Our first winter CSA share was potatoes, potatoes, potatoes. Ok, there were plenty of other things too, but I'm not kidding about the potatoes: russet, fingerling and sweet. What to do with such autumnal bounty? Something rich and warming, perhaps? Something a little sweet, with a hint of spice?
There is one moment I always remember when I think of sweet potato ravioli: Greg and I had spent several stressful days looking at possible wedding venues, during what should have been a happy family visit to California. Every place we went to was too expensive, too difficult to get to, and, frankly, too ugly— there was the place next to the train tracks ("Don't worry, it doesn't come by that oftHOOOONNKKKHOONKrattlerattlerattle...."), the one with the twenty-minute hike in from the parking lot, the hotel with the $100 a head appetizer station, and the hall with the 7' acoustic tile ceiling. We were increasingly faced with the possibility that we would end up getting married in an abandoned warehouse.
We dragged ourselves to beautiful downtown Santa Barbara, trying to take a break, but tiredness, hunger and stress left us blind to the charming scenery around us, and to each other. We stumbled into a restaurant, where I ordered the sweet potato ravioli with browned butter and sage. Everything else at the restaurant was completely unremarkable, mediocre even, but the fact is that those ravioli saved my life. With the hint of nutmeg, a whisper of garlic, and whole fried sage leaves... they retrieved my humanity from the pits of bridal despair, and let me remember why we were working so hard on this event.
I still think about those ravioli pretty regularly, so it was a natural choice to make them with my CSA sweet potato jackpot. My ravioli were not exactly beautiful, but were they ever delicious! They were only missing the garlic, and next time I make them, I'll certainly include it.
Sweet Potato Ravioli with Browned Butter
- Adapted from Epicurious.
- About 2 cups of cooked sweet potato, skins removed
- 2-3 Tablespoons of brown sugar
- A healthy sprinkling of ground nutmeg (I think I used a little more than the 1/4 teaspoon that Epicurious calls for.)
- A pinch of Chinese five spice mix
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- A pinch of dried sage, or a few fresh sage leaves
- Two batches of homemade pasta, or about 1 1/2 lbs of fresh pasta sheets
Mash the sweet potatoes, sugar, nutmeg, five spice mix, and salt and pepper together until relatively smooth.
Roll or cut your pasta into strips about 3-4 inches wide. Keep the unused pasta dough covered so it stays moist. Place lumps of ravioli filling spaced out along one side of the strip of dough, then fold the other half of the dough over, and press gently to seal. You may need a little water or egg to seal storebought fresh pasta. Cut the ravioli apart with a ravioli or pizza cutter. As you set the finished ravioli aside, DO NOT stack them, as they will stick together. And yes, I learned this the hard way.
Cook the ravioli in a very large pot of very salty water — it should take just a few minutes. While they cook, heat the butter, swirling it occasionally. When it bubbles up, add the sage, and continue swirling the butter as the sage crisps and the butter turns a nice golden brown. Toss the drained ravioli together with the browned butter sauce and enjoy!