If you ask Executive Chef Bruce Feingold how he would describe the menu at Dada, it’s hard to find an answer, but he settles on “eclectic American.” The team doesn’t like to stick to the same-old same-old, changing out dishes and bringing in seasonal ones. But there’s one that’s not going anywhere: the butternut squash ravioli.
The pillows of homemade pasta are stuffed with a puree of butternut squash, cheeses, brown sugar and seasoning, then a thyme cream sauce is spooned over the top. Finally, crispy asparagus and diced tomatoes finish the presentation and also brighten up the dish.
“It became one of the most popular dishes,” Feingold says. “I think people [would] threaten me if I take it off.”
In fact, it’s so popular that the ravioli has to be made off-site—Dada is inside the historic 1924 Tarrimore house with a kitchen line only 9 feet long. With such a high demand for the dish, there’s just not the room to properly make it. Instead, the man who supplies Dada with imported Parmesan cheese, olive oil, balsamic and truffle oil also rolls out the homemade dough and stuffs it with a puree of butternut squash, per Feingold’s recipe.
Even though it’s a staple on the menu, it has transformed over the years as the chef plays with flavors and ingredients. He used to serve it with shiitake mushrooms and other winter vegetables, but he switched them out with asparagus and artichokes to lighten the flavors.
“I’ve always said if you’re not evolving, you’re dying,” Feingold says. “We’ve been here 18 years. … You kind of almost reinvent yourself every time you come up with a new dish and get more people excited about it.”
Dada, 52 N. Swinton Ave, Delray Beach; 561/330-3232; sub-culture.org/dada
Basic Pasta Dough:
- 1¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1½ tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup water
- Blend together all dough ingredients in a food processor until mixture just begin to form a ball.
- Knead dough on a lightly floured surface for six to eight minutes, incorporating only as much additional flour as necessary to keep dough from sticking, until smooth and elastic, (Florida weather changes humidity).
- Wrap dough in plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for one hour.
- 1½ pounds butternut squash, halved lengthwise, seeded
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup water
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 tablespoon roasted garlic puree
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Place squash, cut side up, in baking pan.
- Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon and season with salt and pepper and butter.
- Pour ½ cup water into bottom of pan.
- Bake until squash is tender, about one hour. Cool completely.
- Scoop out squash into bowl, mash and transfer to bowl.
- Mix in ricotta, Parmesan, roasted garlic puree and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
- Set aside for stuffing.
Thyme Cream Sauce
Yield: 2 gallons
- ¾ cup shallots, sliced
- 6 bunches thyme, picked off branches
- 8 ounces white wine
- 6 quarts heavy cream
- Salt and pepper
- Sauté shallots and thyme in oil.
- Deglaze with white wine and let reduce.
- Add heavy cream and heat up and season.
- When the sauce is about to over boil, it is done, but be careful not to scorch the bottom.
Making the Dish:
- In a sauté pan, heat a little oil, sauté some fresh sliced shallots until lightly golden brown.
- In the mean time in a pot of boiling salted water, add four large half-moon raviolis.
- At the same time, add a little wine to the shallots to stop them from browning too much, add artichoke hearts in quarters to the pan (we use 6 quarts).
- Add 6 ounces of thyme-cream base sauce and reduce.
- As it is reducing, add asparagus spears to the water with ravioli to cook only for two minutes, this way the asparagus and pasta is all cooked at the same time, a total of five minutes.
- Add fresh diced tomatoes to the cream sauce and grated parmesan cheese to thicken the sauce check for salt and pepper and season as needed.
- Once the pasta and asparagus are ready remove from water with a basket, drain water off, place the four raviolis onto plate in a line.
- Add asparagus over the ravioli in one direction.
- Once sauce is thickened and seasoned to your liking spoon it over the pasta and enjoy!