To make the filling for the agnolotti, start by baking one butternut squash. If you find one already cubed, awesome–that will work just fine. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and white pepper. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of light brown sugar. Bake until the squash is tender and you can easily pierce with a fork. Cool at room temperature.
Once cooled, add the butternut squash flesh (no skin!) to a food processor. Blend until smooth. Add the ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, and maple syrup (the real stuff, please.) The result with be super smooth and creamy with a bright orange color.
To fill the agnolotti, fill a pastry bag with the butternut squash/cheese mixture. Or you can fill a large (gallon-size) Ziploc bag. Roll down the sides to ease the process. Twist the bag above the filling to fill the bottom of the bag–snip off the corner of the Ziploc bag (about a 1/4 to 1/2 inch big.) Better to start with a smaller snip and take off more if needed. You want the opening to produce the filling in a 1/2-inch wide log.
Lay the pasta sheet on a floured work surface (a cutting board or clean kitchen counter.) Starting an inch from the top of the sheet and an inch from the left side of the sheet, pipe the filling across the pasta sheet. Stop about 1 inch before the end of the sheet. Fold the sheet over and press closed. With your 2 index fingers, press around each agnolotti to form, each about 1 inch wide. Fold the whole row over and press between each agnolotti again. Trim the bottom dough off with a crimped roller. Cut between each agnolotti with the crimped roller. Place agnolotti on a floured baking sheet (or on top of parchment paper, as I have done below.) This should make about 4 dozen agnolotti. If consuming now, place in boiling water. If not, freeze on the baking sheet. IMPORTANT NOTE: I realize this is difficult to follow and hard to visualize. As this was my first time making the agnolotti shape (a ravioli shape,) I consulted a bunch of cookbooks. I was still puzzled with the technique. Then I found this video online from Cooking My Way Through Nicholas – The Cookbook. It’s awesome! Please, watch this video and do exactly as in the video. Your agnolotti will turn out perfectly.
Some shots from my agnolotti making:
Butternut Squash Agnolotti with Pancetta, Toasted Breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and Beurre Monte
Part 2: Butternut Squash Filling
1 large butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon real maple syrup
3 prepared pasta sheets (from Basic Pasta Dough, part 1 of recipe)
Salt & white pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Cut butternut squash into quarters. First, through the middle vertically. Then in half, horizontally. Peel quarters. Place in a baking sheet (with a lip), drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with brown sugar, salt, and white pepper. Bake until flesh is easily pierced with a fork (all the way through.) This should take 40 minutes to an hour. NOTE: If you purchase fresh cubed butternut squash, that’s great–cooking time will probably be less.
3. Cool cooked squash at room temperature.
4. Once squash is easy to handle, add flesh to a food processor. Blend until smooth. Add the ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, syrup, salt and white pepper. Blend again. Taste–if it needs more salt, add it.
5. Spoon mixture into a pastry bag or large Ziploc bag. Roll down the sides of the bag to help this process. Work the filling down to the bottom corner of the bag. Twist the bag right above the top of the filling. Snip off the corner of the bag (about 1/2 inch wide) and pipe a bit of the filling out. If the width of the piping is less than a 1/2 inch wide, snip a little bit more of the bag off until the right width is achieved.
6. Pipe the mixture onto the pasta sheets as described above.