Fall is in my opinion best represented by 2 main ingredients: pumpkin and mushrooms.
At the end of August in Italy, when the temperature are still warm but it starts to rain more, the woods starts to fill with mushroom hunters. Restaurants start adding Porcini mushrooms to their menus and display them proudly in a basket outside of the door. This was everybody knows it’s finally that time of the year.
Summer is not over yet but everybody starts craving Fall. The chilly weather, the colors of nature changing and the vegetables in the market turning colors, from the red of tomatoes to the orange of pumpkins.
About Porcini mushrooms
Porcini mushrooms are one of the most common and loved mushroom variety in Italy. You can find them fresh in the markets and supermarkets only a couple of months per year and dried for the rest of the year.
Every family in Italy has its own favorite Porcini recipe, the most common dishes are usually with Tagliatelle or Risotto. But they’re also very common fried or stewed as a side dish.
They have a strong flavour, almost similar to Shiitake mushrooms. They’re usually cooked by themselves or with the addition of a complementary vegetable with a softer flavour, like pumpkin.
Pumpkins and mushrooms are children of Fall, the grow together and they taste delicious together. See also my recipe for Risotto with Pumpkin and Porcini mushrooms.
If you cannot find them fresh nor dried, a good substitute for Porcini mushrooms are Shiitake mushrooms. Or if you want a softer flavor, use the more common Cremini mushrooms.
About this dish
A couple of years ago when we were in Italy in October, we went to visit a tiny village (we always love to go around Tuscany and discover the beautiful rural villages) called Montefollonico. We had a walk around and then decided to stop for lunch in a little cute Trattoria. We were the only ones there and the host was really friendly. Porcini mushrooms where of course added in the “Menù del Giorno” (menu of the day) with other seasonal products. I ordered the most appealing to me: homemade ravioli stuffed with Porcini mushrooms and ricotta ad served with a cream of pumpkin and thyme.
I did before ravioli stuffed with mushrooms and with pumpkin (see my recipe for Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli), but somehow I never thought of using Porcini mushrooms, maybe because of their intense flavor. This dish was so delicious that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. When we went back home in The Netherlands, I immediately tried to make it again. I did my version but it was still oh so good!
To see step-by-step photos of the Ravioli making, see my post of Smoked Salmon Ravioli.
Porcini Mushrooms Ravioli with spicy Pumpkin and Thyme sauce
For the Pasta
- 100 g 3/4 cup All-Purpose Flour
- 80 g 2/3 cup Semolina Flour
- 2 medium Eggs
- a pinch of Salt
For the filling
- 6 medium fresh or 40g 1.5 oz dried, Porcini mushrooms
- EVO Oil
- 150 g 3/4 cup Ricotta
- 1/2 Garlic clove minced
- 1/4 cup White Wine
- Back Pepper ground
For the sauce
- 1/2 Hokkaido Pumpkin
- EVO Oil
- 1/2 tbsp dried Thyme
- Chilli Pepper flakes optional
- 1/2 cup Milk
- Black Pepper ground
- Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
For the Filling
Rehydrate the dried mushrooms in a bowl of hot water for at least 30 minutes.
Add the minced garlic in a pan drizzled with olive oil. Turn on the heat to medium and when the garlic starts to sizzle, toss the finely chopped mushrooms.
Let them brown for a few minutes, then pour the white wine and let evaporate. Turn down the heat.
Season with salt and pepper and let the mushrooms cook for about 7-8 minutes. Add some water if necessary.
When the mushrooms are cooked, drain the excess liquid and add let them cool.
Add the mushrooms to the Ricotta, add the finely chopped parsley and mix well. Season again if necessary.
For the Ravioli
Have a large table or cutting board cleaned and ready to make the fresh pasta. Keep a clean towel next to you to rest the Ravioli.
In a large wooden board (or a large bowl) put all the flour creating kind of a mountain, make a hole in the center and break the eggs in. Add a pinch of salt and with a fork start mixing the eggs slowly.
Still mixing with the fork, add the flour to the eggs a little bit at a time until it gets all mixed up together.
When you've added already most of the flour and it becomes hard to mix with the fork, mix well with your hands until it becomes a uniform dough, add some more flour to the board if necessary and knead for 10-15 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.
Now cover the dough in plastic wrap and set aside to rest for 10-15 minutes.
After the rest time, with a rolling pin or pasta machine, roll the dough until it gets quite thin, but not too thin that'll break.
With a teaspoon or a sac-a-poche place the filling in the center of the sheet, big as a walnut, leaving about 5 cm (2 in) between each other.
Brush with water around the filling and cover with the other pasta sheet. Pinch with your finger starting from one side and slowly all around to also remove the air from inside the ravioli.
Cut the ravioli with a knife or a cutter, then press again the edges with your fingers to make sure they're well stick together and then set the ravioli aside on the clean cloth to rest. Proceed with the same process for the rest of the pasta.
For the Sauce
Peel and chop the pumpkin in cubes. Boil in slightly salted water for 15-20 minutes or until a fork can pierce it easily.
Drain and add the thyme and the chilli pepper flakes. Blend in a blender until smooth.
Add the milk a little bit at a time while mixing with a spatula, until you get a creamy sauce. It shouldn't be too liquid, nor too firm.
Season with salt and black pepper and set aside.
Boil the Ravioli for 3-4 minutes in a large pot of salted water.
Pour the sauce on the plates, drain the ravioli and add them on top. Serve with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
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