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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Valentine's Day Feast: Brown Butter, Sage and Pine Nut Squash Ravioli with Beef Tenderloin

If you've been following the blog on Facebook over the past few days, you'll have heard of my family's Valentine's Day tradition.  It all started 10 years ago on my second date with my husband, which conveniently landed on Valentine's Day.  He thought that a nice dinner out might be too much for a second date, so he invited me to his house for dinner, where he made me Fettucine Alfredo alla Romana and bruschetta.  Ten years later, we still celebrate Valentine's Day by making a special dinner at home.  A couple of years ago, we started including my daughter in the preparations, and last night my 22-month-old son stirred the pot for the first time.

We love this tradition, and will continue it in the future (although we may give up celebrating on Valentine's Day on the actual day when it falls on a weekday...it was tough making a special dinner with two little ones after work!).  Last night we were inspired by a package of squash-filled ravioli we found at a local store.  This entire dinner came together in under 45 minutes, but the flavor seemed like it took much, much longer!  I served the ravioli with slices of beef tenderloin with a red wine butter sauce (from my cookbook I received from my husband yesterday morning (!), Avec Eric).  The ravioli was really the star of the show, though.  (Sorry, Chef Ripert!)  ;-)  The sauce is buttery (duh!) and savory, while the pasta is soft and pillowy, and the pine nuts add a much needed semi-crunchy texture to the whole dish.

Because I was out of town over the weekend, and because it was a weeknight, I completely forgot dessert, but luckily, one of my favorite sweet shops in town, Karamel Kreations, was open at 4:55pm when I realized we didn't have any dessert...and I snagged the last box of chocolate-covered strawberries!  Yum!

I hope you had a wonderful Valentine's Day!

Brown Butter, Sage and Pine Nut Squash Ravioli
Serve 4-6

Cook's Notes: This dish can be used as a side, but also is great as a vegetarian main dish.  If you cannot find squash-filled ravioli, try a cheese-filled version.

4 tablespoons pine nuts
1 package squash- or pumpkin-filled ravioli, fresh or dried
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 shallot, minced
1 teaspoon dried sage, or a few fresh sage leaves, minced
2 tablespoons dry white wine
2 tablespoons beef stock
1-2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Set a large pot of water to boil.  While the water is coming to a boil, toast the pine nuts in a dry pan over medium heat until golden, stirring often so the nuts don't burn.  Place in a small bowl and set aside.

If using dried ravioli, start the brown butter sauce once you've put the ravioli in to cook.  If using fresh pasta, start the sauce about 10 minutes before putting the pasta in to cook.  In a large heavy-bottomed pot, melt the butter over medium heat.  When the butter starts to brown on the edges, add the shallots.  Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the butter is a deep golden brown.  Add the sage and stir to combine.  Add the white wine and stir to combine.  Add the beef stock and stir to combine.  Add a teaspoon of lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.  If the sauce is too savory, add a little more lemon juice to your taste.

When the pasta is done cooking according to the package directions, add the drained pasta to the sauce.  Pour the pine nuts over and toss gently to coat.  Serve immediately with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. 

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