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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Squash and Spinach (and feta optional) Homemade WholeWheat Ravioli

I forgot that I made this until I was going through photos on my camera. At the time of making this (3 weeks ago), I forgot that I even had a blog.  Work has been busy. Life has been busy.  Cooking is wonderful, but then I forget about taking photos and putting on here. Until yesterday, when I was gchatting with Roddy, in Berlin, and he told me what he was having for dinner tonight. It was horrid (1/2 can of leftover beans on bread).  He said it was cheap and easy. I was making spinach and yogurt daal, also cheap and easy. He said, well, if you put recipes on your blog again, I would make them. I said fine, I will.  How ridiculous is it that after over 4 years together, we are communicating on gchat and through a blog. and skype. But tonight we're going to Thailand, for 2 WEEKS!!! and I'm just bursting with excitement.

So, anyway, flash back to 3 weeks ago, when I thought about making homemade whole wheat ravioli. It was squash season. Or some kind of mutantly large squash/pumpkin hybrid season.  I had made my way around Soliman Gohar Street, my favorite produce market, and been seeing a tonne of these things. Large, squash shaped, light orange, the size of the watermelons that Baby carried in Dirty Dancing. I came into work and asked Maha, how do I say squash in Arabic, or pumpkin. She was a little unclear, so  I described what I was talking about, and she said "OHHHHH, the big juicy fruit, kind of like a watermelon or canteloupe", Me, "Nooo, it's a vegetable, like a pumpkin". Her, "No, I know what you are talking about. It's a fruit, we bake it with cinnamon and brown sugar", Me, "ummm, okay. no, it's a vegetable, but thanks". I walked away feeling confused and unsure of what I was buying. And okay, I get it. First, I could have just bought it, brought it home and opened it up. But they are HUGE and it's a 20 min walk from my house.  Second, I really should have just trusted Maha. I mean, she's Egyptian. We work for an agricultural organization. Come on Lori.  

So,  I found a guy who sold them AND chopped those big honkin things into cubes. Amazing.

I took them home, and roasted them. After a few minutes, I checked on them... "Heather, these smell like canteloupe...". Okay, so in the end Maha was right. They were a fruit. I'm not vegetabley knowledgable. I get it, how am I working at an agricultural organization??? I WORK IN FISHERIES!!!! give me a break already.

Anyway. Here is the only photo of the process of making these bad boys.  When we were on the homestretch:

Can you get the idea of how beautiful these would become? Particularly beautiful on the tastebuds??? Maybe not. BUT THEY WERE. If I ever told Heather the webaddress of this blog, I would get her to vouch for me. Instead, you'll just have to take my word for it.

Overall this was relatively easy. Considering my mood. In my opinion, there are two types of times when one eats pasta. 1) When you are CRAVING warm, lovely, comforting pasta. 2) When you are starving and tired and don't give a crap what you put in your mouth.  

Homemade pasta should only be attempted in scenario 1. Trying it in scenario 2 could result in shoving raw pasta dough in your mouth and chasing it with sauce and a glass of wine. Or consuming an entire bag of chocolate chips.  

My Tuscan boss would not likely approve of this recipe. He says ravioli should have meat or potatoes in it. In my head, that's a pierogi. Or with some different spices, a samosa. But hey, I wanted wholewheat pasta (available in grocery stores here in Cairo at an exorbitant price), and I wanted to try those Giant squash things. The result was tastebud bliss.

Pasta Recipe

2 cups wholewheat flour (plus more for rolling)
2 eggs
1 tbsp olive oil
Few tbsp water

Mix these together. Let sit for 15 min.

Break dough into two, form into rectangles and get rolling. Have plenty of flour on hand for rolling pin and counter. Roll out one rectangle until very thin. The recommendation is 1/8 inch. But I don't know what that is so I guessed at what pasta should be. Set one rolled out sheet aside and roll the other.  Cut into squares, I made them about 5cm by 5cm. But the size is up to you.

Filling Recipe
2 cups roasted squash/pumpkin
2 handfuls of spinach
Pinches of nutmeg and cinnamon
1 clove garlic

Put all ingredients in blender and blend. 

Spoon on filling onto each square. Then: take and egg and mix it into a cup. Spread it on the edges of the squares and put the squares from one rolled out sheet onto the other. Use a fork to seal the sides.  

Throw in some boiling water for about 3 minutes and you're done!!

For the sauce, I cooked up some butter and thyme. Also, I sprinkled feta on top. Heather did not. It's just a matter of how much of a feta cheese addict you are.  I love feta and could not imagine not having it on this meal, but Heather really liked hers without feta. I don't believe her.


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