my dairy. You know I love my dairy. I could happily give over every other kind of dessert for eternity as long as I could still have the occasional ice cream cone. A party is, in my mind, made up a couple of friends and plenty of cheese and a vehicle for eating said cheese (fruit, crackers, toast, popcorn, etc.) So when I say that the raw cashew cream (based off this recipe from Pinch of Yum) was as good as an Alfredo sauce, I'm committing big-time. You can trust the girl who firmly believes a person has to understand macaroni and cheese on a heart-level to make a good one. And though it looks a little suspect to the under-initiated, you'll just have to trust me. I swear on the honor of a really good gouda that cashew cream is delicious.
Butternut Squash Ravioli
- ravioli filling -
1 Tablespoon butter
2 Tablespoons green onions, chopped
1 cup roasted butternut squash puree (about 1/2 of a butternut squash)
Salt (to taste)
2 large cloves roasted garlic
dash of ground allspice
1/2 cup soaked raw cashews
1/8 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)
1 recipe ravioli dough or store-bought lasagna sheets
fresh parsley chopped for garnish
-cashew cream "alfredo" sauce -
1 cup cashews (soaked in water for 2 hours)
3/4 cups water, plus more for soaking
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- Melt butter over medium heat and briefly saute green onions till tender. In a food processor pulse squash, green onions, salt, pepper, roasted garlic, allspice, cashews, and parmesan (if using) till mixed.
- Roll out pasta dough (or lay out lasagna sheets) on a counter-top dusted with semolina flour. Every two inches drop a heaping teaspoon of filling, then fold dough overtop and seal edges with water. Slice apart with a pizza cutter and crimp edges with a fork.
- Cook fresh ravioli in gently simmering water until al dente. Meanwhile, blend the ingredients for the cashew sauce in a blender until smooth and creamy. When ravioli is cooked through, serve and top immediately with cashew cream. The hot ravioli will warm the cashew cream to the perfect temperature. Garnish with parsley and enjoy!