Saturday, October 07, 2006

Ravioli di Barbabietola, Ricotta e Parmigiano

Yep, that acid-pink blob of yesterday's dinner was indeed the filling for Beet ravioli. So many of you were so close, I was impressed! (Lotus, what's pachadi?) I found some irresistable beets with lovely beet greens in the market and was inspired to make ravioli out of them. The beet greens, see here are a lovely color-contrast accompaniment. This is not, however the traditional Veneto specialty called "Casumziei", with it's butter-and-poppyseed sauce, but it's very close.

Filling ingredients:
-12 oz roasted, peeled beets (in Italy, beets often come pre-roasted and peeling is very easy)
-1/4 tsp salt
-12 oz ricotta cheese
-1/2 cup freshly-grated parmesan (probably less with pre-grated as I imagine it packs up a bit)
-salt and pepper to taste

Cut the beets into 1 inch chunks and place in a food processor. Pulse the processor until you have a deep red granularity that looks a lot like chunky cranberry sauce. Do not puree!! Remove from processor and mix in the 1/4 tsp salt, place in a sieve or collander, and let drain for 2 hours. After that time (actually over the 2 hours, you can make your pasta), place in a mixing bowl, add the cheeses and combine. (This is the point where your lush, rich red beets transform into whacked-out, bubblegum pink gloop, but take heart! It gets a lot better and tastier from here! Add salt and pepper to taste (Yes! You DO have to taste the pink stuff!) Refrigerate covered until your pasta is ready for filling.

Homemade pasta ingredients: (they say that if you don't want to make your own pasta, you can use store-bought won-ton wrappers. Can't confirm, but it's worth a try)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup semolina flour
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp salt

Combine the flours and salt in a large bowl & make a well in the middle. Pour in the beaten eggs and begin whisking them with a fork gently at first, slowly incorporating a little bit of the surrounding flour mixture at a time. Once you have incorporated most of the flour, you can begin to knead with your hands. Knead only until everything is uniformly mixed. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.

Ravioli assembly line:
Have at the ready: beet filling, pasta dough covered with plastic wrap, a small bowl of water and a pasta machine (oh, didn't I mention that you need one of those?)

When your beet mixture and pasta dough are ready, set your pasta rolling machine to the widest setting (for me that's setting 1). Cut off a piece of the dough that's roughly the size of 2 decks of cards, mush it as flat as you can between your palms and roll it through the rollers. Dredge in flour and proceed to setting 2 and so forth until you get to setting 6 (the second thinnest). You should have a very very long oval shaped piece of dough. Lay that out and slice laterally every 2.5-3 inches to make 7 or 8 small rectangles. Place a generous teaspoon of the filling on to one side of the rectangle, wet the 3 edges around it and fold over the other side. Press to seal making sure to press out any air bubbles. At this point, ravioli freeze very well and I usually make a few dinners-worth at a time to use later.

Finishing the ravioli:
When it's time for dinner, for every 5 ravioli, place 1 tablespoon of butter and 2 medium sage leaves in a frying pan. (I usually end up putting in 3 tbsps of butter and 6 sage leaves with 15 ravioli for 2 people). You may serve this as the sauce once it is heated through but I really like to fry the sage leaves until they are crispy. This is the most delicious snack I can think of! Crispy-fried sage leaves, mmm.
Bring a large pot of water to the boil and gently drop the ravioli in a couple at a time making sure they don't stick. Bring the water back up to a light boil as soon as possible. Cook until they are all trying to float on top of the water and have puffed. Drain and transfer to the frying pan with the sage-butter sauce. (Take out crispy sage leaves before, or you'll just get them soggy again under the ravioli.)
Flip the pan a couple times and serve. Wilted beet greens (made just like the spinach at the bottom of this page) make a lovely accompaniment.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

But ... but ... you haven't given your home address!

How else will I find you so that I can eat this ravioli???

11:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not the world's biggest fan of beets, but I'd definetely be willing to give these a try! And Ivonne is right, we need an address if we're going to converge on you to taste a couple of these morsels ;)

11:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Ivonne and Ellie, I think we need an invitation to dinner sometime! :)))

Pachadi usually refers to a salad mixed with curd. The beetroot or whatever vegetable you're using, is usually grated, seasonings are added (usually mustard seeds, ginger and curry leaves) and finally it's mixed with cold curd and/or buttermilk. Delicious on a hot summer's day.

9:20 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hey Ivonne, Ellie and Lotus, I know you're all intercontinental so dinner will have to wait 'til you get here! But seriously, if any of you do vacation in Italy at any point in the future, I expect a call!

Lotus, so you basically guessed right at the first guess! More or less pachadi and ravioli filling (at least this one) are analogous (ok, ok, there's only salt & black pepper to spice up this, but still...)

10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've seen those pre-roasted beets that you're talking about and never gave a thought to buying one to make things easier. I notice that they're usually next to the roasted onions. Lovely dinner and now you've got me curious about the casumziei link!

10:52 AM  
Blogger a.c.t. said...

I haven't tried making ravioli yet, but I will get round to it one day. I only got round to making pizza from scratch for the first time a couple of weeks ago, but I will make it my priority.

4:46 PM  
Blogger Brilynn said...

Homemade beet ravioli, it looks very tasty! -and colourful!

4:59 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Rowena, Yeah, I'm not enough of a beet person to be able to distinguish a pre-roasted (less fresh) one from a fresh one. Let me know if you make the the Casumziei

Hi a.c.t., If you do make ravioli, try to get friends to come over and help you! The assembly line/gossip circle is very conducive to not getting into a bad mood spending so much time of these things.

Hi Brilynn, Thanks for stopping by!

6:59 PM  
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