This seemingly over-indulgent and altogether gorgeous dish will beguile you. You might think that you can’t possibly eat this without guilt. Believe it or not, this dish, with shaved cinnamon-crusted Toscano cheese, béchamel sauce (pronounced bay’-sha-mel), butternut squash ravioli, and passion, is but 10 points on the old Weight Watchers Points system (Points Plus and 360° can genuinely fuck off). When I tabulated the points, I was blown away myself.
Yesterday, Sunday, we took our kid to his first big league ball game at the Big A and watched the Angels actually beat the White Sox under the Southern California sun. Since it’s a 3 1/2 hour drive for us each way, we decided to take the next day off, drop the kiddo off at daycare, and ponder the niceties of life. Like date nights, these simple days off once in a while are important for families and general sanity, I’m realizing.
For example, non-holiday Monday morning shopping at Trader Joe’s cannot be more peaceful. It’s insightful, really, to realize that just the space of no kid or regular public around can truly make you see another angle in this life-journey that we travel. The rigmarole of wrangling with a kid who doesn’t want to get dressed, putting the kid in the car as they remark on the cracks in the sidewalk and that there are wipies on the floor of the car, having inane conversations about the construction equipment lining the streets, acknowledging that, yes, the back seat window is completely covered with melted stickers, dealing with glutted small town traffic replete with old people braking when they see leaves on the street, getting the kid out of the car without s/he running rampant through the parking lot, and finally chasing the kid around Trader Joe’s as he aims for every Achilles tendon to maim with his kid-cart…these activities make us forget that there was once a time when shopping always seemed to be accompanied by the old Price is Right music when Johnny was explaining each item upon which to be bid. It’s still there. I promise. I heard it today.
And with it, I found this:
Of course, homemade ravioli are always superior, but they’re a pain in the ass to make. Alternatively, these are pretty awesome in my opinion, and I think you’ll agree.
When I calculated the WW points, each portion is a 4. I knew that I had a WW béchamel sauce recipe that turned out to be a 3 for 1/2 cup o’ sauce, which is a good amount of sauce, I might add. We also topped it with a T.J.’s cinnamon-coated Toscano cheese, of which we only took a few shavings for each portion. A 10? Could it be true? ‘Tis.
And then it all struck me in an epiphany. The butternut squash ravioli with a nutmeg-flavored béchamel sauce, topped with shaved cinnamon Italian cheese, there is no need to say more; it’s a nut-buster on every level. Moreover, it’s light. Lastly, to make it, it’s as easy as a cougar in a fit of whimsy with a new dress from Nordstrom Rack.
T.J.’s Butternut Squash and Ravioli with Béchamel Sauce
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup flour
3 cups 1% milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 white pepper
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 package Trader Joe’s Butternut Squash Triangoli
shavings of Toscano, grana, or parmesan cheese (again, the cinnamon coated Toscano cheese totally works with the squash and the nutmeg; it’s a match made in the heavens)
Note: You need to constantly whisk the sauce, kiddo, no joke. So give yourself 20 minutes or so to do it. If you don’t whisk it constantly, you will have a burnt milk mess on your hands. I’m just sayin’.
Get a big pot o’ water boiling for the pasta. When it’s boiling, add a few tablespoons of salt right before you put in the pasta. Get the sauce almost done before you start cooking the ravioli; timing is kind of key in all of this.
For the sauce, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat Whisk in the flour and it will get cake-y and crumbly. No worries. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly, until it’s totally smooth and those lumps are gone. Add in the salt, white pepper, thyme, and nutmeg. Get this to a simmer to thicken it, which will take about 10 to 12 minutes (or more), as you whisk. When it’s a creamy consistency and it’s boiling a bit, you’ve nailed it.
Drain the cooked ravioli and toss it with some of the sauce. Divide the ravioli between three plates and top each with 1/2 cup of the béchamel sauce. Top this with some shaved cheese, and then sprinkle a bit of dried thyme on there to keep it real. You’ll get this:
Say it loud alone, but obnoxiously in mixed company:
Acqua fresca, vino puro,
Fica stretta, cazzo duro.
Until later, eat drink, and peace out.
©Jon Marino 2013