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Up until just yesterday I was quite suspicious of any kind of tofu filled pasta.  I did not believe that the tofu, while being the master of disguise in desserts, could masquerade itself beautifully as a delicately spiced and flavored ricotta.  I have been wanting to make pumpkin ravioli for quite some time.  Thanksgiving is right around the corner so last night seemed to be the perfect time.  I also had in my larder, Libby’s Pumpkin Pack (not pumpkin pie mix).  The only thing I bought for this recipe was a can of tomatoes and firm tofu.  I even made my own whole wheat ravioli dough (more about that later).  I ended up making my own pasta because I did not want to make this as a lasagne (vegan whole wheat lasagne noodles are widely available) and originally decided that I wanted to make stuffed shells but I couldn’f find any whole wheat large ones.  Curiously, when I looked online, all of the whole wheat large pasta shells were “currently not available”
Weird.  Anyway, here is the recipe.  I was very pleased and will be sharing it with my family today.  I only got a chance to share a bit with my mom today.  She was not feeling well so I brought her some to try and maybe fool my dad with later on.  She liked them and I hope that you will too!

I must say that I do so love a recipe where I can use my food processor.  It is the appliance in my kitchen that I use the most besides my stovetop espresso pot (is that really an appliance)?  I love it.  You can also mix this by hand or with a blender but a food processor is optimal.

Pumpkin Ravioli

1 recipe of whole wheat pasta dough or
1 box/bag of whole wheat/regular large shells/manicotti shells
1 pkg firm tofu* (blanched)
6 cloves of garlic (I know it’s a lot but it’s good)
2 tsp fresh rosemary (I finely chopped mine with a splash of olive oil and pinch of salt)
2 tblsp olive oil
1 tsp salt (more or less to your liking)
pepper (I grind my own)
handful of pinenuts
1/2 c. fresh basil packed
1/2 c. fresh spinach packed
11/2 c. pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie puree)
tomato sauce

Preheat the oven to 350F

*A few weeks ago I took a vegan baking class at the Natural Gourmet Cooking School in NYC.  Fran Costigan, the fabulous instructor, suggests that tofu should be blanched in boiling water for a few minutes and then cooled in order to “freshen” it and lose some of its “beany” taste.  I have applied this technique to my pumpkin ravioli foray.  I have not made this without blanching the tofu so I can’t say for sure if it actually tastes different or not.  I can say that I was pleased ecstatic with this recipe’s results.

Blanching Tofu

Bring a medium pot of water to boil and remove from heat.  Add the block of tofu to the water and let it sit for about 5 minutes.  Drain in a colander, let cool to room temp.,  and cut lengthwise and widthwise into four pieces and wrap up in paper towels to get out extra moisture.  Now you are ready to make the pumpkin ravioli mixture.

Combine the blanched tofu, garlic, rosemary, olive oil, salt, pepper, pinenuts, basil, spinach, and pumpkin puree to the food process or blitz it until well combined.  Stuff mixture into manicotti/large shells or into fresh pasta (and made into ravioli).  Spread some sauce onto the bottom of a baking dish and lay stuffed manicotti/large shells in baking dish and cover with the rest of the sauce.  Spread the remaining sauce over the filled pasta and cover with foil and bake for 30 min.  Remove foil and bake for another 5 min.  Let sit for 5 min. and then serve.

Vegan Pasta Dough

If you do decide to make your own ravioli as I have you could go and find vegan or not vegan fresh pasta/wonton sheets and make ravioli.  Your baking time will be slightly different for fresh pasta than dried pasta.  I could not find any vegan fresh pasta/wonton sheets so I decided to make my own vegan pasta sheets.  Since I don’t posess a rolling pin I fashioned mine out of an empty champagne bottle that I filled with water, corked, and chilled  It was a lengthy process and I did have some leftover pumpkin ravioli puree (which I will be making a lasagna roll ups out of for Thanksgiving).  Don’t forget that the water amount is a guide.  You may need more or less than what I have listed.

1 c. Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Flour Mix
1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 tblsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1-11/2 c. water

Put the flour in the largest mixing bowl that you have and make a volcano out the the flour and salt and then make a well with your fingers.  Mix the water and oil together.  Pour the water and oil mixture a little at a time and mix with your fingers until only a bit of flour is left.  You want the dough firm but not sticky.  Knead the dough until it is elastic.  Form into a ball, cover with plastic, and let rest for 30 min.

Pull dough into four pieces and roll out on well floured surface (flour your rolling pin/champagne bottle also).  Roll your dough to about 1/8th in. thick (if it breaks or tears it is too thin).  Put 2 tsp mounds of pumpkin ravioli puree on the dough and space them out evenly.  Brush the edges of the pasta with water.  Fold over the top piece of ravioli dough and press down gently to get out air bubbles.  Cut raviolis out with pasta cutter or with a knife.  If you do use a knife, seal your ravioli edges with the tines of a fork dipped in flour and pressed down lightly on all edges of the pasta.  Is that confusing enough for you?  Sorry for the lack of pictures.  I am sure that Google or Flickr has a lovely demo of how to do this!  Let the raviolis rest for a few hours so the pasta hardens up slightly.  I thought that my pasta was a little fragile and maybe I didn’t dry it enough, so I decided to bake them without first boiling them.  I baked them at the same temp. in the same manner as the dried pasta except that I baked them for only 25 minutes (covered with foil the whole time).  I serve my raviolis with a side of steamed broccoli.

Wow, that was a long post.  I’ve had harder times writing an assigned essay in the past!!  Enjoy!  Would love to hear you experiences with making this too!

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