My First Week in Fargo and a Fall Recipe: Winter Squash Ravioli, Savory or Spicy.

I am still surrounded by boxes.  
However, we finally uncovered my pots, pans, and cooking utensils.  And I am working up increasing energy to cook and explore.
Jake finally excavated his pack of New Glarus Black Top.  Ever since the movers stealthily packed Jake’s Black Top, he has been faithfully searching our mound of identical, vaguely-labeled boxes for this beer.  Man cave intact and special Wisconsin beer, it goes without saying that Jake is a happy boy.  
Jeni’s first week thoughts on Fargo  
There’s no rush hour and I love it.  Unlike the Twin Cities, where average drives range from 15-30 minutes, the average Fargo-Moorhead drive seems to be 5-10 minutes.  Today was the first day I needed to hop onto a freeway.  Maybe it will get old after a while, but for now I’m thrilled.  I think I needed a time out from the Twin Cities’ 90-minute commutes through rush hour traffic dotted with construction projects.  
I can walk to a gas station, pharmacy, restaurant, and liquor store.  Initially, I thought I’d hate it.  As a matter of fact, it’s kind of growing on me.
The wind is already brutal.  I ambitiously went for a chilly morning run.  Part way through, I realized this was a mistake.  Hence, the lack of anyone else going for a morning job.  I should probably locate my winter gear.  And a gym.  
I keep getting trapped by trains.  
A few years ago, I lived in an apartment by the Greenway, near the NW side of Lake Calhoun.  I missed the memo about the train tracks running behind the small building.  I must have lost a year off my life when I was jolted out of bed one early morning, to the sounds of a train rattling through my back yard.  “Rattling” does not even remotely capture the extent of the train’s noise.  The clanging, apartment-shaking, otherworldly, screechy sounds that conjured images of a dying, tortured whale. A giant, suffering whale, releasing shrieks of agony for 15 minutes at a time.  
While driving around Fargo, I keep getting stuck at railroad tracks as trains cross the city.  And so I wait.  Though I nearly lost my damn mind in disbelief when the never-ending train stopped.
Just yesterday, I received a speeding ticket while I was lost in West Fargo looking for oil.  My first ever speeding ticket in ten years of driving.  Overwhelmed with our recent move, perpetual lostness, and life in boxes, I cried like a baby.  The officer softens, welcomes me to Fargo, and offers to point me in the direction of my new home.  After handing me the ticket.  
Today, I lick my wounds over an incredible brie and cranberry stuffed croissant from Nichole’s Fine Pastry.  I love the whole, tart cranberries that balance the pastry and brie’s buttery richness.  As good as any croissant I’ve savored at Rustica or Patisserie 46 back in the Twin Cities.    
Curry Semi-fail
To stock my kitchen, I’ve been making my rounds to the local markets including Tochi’s, Swanson’s, the Asian and American Market, F M International Food, Somali Business Center, and The Lotus Blossom
The owner of The Lotus Blossom patiently assisted me in choosing the ingredients to make an authentic Massaman curry.  In a friendly manner, I was chided for my past curry-cheating ways.  In my haste to be authentic, I butcher the whole chicken the owner places in my hands.  Literally and figuratively.  My attempt to dismember a whole chicken with crappy knives was a hideous, splattering mess that tasted even worse.  However, the curry sauce was amazing.  I’m ready to accept my butchering weakness by asking for more assistance and revising the method with which I cook my protein.  Then, and only then, will I post my improved curry method on the High Plains Reader, thanks to The Lotus Blossom.  
Fall Recipes Published in the High Plains Reader
Check out my following recipes for variations of roasted squash stuffed ravioli that were published in the High Plains Reader, October 20, 2011.
Eat Your Halloween Decorations: Winter Squash Ravioli

By Jeni Hill

Foods Editor

During the fall, mushy summer squash makes room for their sturdier winter counterparts. Butternut, acorn, spaghetti squash and even your child’s Halloween pumpkin are commonplace at farmers markets and grocery stores. If you are feeling especially deviant, you could literally transform your family’s grinning pumpkins into pie or a lovely soufflé.

Despite my inevitable dread of winter, I perk at the sight of creamy squash soups and squash-filled ravioli on fall menus. I made a classic pumpkin-spiced ravioli topped with a browned butter and sage sauce, and a spicier variation seasoned with chipotle pepper and cilantro.

Making ravioli can be a time-consuming and delicate process, even when using wonton wrappers, but the filling can be pre-made or frozen for later use. Friends and family can expedite the process by assembling ravioli. If you are feeling ambitious, by all means make your own pasta dough. I was satisfied with the wonton wrappers available at most supermarkets and Asian markets. Refrigerated varieties can be found in the produce section.

Most winter squashes make an excellent filling, and half a squash will probably fill only one package of wrappers. Enjoy excess roasted squash topped with melted butter and brown sugar, or sautéed in a pan with salt and pepper alongside toast and a runny egg.

To season the filling, begin with one-two pinches or sprinkles (or 1/8 teaspoon) of each spice and taste throughout the process. Even if your ravioli fuse together or you accidentally add an extra pinch of cinnamon, the ravioli will still taste wonderful and you can always adjust your seasonings.           


1 winter squash (I used butternut)



Black pepper



White pepper

Ricotta cheese

1 package of wonton wrappers

1 egg, beaten (to seal edges of the ravioli)

1 stick of butter

Fresh sage, either chopped or left whole

Grated Parmesan


To make the filling:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a sheet tray with foil.
Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds with a spoon.  Coat with oil, salt, and pepper and lay on the sheet tray.  

Bake until tender, flipping occasionally.  My butternut squash took about an hour while an acorn squash roasted much longer.

Scoop the squash from its skin and place in a bowl.  Add approximately 1/8 teaspoon each of white pepper, nutmeg, and cinnamon.  Add about a teaspoon of honey.  Taste and add salt, or more spices or honey as needed.  Incorporate approximately 1/3 cup of ricotta.  Again, taste and season.


If using frozen wonton wrappers, thaw before using.  Beat one egg and set aside. Boil a pot of salted water.

Place about a spoonful of filling on each wrapper without overfilling.  Using your finger, rub the egg wash on each edge of the wrapper.   Place a second wrapper on top and gently press to flatten and seal the edges.  Seal each edge with a fork.

Place the filled raviolis on a dry surface.  Cover with a damp towel.

Melt the butter in a pan over gentle heat.  When foamy, add shallot and sage.  Cook until the butter browns and add salt as needed.  If your sage or butter seem like it might burn, remove from burner or reduce heat.

Place the ravioli in the boiling water and gently stir.  When they float, remove, and place on oiled trays or directly into the browned butter. Remove the ravioli quickly for al dente pasta.  Cooked ravioli will stick together if they overlap and cool.

Toss ravioli with the browned butter, or spoon on top of the pasta.  Garnish with black pepper, sea salt, and parmesan.

Serves three-four.

Spicy version:
Add minced chipotle in adobo sauce to the squash mixture above.  This canned chili is widely available at grocery stores.  Chipotle is spicy, so gradually add the chili and its sauce to taste.  Fill and boil as above.

Instead of using sage in the browned butter sauce, add a handful of chopped cilantro and shallot to the butter when it’s foaming and beginning to brown.  Sprinkle with sea salt and garnish with fresh limejuice.


  1. liz@carpeseason

    Bwahaha – your awakend-by-a-train story made me laugh so hard. Love it…good luck with the speeding tickets and the wind – Fargo can be tough that way…Never made ravioli before. I’ll have to give this a try this fall!

  2. Anonymous

    Tochi’s has been around forever! My mom took me shopping there when I was a kid, I still remember the spicy smell. Hope you like the Fargo-Moorhead area, it will average 10 degrees colder than the Twin Cities this winter. 🙂

  3. Jen

    I love Tochi’s. It reminds me of the Wedge co-op. Got to find my winter gear!

  4. Jen

    And thanks for the well wishes Liz.

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