I’m an autumn moper. There, I said it. This is the time of year where I have to face the fact that it’s getting too dark too quickly. It’s the time of year where I have to come to terms with the fact that my feet will be frozen for the next six or seven months. But then I suddenly look up and face a mindboggling array of various squash and pumpkin -esque shapes, and remind myself that there are some positives about this time of year, too.
Pumpkin, or “punkin” as my mother so adorably calls it, is a delicious vegetable which is overshadowed by pre-processing and all too often goes to waste. As an American I only ever knew pumpkin to be one of two things: something edible out of a can or something carved for Halloween. How tragic is that? My recollection of pumpkin was either from a factory or a vision of perfectly good food gone to waste (!!!), so I’ve been making an effort over the past couple of years to, you know, actually cook with the real live vegetable. Since it’s food and all.
If you’ve never cooked with pumpkin before, this is it. Seriously, this is it. It’s one of the most delicious things I’ve had in a long while, and I’m so happy there were enough left to freeze for one or two more meals.
Don’t listen to anyone who tried to tell you that making your own pumpkin purée is difficult or “not worth it.” Dude, really, all you do is cut the thing into a few wedges and stick it in the oven. You don’t even need to purée it properly for this recipe (a light mashing will do). Anyone who tells you this process is hard is either a canned pumpkin lobbyist or a terrorist, clearly.
I suspect not many people make their own soymilk and tofu, and I’ve never really seen it marketed widely in food retail, so I know okara seems an inconvenient ingredient. If you can’t get ahold of it, don’t worry. I use okara because it’s coming out my ears and because I like the slightly grainy texture (reminiscent of store-bought ricotta), but you should be able to use a crumbled extra firm tofu with no problem.
I used a small amount of vegan mozzarella cheese in this recipe, but if you don’t have that on hand then feel free to use a basic cheddar substitute or simply omit the ingredient altogether. The ravioli will survive and you’ll still enjoy your dinner.
The sauce, if you could call it that, I used was a simple hazelnut and garlic mix in vegan butter and extra virgin olive oil. You could also try lightly frying some whole sage leaves in garlic and oil/non-dairy butter also. I would advise against a sauce which is too heavy with flavour because the flavour of the ravioli is so good on its own. Try not to top it with anything too overpowering.
Vegan Pumpkin and Okara Ravioli
- To make your pumpkin puree, get the oven going at 200 C (400 F). Slice a small to medium sized pumpkin in half and remove the seeds. Cut each half in half again. Halve the halfs again if your pumpkin is, like, 8 feet wide. Stick on a tray and roast for half an hour or so, or until the flesh is soft. Remove and allow to cool before peeling the skin away from the flesh with a spoon (it will come away very easily).
- To prepare your pasta dough mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the olive oil and mix in the flour until there are no large chunks of flour-oil mass left. Add the water slowly, mixing with the flour until you achieve a smooth dough. You’re better off with a drier dough than a floppy lump of of moisture, so take it easy with the water flow. You can use either a dough mixer or your hands, whichever you prefer. Ensure the ingredients are evenly mixed and set the dough aside in a covered bowl for at least 15 minutes, or while you prepare the ravioli stuffing.
- Throw all the other ingredients in a bowl with the pumpkin and mash it up. Tricky, I know.
- If you’re using a pasta maker, follow the instructions as per its instruction manual (yes, I sometimes read them). If you haven’t yet invested in a pasta maker, what’s wrong with you? Sike. Get out the rolling pin and get busy. Break the dough into 4 or 5 chunks and roll each out to approx 1-2mm in thickness. To do this, you’ll have to keep a bowl of flour on hand to continually dust both your surface and the sheet of pasta with which you’re currently working.
- To make the actual ravioli, place a line of about 1/2 tbsp filling about an inch from the edge along one rectangular sheet of dough, leaving 1.5-2 inches between each. Brush around the edges with water and fold the other half over the top. Press and seal around the edges. Using a pastry cutter, cut around the edges to make individual raviolis.
- Collect any remaining dough, roll out and follow the steps again. Repeat until no dough is left.
- Cook the pasta for just a few minutes in boiling water. Don’t overcook!
- If this is a pain in your arse, stuff some shells instead. Or go buy a pasta maker, or one of those clever ravioli gadgets or something.