Agnolotti pasta filled with buttercup squash in a sauce of cream, hickory nut oil and tart balsamic vinegar. This is one of my favorite pasta specials I used to run in the Fall. I use a few special ingredients here, but you can improvise with what you have on hand.
How to make agnolotti
Agnolotti are very similar to ravioli, but they're faster to make in quantity since they aren't cut out with a ring mold individually.
Just like ravioli, you put the filling in a pastry bag fitted with a round tip, piping mounds on the pasta dough. The difference between agnolotti and ravioli is agnolotti are folded over and have a small lip of dough on the bottom. You can see that in the last image below.
Chefs love these as a ravioli alternative that gives more yield for the labor involved.
Choosing the flavors
I love pasta filled with squash, and there's lots of different things you can serve them.
Here I use an interesting trick you probably haven't heard of: mixing oil into cream. It might sound like overkill, but cream amplifies the flavor of rich oils, especially nut oils. And, if you like squash, you know toasted nuts are one of the best things to pair with them.
It's easy to do. Heat a little cream with a pinch of salt, then stir in some aromatic nut oil before tossing with the pasta. The cream and oil won't blend, and you don't want them too. The finished dish appears as a broken sauce of white cream dotted with golden oil.
I use Sam Thayer's bitternut hickory nut oil, but you could use walnut, hazelnut, or pecan oil.
Oil and cream are rich, so something acidic can help add balance to the dish. A little balsamic vinegar is the perfect accent, but you need to make sure you use the right kind.
Regular balsamic vinegar is loose and watery, but aged balsamic, especially ones 10-20 years old will be thicker and easier to drizzle. Besides being thicker, the aged syrup is also sweeter. The good stuff is expensive though. Here's one that's doesn't cost too much.
Saba is a similar condiment you can use, made from the must of grapes. It's sweeter than balsamic, as well as cheaper. If you don't have either of those, you can always use thick balsamic, or balsamic reduction syrup.
You can make balsamic reduction at home by reducing balsamic vinegar by 60% of it's volume.
The basic flavor combo of dairy, nut oil, and sweet-tart reduction could take a number of forms. If you don't have any nut oil, brown butter is good too. If you'd like to try your hand at something similar, here's some flavor combos you might try:
Similar flavor combinations
- Squash Ravioli, Cream, Walnut or Pecan Oil, 10 yr Balsamic, Walnuts
- Poultry Liver Ravioli, Cream, Hazelnut Oil, 10 yr Balsamic, Hazelnuts
- Squash Ravioli, Cream, Pumpkinseed Oil, Pumpkinseeds
Here's a few things to keep in mind.
- I used hickory nut oil, but you can use any nut oil you like.
- If you don't want to use cream, use browned butter and skip the cream and oil altogether.
- After I make the pasta, I may freeze them on a baking sheet lined with parchment, then put them into a zip-top bag until I need them. Frozen ravioli will last for a few weeks in the freezer.
- Fried sage leaves always make a good garnish for dishes with squash.
- You can use a food processor to make the pasta dough if you don't have a stand mixer, or don't want to knead.
- Originally I made this with birch syrup, but balsamic is easier to come by. If you have some birch syrup, this is a great place to use it.
Squash Agnolotti with Cream and Balsamic Vinegar
- 8 oz cooked squash ravioli preferably homemade using kabocha or buttercup squash
- 6 Tablespoons heavy cream
- High quality grated parmesan to taste
- Birch syrup a good drizzle for each serving
- Kosher salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons toasted shagbark hickory nuts
- 2 Tablespoons walnut oil I used bitternut hickory oil
- Fresh cracked black pepper
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the agnolotti until al dente. Meanwhile, just before the ravioli is done, heat the cream in a 8 inch saute pan until steaming and hot, but don't boil.
- Stir the oil into the cream, it won't become homogenous. Transfer the ravioli to the pan with the cream, turn the heat back on and get them hot, adding a splash of pasta cooking water if the pan gets dry.
- Double check the seasoning, adjust as needed for salt and divide between small, heated pasta bowls as an appetizer. Garnish with the parmesan, fresh cracked black pepper, a few toasted hickory nuts, and a good drizzle of the balsamic.