Once again I was inspired by local fare. Saturday was a stunning day with a cool breeze and sunny blue skies. We took a stroll through downtown Frederick where we stopped by our new favorite shop, Lebherz Oil & Vinegar Emporium.
To be honest, when I first saw the sign that this oil and vinegar store concept was opening up, I thought it would never be able to draw enough business to survive. Boy was I wrong. Whenever we drop by, the place is buzzing and this week, we could barely make our way along the oil and vinegar dispensers as it was so crowded.
With over 40 varieties of olive oil and vinegar, L.O.V.E. (Lebherz Oil & Vinegar Emporium), the brain child of owner Maggie Lebherz, is an olive oil and vinegar tasting room. The atmosphere is friendly and fun, the staff are well-informed and you could easily spend hours here sampling all of the lovely oils and vinegars.
This weekend we were on a bit of a mission to pick up some of Lebhertz’s “Butter” Olive Oil. We were thinking of making some butternut squash mezzaluna pasta with sage butter, but trying to keep things more on the healthy side, we thought we’d try it using mostly the Butter Olive Oil from L.O.V.E. and just a hint of dairy butter to saute the shallots.
This is one of my favorite pasta recipes, better than anything I’ve tasted in a restaurant and relatively simple. I gave a little kick to the creamy butternut squash filling by adding just a pinch of cayenne pepper and keeping the richness of the recipe intact, the oil imparted a fresher and cleaner taste to the dish, really bringing out the nuttiness of the toasted garlic and sage.
We paired it with a nice Maryland wine called Serendipity from Loew Vineyards, which is located only a few minutes away from us. Serendipity, a light semi dry white made from Reliance grapes, was a perfect match for our homemade pasta dish, and of course, we always love to keep our sources local and support the businesses in our community.
For the pasta Ric loosely followed a Mario Batali’s recipe but used a food processor instead of hand mixing the ingredients. The recipes below will make enough for 2- 4 servings, but both recipes can be doubled easily.
1 cup unbleached flour
1 extra-large egg
2 teaspoons olive oil
Add the flour and egg to your food processor and pulse until incorporated. With the blade spinning, drizzle in the olive oil and just enough water to get the mixture to start to bind and look grainy. It might even ball up and spin around the bowl a few times. Then dump the contents on to a well-floured cutting board. Start kneading the dough with both hands, primarily using the palms of your hands. Dust in more flour if the dough is too sticky. Once the dough is a cohesive mass, remove the dough from the board and scrape up any leftover dry bits. Lightly flour the board and continue kneading for 6 more minutes, remembering to dust your board with flour when necessary. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set aside for 20 minutes at room temperature.
Ric used a small hand crank pasta rolling machine and followed the general instructions for rolling out the dough. It has 7 thickness settings and for this recipe he stopped at setting #4. One trick for great looking sheets of pasta dough is after you’ve dusted, folded over, and run the dough thru setting #7 about 5 or 6 times you then run the sheet thru each subsequent setting only once without any folding over.
Note: Do not skip the kneading or resting portion of this recipe, they are essential for a light pasta (Mario’s wise words there).
Butternut Squash filling
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 cup roasted butternut squash puree
1 tablespoon heavy cream
3 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 recipe pasta dough, rolled out into wide ribbons
12 fresh sage leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large clove garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
In a sauté pan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the shallots and sauté for 1 minute. Add the squash puree and cook about 4 to 5 minutes to reduce some of the moisture. Stir in the cream and continue to cook for a minute or two. Remove from the heat and stir in 3 tablespoons cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Let mixture cool completely.
Since we used a 4 inch mezzaluna press, Ric rolled the pasta so it was 5-6 inches wide. He then used a glass with a 5 inch rim to cut the pasta into rounds (best to use a pasta cutter but we used what we had on hand).
Brush the pasta round with water on one side facing up and then place the round over the mezzaluna form and gently press into the indentation. Drop a heaping teaspoonful of the filling into the center of the pasta round and bring the handles up together, pressing firmly and then open the press to remove the half moon. Gently add the pasta to pot of boiling water. Cook until al dente, about 2 to 3 minutes or until the pasta floats and are pale in color. Remove the pasta from the water and drain well.
In a sauté pan over medium heat, sauté the minced garlic and chopped sage leaves in the olive oil just until the garlic begins to brown and then remove from heat (this should only take a couple of minutes while swirling the pan so not to let the garlic burn).
Place some of the pasta in the center of each serving plate. Spoon the olive oil over the pasta. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with a fresh sprig of sage.