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Family Central: Ravioli with Brown Butter Sauce

I first discovered this dish at a restaurant in Birmingham, Alabama, and have tried for years to make it at home…but have always been intimidated when making the sheets of pasta for homemade ravioli. Sometimes I get the sheets too thin, other times too thick – not to mention that it always seems like I’m looking for the quickest way to get dinner on the table for two hungry teenage boys!

I was thrilled when a good friend told me about using wonton wrappers as the ravioli pasta, although I was skeptical thinking somehow that Asian flavors would be in the wrapper and would affect the taste of any dish I prepared. Of course, that’s not the case, and using wonton wrappers as ravioli pasta has allowed me the time and creativity to experiment with all kinds of new pasta dishes.

This Ravioli with Brown Butter Sauce doesn’t have any meat, but no one in my family leaves the table hungry or wondering why we didn’t have the standard “meat and three” on the weeknight table. It’s also elegant enough to serve at your weekend dinner parties, allowing about three ravioli per person. Of course, if you have teenagers, you might want to double the recipe!


For the ravioli:
1 medium butternut squash
1/2 bunch thyme
2 Tbs vegetable oil
Pinch of nutmeg
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped from the pod
36 wonton wrappers
1 egg, lightly beaten for egg wash
1 Tbs unsalted butter

For the brown butter sauce:
5 Tbs unsalted butter
15 fresh sage leaves
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese

Heat the oven to 375°F. Cut the squash in half and remove seeds. Season with salt and pepper, and place cut-side down on a rimmed baking sheet that’s been sprinkled with thyme sprigs and vegetable oil. Bake for about 45 minutes or until squash is completely soft. Set aside and allow to cool.

When the squash is cool enough to handle, use a spoon to scoop the flesh from its skin and place in a large mixing bowl. Discard skin. Season squash with nutmeg, vanilla bean seeds, salt, and freshly ground pepper. Mash this mixture by hand until it is well blended but still slightly chunky. Put the mixture in a colander set in the sink, and let the excess liquid drain off for about 30 minutes.

Form the ravioli by placing about 2 tsp of the squash mixture on a wonton wrapper. Brush the edges with a pastry brush dipped slightly into the beaten egg, and place another wonton wrapper on top. Be sure to remove all air pockets and seal the edges well.

Bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. To make the sauce, place 6 Tbs of butter in a medium sauté pan and cook until browned. Add sage and chicken broth, and bring to a simmer. Reduce until sauce is slightly thickened, and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

When the water is at a rolling boil, add the ravioli and cook until tender, about 3 minutes.

To serve, place a few Tbs of grated cheese onto each dish and top with three ravioli. Spoon the brown butter sauce over the ravioli.