This monthly cooking series features husband and wife team Barry and Kelley Courter.
BARRY SAYS: We were inspired to create this dish by the recent Gaining Ground recipe contest. Local folks were asked to submit their best recipe using local produce, and the five finalists all came up with something different and delicious.
One of the items featured was kale.
KELLEY SAYS: Kale is one of those healthy but underutilized vegetables. It's a versatile ingredient that can be used many ways.
I wanted comfort food as the weather begins to cool, so pasta seemed a good choice. I also wanted to focus on fall vegetables. I did not, however, want to go to the trouble to make the pasta, so we bought fresh, ready-to-cook sheets of pasta from Tony's Pasta. (Full disclosure: Kelley works in the Bluff View Art District).
We couldn't decide on whether we wanted a butternut squash sauce or a pumpkin-based sauce, so we went with both. Even a couple of days later, we are still trying to pick a favorite
BARRY: I liked them both, though the pumpkin sauce had more of a wow factor for me. Trying something like this side by side is kind of interesting but kind of unfair. Either one would easily stand on its own.
You really taste the bacon in the first one, and the creamy pumpkin sauce and the candied bourbon pecans shine in the second.
KELLEY: Having a good ravioli cutter would have made this job a little easier. Mine was not very sharp, so cutting the pasta took extra effort. It was, however, worth it, and both sauces were a good companion to the ravioli. Using the pasta sheets, you could just as easily make a lasagna with all the ingredients listed. Also, if you didn't have the fresh pasta sheets for the ravioli, wonton wrappers work just as well, but the flavor is slightly different.
Kale and Mushroom Ravioli
21/2 tablespoons bacon grease or olive oil
4-6 fresh crimini mushrooms, chopped
1/2 (10-ounce) box dried porcini mushrooms, reconstituted and chopped (save liquid)
1 large shallot minced
1 bunch kale, chopped
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup toasted pecans
1/4 cup fresh grated porcini-Romano cheese
Dash salt and pepper
Fresh pasta sheet to make ravioli
For filling: Heat grease or oil in pan on medium heat. Add mushrooms and shallots, and sauté until wilted. Add kale in stages, and cook until wilted. Once cooked, remove from heat and let cool. Place in food processor, and add Worcestershire, pecans and cheese. Moisten with reserved mushroom liquid, season with salt and pepper to taste, and let cool.
For sauce: Follow included recipes for Butternut Squash Sauce or Creamy Pumpkin Sauce served with Brown Butter Sage Sauce.
To assemble: You'll need a ravioli cutter or similar. Using a pasta sheet (ours were 11 by 22 inches, which yielded a 4-across by 8-down pattern, but the size may vary), spread one teaspoon of filling in a pattern on your sheet of pasta, allowing room between each for the cutting of your ravioli. Moisten pasta with water around what will be the completed edge of the ravioli. The moisture creates a seal.
Place top sheet over bottom layer and press around the filling. Use your cutter to cut individual ravioli. Place on plate and cover with damp cloth.
When ready to cook, bring water to boil and cook ravioli until done, 5-7 minutes. Drain.
To serve with Butternut Squash Sauce: While sauce is sautéing, add a half cup of pasta water to the sauce to thin it. Add 14 or 15 cooked ravioli. To serve, sprinkle with chopped bacon bits and shaved parmesan.
To serve with Pumpkin Cream Sauce: Place 4 to 5 ravioli on each place, spoon warmed pumpkin sauce on top. Add a drizzle of butter sage sauce, and sprinkle on the pecans.
Sauce No. 1 Butternut Squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 butternut squash, cubed
1 long sprig of fresh rosemary, minced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup vegetable broth
16 cherry tomatoes
3 strips Applewood smoked bacon
Parmesan cheese, to taste
In pan, heat olive oil, and sauté cubed squash, rosemary and garlic. When squash begins to soften and caramelize, add vegetable broth to deglaze. Remove from heat, and add tomatoes, cover and let steam. Set aside. Reserve bacon and parmesan for assembly.
Sauce No. 2 Creamy Pumpkin
1/8 cup half-and-half
1/2 fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 can pumpkin
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup Knorr Swiss chicken broth
Heat half-and-half and ground nutmeg to infuse flavors for a couple of minutes. Stir in pumpkin, cinnamon and whipping cream on low heat. Add broth, and simmer until heated. Remove from heat.
Brown Butter Sage Sauce
4 pats butter
4 sage leaves
Bourbon-flavored pecans (we got ours at Fresh Market)
Melt butter on low heat, and cook until it starts to brown. Add sage leaves to crisp. Do not let burn. Remove from heat. This will take about 8 to 10 minutes. Reserve pecans for assembly.
Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...