Roasted Squash Caramelle With Brown Butter & Sage
Here, the colour in the green pasta dough comes from spirulina, a dried, powdered algae which is available from health food shops. It’s rich in nutrients and vitamins and is often used in healthy smoothies – and even by NASA astronauts!
For the egg dough:
- 260g/9oz of Italian 00 flour, plus more for dusting
- 2 whole eggs + 3 egg yolks
For the colourful dough:
- 40g/1½oz fine semolina
- 60g/2oz 00 flour
- 1 whole egg
- 1 tsp spirulina powder
- For the filling
- 2 small squash, approx 750g/1lb 10oz before prepping
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 60g/2oz Parmesan, grated
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- For the sauce
- 60g/2oz butter
- A handful of fresh sage leaves
First make the pasta doughs. For the egg dough, tip the flour onto a clean worktop or board, make a well in the centre and crack the eggs into the middle of it. Break the egg yolks and start to whisk them, slowly incorporating the flour as you go. When everything starts to come together, use your hands to knead the dough and continue to work it for around 10 minutes.
If your dough is too moist, dust it with some extra 00 flour. If it feels too dry and crumbly, wet your hands under the kitchen tap and continue to knead. After 10 minutes your dough should be smooth and pliable. Cover the dough with an upturned bowl and leave it to rest for at least 30 minutes.
The process is the same for making the colourful dough. Simply add the spirulina to the flour, add the egg and continue as above. The dough will be a bit drier than the plain dough, which will help when you create your stripes.
Pre-heat the oven to 190°C true-fan. Prepare the squash. Halve and de-seed, place in a baking tin and drizzle with the olive oil. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, cover with foil and roast in the oven for 45 minutes until the flesh is soft. Take from the oven and allow to cool.
When the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh into a clean bowl, add the Parmesan and grate over the nutmeg. Combine everything together using a wooden spoon until you have a smooth mixture, then season to taste.
Now roll the pasta. Take a quarter piece of your plain pasta dough (leave the rest covered until you’re ready to use it) and start rolling the dough twice through each setting on your pasta machine, starting at 0 and finishing on setting no 6. Rolling twice each time gives you a better, more pliable texture. Leave the rolled pasta sheet to one side, covered with a clean cloth if you like, while you roll out the coloured dough.
Take a quarter of the spirulina dough, roll through each step to setting 6, as above. Attach the tagliatelle cutter to the pasta machine and then pass the dough through to create strips. If you don’t have a tagliatelle attachment simply use a metal ruler and a knife to create the strips.
Decide how you would like to create your pattern – I just made diamonds on my dough – but you could do squares or stripes. Place the strips of coloured dough across the plain sheet, gently press it with your fingertips to keep it in place, then carefully lift the whole sheet and pass it through the pasta machine on setting 6. This will compress the two doughs together. Place the sheet colourful side down on the worktop.
Now cut the pasta into rectangles of approx. 7 x 9cms (2¾ x 3½ ins). Take a heaped teaspoon of the squash filling and place into the bottom centre of the longer side of each rectangle. Fold the dough over twice to create a small tube, press your index fingers into the dough at either end of the filling to seal and then pleat the outer long edges together to create a shape like a small wrapped sweet. (This is where video pause comes in handy).
Place each caramelle onto a tray dusted with semolina to make sure they don’t stick, then continue to shape the remainder of the dough. Roll the rest of the pasta, using a quarter at a time and covering the remainder until you’re ready to use it until you have a tray full of pretty pasta.
Now make the brown butter. Place the butter in a shallow saucepan and cook on setting 5 for 7-10 minutes until the it smells fragrant and nutty. Pass the butter sauce through a sieve, straining it into a large clean saucepan (sieving removes any pieces of burned fat to leave a nice glistening sauce). Keep the sauce on setting 2 while you cook the pasta.
Set a large pot filled with water on the hob and when the water is boiling season it generously with table salt. Carefully drop the pasta into the water and cook for 2 minutes. Before you lift the cooked pasta from the pan, add half a ladleful of the pasta cooking water into the brown butter sauce to create a silky emulsion.
Scoop out the caramelle and add to the saucepan with the sage leaves. Gently swirl everything together until the pasta is nicely coated. Share between four warmed plates and finish with a generous grating of Parmesan.