Butternut Squash Tortellini
Sage-Brown Butter Sauce and Toasted Walnuts
(Serves 2 plus enough to freeze)
This dish is relatively quick and simple to prepare if you have a few deft hands in the
kitchen to help with stuffing. The preparation can be made even simpler if you buy
ready-made sheets of fresh pasta from a local pasta shop. When we make this dish, we
always prepare enough to freeze for another Sunday Supper. The
sweet butternut squash accented with nutmeg and almond
extract and bathed in a sage-brown butter sauce is the true spirit of fall.
Prepare the Butternut Squash Stuffing:
- Cut a 1½ lb. squash in half, lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
- Lightly oil the cut faces and put each piece cut-side down on a flat baking sheet lined
with parchment paper (don't use aluminum foil -- it will discolor the cut surfaces).
- Bake a in 350° oven for 1¼ hours.
- Remove from the oven and flip the pieces cut-face up to cool. When the squash is cool
enough to handle, remove the outer skin, using a sharp paring knife.
- Cut the squash into pieces and put them into a food processor. Add a generous amount of
freshly grated nutmeg, about ¼ tsp of almond extract, freshly ground white pepper, a dash
of salt and a whole egg.
- Process this mixture until the squash is evenly pureed. Taste to adjust the seasonings
and set aside until ready to use.
Making the Pasta Dough:
(If you are using ready-made fresh pasta sheets, skip this step.)
1½ cups flour
2 whole eggs
2 tsp milk
- Mix the milk with the eggs and incorporate that mixture into the flour. If the dough is
too sticky to handle, add a few more TBS of flour.
- Knead the dough until it's a uniform texture and forms a ball.
- Using your pasta machine or rolling pin, roll the dough into sheets until it is very
thin. (I used the 2.5 setting on my pasta machine, on a scale of 6.)
Cutting and Stuffing:
- Because the dough will be rolled very thin, it will dry out quickly and the edges will
become difficult to seal securely. So roll and cut the dough only at the moment you're
ready to stuff it. Once stuffed, drying of the dough is not a problem.
- You can cut your pasta sheets into any shape that you prefer. The traditional Italian
- If you are making cappelleti or tortellini using, put about 1 tsp of the butternut
squash stuffing on half the pasta piece. Fold the remaining section over the stuffing,
seal the edges and link the tapered ends together to form a "little hat".
- If you are making tortelloni, cut two squares pasta of the same size. Place the stuffing
on one square and place the second pasta square on top, sealing the edges.
- Place the stuffed pieces on a baking sheet lined with wax paper until ready to cook or
- Cook in boiling water for 3-4 minutes and drain. Add 1 tsp of olive oil to the cooking
water to keep the tortellini from sticking together.
Brown Butter Sauce and Toasted Walnuts:
While the tortellini are cooking and draining, prepare the sauce:
- Over a high flame, reduce 1 cup of chicken stock to about 4 TBS.
- In a separate pan, cook about 3 TBS butter until it turns a nutty brown. Add a generous
amount of tender, fresh sage leaves to the hot butter and remove from the heat. Let the
sage leaves sizzle in the butter until they turn crispy then add the reduced stock. (We
leave the sage leaves in the butter and eat them as part of the sauce because we prefer a
stronger sage flavor. If you prefer a milder flavor, you should remove them at this
- Toast a handful of walnuts and chop. Set aside.
- For an individual serving, place 10 cooked tortellini in a warm bouillabaisse bowl and
drizzle with 2-3 TBS sage brown butter sauce. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts and serve
- Freezing: Arrange the uncooked, stuffed
tortellini on a flat baking sheet lined with wax paper and set the baking sheet in the
freezer until the tortellini are thoroughly frozen. Remove the frozen pieces to plastic
freezer container. Using this technique, the tortellini will not stick together in a
frozen mass and will be easy to cook directly from the freezer.
- Butternut Squash: I prefer to use
butternut squash in this dish because it's dense and not watery. It makes a very
good-textured stuffing. If you use other types of squash or pumpkin, you may need to
extract their excess juice by squeezing the pieces in a cheesecloth after baking.
Butternut squash has a natural sweetness, which we prefer to tone down with picante
seasonings such as nutmeg and almond extract. We were also thinking of adding a dash of
gin (particularly for its juniper berry flavor), but we haven't tried that yet. If you try
it, let me know.
- Cappelletti and tortellini:
3" square of pasta dough is an ideal size. 10 pieces of this size would make up one
- Tortelloni: The size consideration is in
handling a large, floppy piece of stuffed pasta dough. Two 3½"- 4" tortelloni
make an adequate individual serving or you could make one 5" - 5½" square,
which would be suitable for an individual serving, but you may find the ratio of stuffing
to dough too lopsided. Cook tortelloni in boiling water in a large, shallow flat frying
- Walnuts: We experimented with walnuts and
pecans and prefer walnuts because they give a nice bitterness to this dish and further
counterbalance the sweetness of the butternut squash.