Spiced butternut and blue cheese ravioli

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Pasta is the ultimate cosy winter comfort food.

If you love pasta, then you can’t beat the fresh variety. Homemade pasta has a bad reputation for being faffy and time-consuming, and as much as I love getting my hands stuck into a project it is the kneading that eats away the day.

This is a really simple way to knock up some delicious fresh ravioli with the help of a mixer. I thought this was the perfect project to try out my new Judge Twin Blade Stand Mixer.

I used the beaters to mix the pasta and combine the filling ingredients, and the dough hooks to take all the time out of the kneading process.

The auto-rotating bowl resulted in a beautifully blended mixture and tilting head made my life a lot easier when it came to adding ingredients.

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This recipe will take you around an hour to an hour and a half to make. It’s the forming the ravioli that can take the time, but that’s a job that the children might enjoy getting involved with.

You’ll also get a good half an hour in the middle when the pasta dough is resting (while developing all those beautiful gluten strands) and the butternut is roasting – you have my full permission to pour yourself a large glass of Malbec and relax.

Homemade ravioli freezes beautifully, so it is worth making a large batch and stocking your freezer ready for a healthy ready meal in the near future.

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Once you’ve mastered this little recipe, feel free to experiment with your own ravioli fillings. You’ll want to avoid anything too watery or thin in texture.
Butternut is great for plumping up your ravioli and it also tastes sublime, especially when combined with the delicate spices and the robust, rich, saltiness of the blue cheese.
Butternut squash is a wonderful source of vitamin A, as well as vitamin E and the B vitamins.

The seeds are also packed with nutrients and are a rich source of protein. All you need to do is roast them for 15 minutes and enjoy them as a snack or added to salads, pasta dishes or soups.

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The flour: When making pasta you ideally want to go for the softest and most finely sieved flour available which means going for 00 grade flour.
In Italy, this type of flour is referred to as tenero which also means tender or soft. It certainly results in the softest, silkiest sort of pasta.
I use Doves Farm Organic Pasta Flour which is perfect for making pasta by hand or machine. It’s milled in the UK and is a beautifully fine flour that results in perfect pasta every time.

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For the pasta:

 

300g 00 grade flour

2 whole eggs

4 yolks

salt

 

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For the filling:

 

1 butternut squash

olive oil

sea salt

ground black pepper

2 small dried chillis (roughly chopped)

6 cloves of garlic

1 red onion (cut into quarters)

1 handful of fresh thyme

1 teaspoon each of ground coriander and cumin

2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

50g blue cheese (Roquefort/gorgonzola/stilton)

 

Preheat oven to 200/gas mark 6

 

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Cut your butternut squash into quarters and place flesh side up in a baking tray.
Drizzle with a couple of generous lugs of olive oil, season well with sea salt, chilli and freshly milled pepper. Add garlic, red onion and your fresh thyme.

Roast in the oven for 45-50  minutes. In the meantime, you can get on with preparing your pasta.

Add all of the pasta ingredients to your mixing bowl and whizz everything up until thoroughly combined.

Remove the flat beater and replace it with the dough hook – knead until the dough holds an indent when touched.

Place the dough in a large bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Rest for 30 minutes on the counter.

To keep dough from drying out only use a quarter at a time, keep the rest covered until ready to use.

Spoon the soft roasted butternut into your mixing bowl along with the skinned garlic, onion, thyme and cheese. Add the spices and balsamic vinegar. Whizz up until smooth.

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Roll the first quarter of the dough out into a large rectangle, the depth of which will be twice the length of your final ravioli so don’t make it too large.

Place small mounds (1 tablespoon each) of the filling mixture onto the lower half of the pasta sheet.
They should be around 2 inches apart, with space around them to seal each individual raviolo.

Draw a square around each mound of filling, using a clean finger or pastry brush.
Fold the top half of the pasta sheet over to cover the mounds and gently press both sides of the pasta together until it sticks nicely.

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Use a sharp knife to divide the ravioli. If you prefer you can use a decorative cutter or a specific ravioli cutter for a more interesting finish.
If you are using a knife, it might be an idea to press the raw edges with a fork to reinforce the seal.

Keep the new batch of ravioli covered with a damp cloth to prevent them from drying out while you shape the others.

Once all of the ravioli has been formed you are ready to cook them.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Cook for 3 minutes (until ravioli floats).

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The flavour in the filling is enough so you won’t need any sauce. I adore steaming pasta served with creamy, melted butter and freshly milled black pepper. This is the only adornment that this delicious dish needs.

So there you have it! The ultimate comfort food. A delicious hearty family meal that is packed with nutrients, brimming with flavour and is very simple to make.

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