When Adam and I were dating, we spent our first Valentine’s Day together around the little dining table in my apartment. We were already convinced that we’d rather spend any romantic occasion with just the two of us at home instead of an overcrowded restaurant (a tradition that still holds true today). I remember making an arugula & parmesan salad and butternut squash ravioli with brown butter sauce, plus a chocolate soufflé for dessert (Adam’s fave). There’s something about this ravioli that seems a little fancier than it actually is, and over the years I’ve dialed it in with a few additions like infusing the sauce with sage and adding walnuts for the perfect toasty flavor. For the next post in our series with California Walnuts, I’m sharing my updated recipe, and I think you’re going to love it. Keep reading to see how this Butternut Squash Ravioli with Walnuts, Sage, & Orange Brown Butter comes together in a flash.

photos by kristen kilpatrick

Yep, this recipe uses store-bought ravioli because (a) it saves me tons of time in the kitchen to not have to roll out my own ravioli, and (b) most groceries sell high quality brands in the refrigerated section that are super delicious, which makes it a one-stop shopping trip when buying the California Walnuts and rest of the ingredients. Of course, you can totally make your own if you want this to be more of an “enjoy the process” kind of cooking experience, but why not put your energy towards perfecting this sauce – and maybe whipping up a fancy dessert afterwards?

Brown butter is a beautiful thing. It’s basically just butter cooked in a skillet until it starts to turn golden and toasty… and the only thing better than simple brown butter is when it’s infused with warming autumn flavors like sage and orange. Try this sauce over sautéed brussels sprouts, or roast spaghetti squash and toss the strands with it for a delicious grain-free “pasta.”

Although this dish is best served straight away when it’s ready, you can prep everything in advance if you’re having friends over. Chop your sage and walnuts, zest the orange, and cook and drain the ravioli before anyone shows up, then toss it all together on the stove while your guests are amazed by your pro moves.

Walnuts add the perfect crunch and even more golden nutty flavor to this dish. I like to toss half of them into the sauce, and save the other half to add right at the end so they’re really visible and pretty on top of the dish. With a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds and shower of parmesan, you’ve got yourself a showstopper.

By the way, if you’re cooking for vegetarians, this is a great holiday party entrée to serve since it’s still totally satisfying for everyone, and even feels a little indulgent. So many of the big holiday meals are centered around meat, and your veg friends will be sooo excited that they can actually dig right into the main course.

Why not start the meal with these Burrata Toasts with Caramelized Walnuts and Mint-Pomegranate Pesto I shared last week? And stay tuned for more festive ideas in our holiday series with the California Walnuts coming up, including savory dinner recipes, an apple cider bar, and a gorgeous holiday gathering!

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Walnuts, Sage & Orange Brown Butter

Serves 6


Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time: 10 mins | Total time: 20 mins
Serving Size: About 3/4 cup ravioli

  • 2 9-ounce packages refrigerated butternut squash ravioli (or your favorite variety)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup California walnuts, divided
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1/4 cup fresh sage leaves
  • 2 oranges
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds optional garnish

  1. Preheat oven to 375 °F.
  2. Put on a large pot of salted water to boil, then cook butternut squash ravioli according to package directions. Drain, then toss lightly with olive oil.
  3. Meanwhile, spread out walnuts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and toast in oven for about 8 minutes, until lightly golden and starting to become fragrant. Remove, then roughly chop and set aside.
  4. Melt the butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add sage and let cook until the butter starts to brown, about 3 minutes. Add zest and juice of orange and 1/2 cup of the toasted walnuts and cook until warmed through. Turn the heat off and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Gently transfer the ravioli to a serving platter and top with the brown butter sauce, letting all the sage and walnuts fall over the top of the pasta. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, remaining 1/4 cup toasted walnuts, and pomegranate seeds (optional) and serve.
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