The lune

Butternut squash lune pasta!

I purchased a pasta roller last week, an attachment to my kitchenaid mixer that I’ve been eyeing for quite some time. I’ve also been hesitating for quite some time, because it’s an expensive accessory for a food (pasta) that I don’t eat very often, and pasta is a food that I generally try to avoid (I’m watching my weight though admittedly, I generally watch my weight in a very passive manner–as I just recently watched myself gain two pounds…okay, enough of that weight digression).

Despite the odds, I purchased a pasta roller in a moment of self indulgence. And I used it.

Instead of tackling something entirely new for Muffin Top, I decided to use a recipe in our archives–that of Mario Batali’s Pumpkin Lune with Butter and Sage, using The French Laundry’s recipe for pasta dough (minus one egg, because I only had six eggs on hand). Given that this was my first time making pasta dough from scratch, I thought I would use Connie’s directions as a spiritual guide.

homemade butternut squash lune pasta (ravioli) in process

As Connie suggested, I started making the pasta dough in a large mixing bowl (what a great suggestion) and aside from keeping my marble clear from broken yolk, it actually helped keep the flour well intact. I was surprised at how simple pasta is to make, and silently vowed to make pasta more often.

But it’s a bit of work–especially that kneading part! The French Laundry recipe says to knead the pasta dough for a minimum of 15 minutes (and then to knead it an additional 10 minutes). So I was kneading for nearly 30 minutes, in fear of “pasta collapse,” according to directions:

Even if you think you are finished kneading, knead it for an extra ten minutes; you cannot overknead this dough. It is important to work the dough long enough to pass the pull test; otherwise, when it rests, it will collapse.

Whatever pasta collapse is, it sounded terrifying. So I kneaded. Vigorously. For half an hour. By the end, I wasn’t exactly sweating, but I was definitely feeling warm. A good way to burn off calories for the imminent pasta fest. While the pasta dough rested, I focused on the filling. The pasta dough is supposed to rest for between 30 minutes to one hour, so you’ll want to work accordingly.

I’d roasted a small butternut squash the night before. Yes, I used butternut squash because that’s what I prefer…and you’ll definitely want to do the roasting beforehand if you want the timeline to work well. The squash took about an hour to roast–Mario Batali’s recipe states half that time, but my squash, like Connie’s, was not anywhere near soft at that point. Plus, you’ll need cooling time for the filling.

If you’ve roasted your squash/pumpkin the night before (or before making the pasta) the filling is a quick step: it’s simply combining ingredients and mixing/mashing them together.

Rolling out the pasta was a fun matter–kind of like craft class for me, really! Though I rolled the pasta out to the appropriate thinness for ravioli, according to my pasta roller’s directions (notch “5”), I think I will roll them out thinner in the future. It was still very satisfactory, and the thicker pasta gave the lune a rustic mien.

Filling and making the ravioli reminded me of my childhood. No, I’m not Italian, but I am Korean, and the round pasta, with filling, and the process of sealing the edges in reminded me of making mandu or mandoo with my mother. Though Batali’s recipe says to just seal the edges, I was a bit dubious…so I used little dabs of water on the edges before sealing and pinching the lune shut. (Be sure to not leave ANY air inside the pasta–otherwise they will pop open while being boiled!) The water seal was a great reassurance to me–and none of my lune popped–the result was good enough for me.

homemade butternut squash lune pasta (ravioli)

In the end, I had a very good little stack of lune. I was disappointed by the fact that all of the pasta rolling work had resulted in only fourteen ravioli (though they were sizable). I had hoped to have enough to freeze for another meal, or enough to give to a friend. But nope. So you’ll want to double the French Laundry pasta dough recipe to match it to the Batali (or likewise, halve the Batali filling recipe).

The hardest part was done–I followed the recipe for the butter and sage–yes, the lune splatters as it enters the hot butter as Connie says (so watch out). And I did leave the amaretti cookie out because I didn’t have an amaretti cookie.

Oh, and like Connie, I didn’t throw away the pasta scraps–I saved them to eat a rustic pasta meal a couple nights later.

Enjoy–thank you Connie and Batali and Keller, for the inspiration, and for initiating me to pasta making!

Recipes follow after the jump…

Mario Batali’s PUMPKIN LUNE WITH BUTTER AND SAGE
Makes 35-40 lunes Serves 4

Traditional to Mantova, these lune (little moons) often have crushed amaretti cookies inside the filling. We like to grate an oversized cookie over the top in addition to the cheese.

1 small pumpkin, or butternut, or acorn squash (about 1 pound)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ recipe basic pasta dough
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
8 fresh sage leaves
1 large amaretti cookie

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350 °F

(I DID THE ROASTING THE NIGHT BEFORE): Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds, drizzle with the olive oil, and place on a baking sheet. Roast for 25-35, or until the squash is very soft. Remove from the oven, let cool, the scoop the flesh from the skin.

In a large bowl, combine the cooled squash, cheese, nutmeg, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper. Stir well to combine.

Roll out the pasta dough to the thinnest setting on a pasta machine. Using a biscuit cutter or water glass, cut out 2-inch circles. Pipe or carefully spoon a rounded tablespoon of filling onto the center of half of the rounds and cover the filling with a second pasta round. Press the edges together firmly to seal.

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt. Drop the lune in the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a 12- to 14- inch sauté pan until it foams and subsides. Add 2 to 4 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water and whisk to emulsify. Drain the pasta and add it to the butter. Add the sage leaves and toss gently for 1 minute over medium heat to coat the pasta with sauce. Divide the lune among four warmed plates, grate the Parmigiano-Reggiano and amaretti over each plate, and serve immediately.

****

PASTA DOUGH
From The French Laundry Cookbook
Thomas Keller

Servings: Makes about 14 ounces dough (DOUBLE, if you are going to use for Batali’s lune recipe)

Ingredients
1 3/4 cups (8 ounces) all-purpose flour
6 large egg yolks
1 large egg (I excluded this egg because I didn’t have a 7th egg–and the pasta still turned out wonderful)
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon milk

Preparation
Mound the flour on a board or other surface and create a well in the center, pushing the flour to all sides to make a ring with sides about 1 inch wide. Make sure that the well is wide enough to hold all the eggs without spilling.

Pour the egg yolks, egg, oil, and milk into the well. Use your fingers to break the eggs up. Still using your fingers, begin turning the eggs in a circular motion, keeping them within the well and not allowing them to spill over the sides. This circular motion allows the eggs to gradually pull in flour from the sides of the well; it is important that the flour not be incorporated too rapidly, or your dough will be lumpy. Keep moving the eggs while slowly incorporating the flour. Using a pastry scraper, occasionally push the flour toward the eggs; the flour should be moved only enough to maintain the gradual incorporation of the flour, and the eggs should continue to be contained within the well. The mixture will thicken and eventually get too tight to keep turning with your fingers.

When the dough begins thickening and starts lifting itself from the board, begin incorporating the remaining flour with the pastry scraper by lifting the flour up and over the dough that’s beginning to form and cutting it into the dough. When the remaining flour from the sides of the well has been cut into the dough, the dough will still look shaggy. Bring the dough together with the palms of your hands and form it into a ball. It will look flaky but will hold together.

Knead the dough by pressing it, bit by bit, in a forward motion with the heels of your hands rather than folding it over on itself as you would with a bread dough. Re-form the dough into a ball and repeat the process several times. The dough should feel moist but not sticky. Let the dough rest for a few minutes while you clean the work surface.

Dust the clean work surface with a little flour. Knead the dough by pushing against it in a forward motion with the heels of your hands. Form the dough into a ball again and knead it again. Keep kneading in this forward motion until the dough becomes silky-smooth. The dough is ready when you can pull your finger through it and the dough wants to snap back into place. The kneading process can take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes. Even if you think you are finished kneading, knead it for an extra ten minutes; you cannot overknead this dough. It is important to work the dough long enough to pass the pull test; otherwise, when it rests, it will collapse.

Double-wrap the dough in plastic wrap to ensure that it does not dry out. Let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour before rolling it through a pasta machine. The dough can be made a day ahead, wrapped and refrigerated; bring to room temperature before proceeding.

7 responses to “The lune

  1. Wow! They look great! I made something quite similar – and I’ve actually tasted the sweet potato version at Babbo (http://flickr.com/photos/virtualzen/253702698/) (Sebas ordered it when we were there for my birthday last year). Trust me, you’re not missing anything with the tiny bit of amaretti , it just adds a bit of textural contrast with bits of crunch. You could probably achieve the same thing with a bit of stale ginger cookie, frankly, and it would add an even greater depth of flavour, IMHO.

    When it comes to the kneading part, I have to admit that I’m a totally lazy bugger about it. I just dump all the ingredients into the KitchenAid with the dough hook, turn it on medium and leave it alone for 10 – 15 minutes. Trust me, if you’re making it more than once a week, you’ll appreciate it! LOL

    Love ya hon,
    E

  2. Ahh, I’m so jealous – a pasta roller has been on my ‘want’ list for sooo long, but the reason I haven’t got it yet is because I tend only to have pasta once every few months😦 Looks like a job well done for your first home-made pasta attempt🙂

  3. I am so confused! I have never heard of pasta collapse. I live in Italy, and our pasta doesn’t collapse! It also doesn’t usually get kneaded that long, either. Just until it isn’t lumpy, then rolling, folding, re-rolling at the biggest number on the roller until it’s smooth and has the texture of damp skin.

    Flour, eggs, muscles, basta! I can make fresh egg pasta and have it on the table in 12 to 15 minutes, unless it’s stuffed pasta. Obviously. Maybe it’s all that foreign stuff like milk? Oil? (One does use a bit of oil when making eggless hard wheat pasta.)

  4. OMG~~~I love your blog I ended up finding this blog while I was web searching and I love it!
    I love your foods!!!!!! and you cook everything from pasta to Korean food!(yay! Korean food) it was really amazing how u cooked pasta w/ ggatnip! wow
    I wish I was ur roommate lol

  5. Eric: you and Connie both inspired me to make pasta at home! Thank you for the amaretti insight–it makes me feel better to know it was not a crucial exclusion. And I’m going to check out the Kitchenaid mixer next time–I swear, the hubby even asked me, “How come you just don’t knead in the mixer?” Because I usually try to follow a recipe as strictly as possible when I first try it out, I was deadset on kneading by hand. Kinda cool though.

    Ellie: Thank you! They did turn out pretty well considering it was my first time–and now I’m going to make pasta a LOT more often, because it is just soooo good.

    judithgr: Thank goodness “pasta collapse” might not exist! And that I won’t have to knead so long! I think I was just being extra cautious because I didn’t want my first attempt to be disastrous…and because those were the only 6 eggs I had in the house. It was a “one try” situation. 🙂

    Inhae: thank you! the pasta with ggaenip is pretty good, isn’t it? Who woulda thunkit.

  6. Try Italian pasta. 100 gr of flour, one egg, pinch of salt. Nothing more. If I make more than 3-400 gr I do knead in the FP, because I am slightly handicapped, but there’s no limit and it works. There are pastas with no eggs and with just yolks, but the basic is just what I said.

  7. judithgr: thank you! I’m going to try that next. It sounds way more simple–and in my book, simple and straightforward food is the BEST.

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