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.
-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!) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JqOdwrogVU 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.