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Beet Ravioli with ricotta and goat cheese filling

 Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and this recipe is perfect for winning over the hearts (and stomachs) of your loved ones. Or just treat yourself to a special home made meal. You deserve it! The ravioli dough is made with beets, although it hardly retains any of the beet flavor. But it does look rather festive, and was a good way for me to salvage some of the beets I had dreadfully overcooked this past weekend. You see, I planned to make pickled beets and I placed the beets to cook atop the stove in a pot of water. I like to undercook beets since they get cooked a bit more in the pickling process, and I prefer some “bite” to the finished product. But I left the house to see the HD performance of “Carmen” live from the Met, and forgot about the pot simmering on the stove. I didn’t realize it until nearly three hours later, well after Carmen entices Don Jose with her guiles, but before he gets his revenge on the alluring gypsy.

You know it’s verboten to phone or text in the theater during a performance, but I covered by head and torso with my jacket and texted my husband to ask him to immediately drain the water from the beets. Thank goodness for husbands who are loyal to their alma mater and stay home to watch the basketball game on TV. Go Pirates!

I know it could have been avoided had I roasted the beets, but I always have trouble peeling beets when I roast them. Besides, I might have forgotten them in the oven and come home to dehydrated, or worse, burnt spheres of my favorite root vegetable.

So anyway, here I was with lots of mushy beets to use up. I’ve always wanted to try making pasta with beets so this gave me the perfect excuse. Let’s get started.

Whiz the beets in a food processor until smooth.

Add the eggs, flour and other ingredients. I used 00 flour, the kind that Italians traditionally use for making pasta. If you don’t have it, use regular flour, or add some semolina flour to regular flour. However, it’s easy enough to find 00 flour online, if you don’t have an Italian grocery store, or specialty food shop near you.

The dough is stickier than normal pasta dough – possibly because of those darn overcooked and water-logged beets of mine. So I had to knead in a little more flour on the wooden board. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest for at least an hour.

I placed the dough through the pasta machine, spreading a little more flour over the dough each time I passed it through a different thickness. Using a heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out the heart shapes.

Place a tablespoon of filling over each heart and then using your finger, or a small paint brush, brush a little water around the perimeter of each one. By the way, the goat cheese adds a nice tang to the ricotta and the lemon zest brings a nice “brightness” to it. Don’t skimp on the fresh thyme or the grating of nutmeg either. It’s a delicious combination of flavors.

Cover with a second piece of the pasta, and crimp the edges with a fork.

This dough recipe makes enough for about four dozen ravioli, but frankly, I was getting hungry and wanted to get moving with dinner. So I stopped at about two dozen ravioli and made fettuccine with the rest of the dough. I had some leftover filling, but I’ll use it in a frittata.

Boil the ravioli in abundant, salted water. These were ready in only three or four minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the butter, and add the thyme and hazelnuts. When the ravioli are cooked, transfer them with a slotted spoon or spider to the pan with the butter and hazelnuts. Don’t drain the pasta really well; It’s good if a little water comes along to add to the sauce.

Carefully spoon the pasta into a heated dish and sprinkle some parmesan cheese over everything.

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone!

 

Click here to find out what’s cooking in Ciao Chow Linda’s kitchen each day (and more).

Image result for hearts

Beet Ravioli with ricotta and goat cheese filling
 
Author:
Recipe type: Pasta - First Course
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 3-4 dozen ravioli
Ingredients
  • FOR THE PASTA:
  • two medium beets (or about 8 ounces pureed beets)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 large whole eggs
  • about 2½ cups 00 flour
  • salt, to taste
  • FOR THE FILLING:
  • ¾ cup ricotta cheese, drained (preferably overnight)
  • 5 ounces soft goat cheese
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
  • grated rind of one lemon
  • salt, pepper and the grating of a bit of fresh nutmeg
  • FOR THE SAUCE:
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • ⅓ cup roughly chopped hazelnuts
  • parmesan cheese, for sprinkling
Instructions
  1. TO MAKE THE PASTA:
  2. Cook the beets, either by boiling or roasting.
  3. Once they are cool, remove the skin and puree the beets in a food processor until smooth.
  4. Add the salt, and eggs to the beet puree in the food processor, then start adding the flour a little at a time, until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the food processor bowl.
  5. Remove it onto a well-floured board and knead until smooth and it loses its "stickiness."
  6. Wrap in plastic wrap and let it rest for at least an hour.
  7. TO MAKE THE FILLING:
  8. Drain the ricotta overnight or at least an hour, to remove some of the water.
  9. Place the cheeses and other ingredients in a food processor and mix.
  10. MAKING AND ASSEMBLING THE RAVIOLI:
  11. Cut the dough into four parts and work with one of the pieces, keeping the rest covered.
  12. Run the dough through the pasta machine, flattening and flouring each piece as you go along. Start with the widest setting , dusting the dough each time you feed it through a narrower setting.
  13. On my KitchenAid pasta machine, I stopped at the number four setting.
  14. Using a heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out heart shapes, then fill with a tablespoon of the cheese filling.
  15. Moisten the edges of the pasta, then place another heart shaped pasta piece on top of the filling.
  16. Crimp the edges with a fork.
  17. Drop into boiling, salted water and cook until the pasta is al dente. For me, this took only about three to four minutes.
  18. TO MAKE THE SAUCE:
  19. Meanwhile, melt the butter in another saucepan, add the thyme and the hazelnuts.
  20. When the pasta is cooked, using a slotted spoon or "spider" drop them into the pan with the butter and hazelnuts.
  21. Don't worry if the pasta is not totally drained. A little water is needed to help make the sauce.
  22. After all the ravioli are in the saucepan, gently toss them to disperse the butter, nuts and thyme.
  23. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve.

Winter Veggies

Winter Veggies

I’ll be the first to tell you that I adore spring and all that comes with it – robins, hyacinths, strawberries and so much more. Summer is also a delight since I love to garden, swim and visit the seashore. The Fall is a stunner here too with glorious foliage, pumpkin stands and apple festivals. But winter calls to me as well, even with the cold weather and barren trees in the Northeast U.S.  Aside from transportation problems (like being stuck in Chicago during a snowstorm last weekend), winter presents opportunities for skiing, for hunkering down by the fire with a good book, and for cooking soups, stews and vegetables associated with cold weather, like the three I’m presenting in this post.
This broccoli romanesco is one of them. I admit, it’s not easy to find where I live, so when I saw it last week at the local health food store, I all but clapped my hands in jubilation. It’s something that omnipresent in Italian food markets, but for some reason, it’s not as well known here. I hope that’s about to change. I’ve told you about it before when my blog was fairly new, on a post you can find here, featuring pasta and broccoli romanesco. But this time I wanted to cook it whole and drizzle it with olive oil, red pepper flakes, garlic, salt and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. Nestled into polenta, it made a satisfying vegetarian lunch.

 

 

Here’s what it looks like inside. Even though its name is broccoli romanesco, the taste is closer to cauliflower than broccoli.

 

Beets are another one of my favorites – whether cold in a salad – or warm in a sauce with orange segments. Be warned that the orange segments will turn pink once the beet sauce hits them.

 

See…..I told ya’. But they’re kind of pretty that way too.

 

OK, now here’s the morning quiz for you. What’s this vegetable? Trick question.

 

They look like parsnips, right? Well that would have been a good guess, but they’re not. They’re parsley root – something I had never heard of much less cooked. So naturally I had to try them. The taste is vaguely reminiscent of parsley – but more like a carrot crossed with celery. Apparently, parsley root has lots of salubrious properties. (That means it’s good for you.) It’s a blood purifier, a diuretic, useful in liver and gall bladder problems and helps prevent flatulence (you can look that up yourself.)
I sliced them up like French fries, tossed them with olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary and roasted them at a high heat.

 

 

Maybe I left them in a bit too long on one side, but they were delicious nonetheless. Who says that French fries have to be made just with potatoes?

Printable recipes here

Broccoli Romanesco


Trim the bottom leaves off, then cut a little bit into the core from the bottom, to help it cook more evenly. Place a little water in a saucepan – enough so that it comes up about 1/2 inch. Then place the entire head of the broccoli romanesco into the water. Cover and cook for about five to ten minutes, testing to pierce with a fork. It should not be crunchy, but soft enough to pierce easily. In a separate saucepan, heat 2 T. olive oil with a clove of garlic, a dash of red pepper flakes. Add some salt and pepper, then pour over the head of broccoli romano that you serve over polenta, noodles, or just by itself. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Beets and Orange Sauce


Boil or roast one large beet or two small beets until tender. (To roast, rub with oil and put in a small oven-proof dish at 350 degrees, checking after 45 minutes to see if it’s cooked.) Peel the outer skin off the beet (I do this on a dish, not on my cutting board, since it’s so hard to get the stain off wood, but easy to clean a plate.) Slice the beet. In a small saucepan, place 1/4 cup orange juice, 1/2 tsp. butter, 2 T. red wine vinegar (or sherry vinegar or white vinegar). Add the sliced beets and heat them together with the liquids. In a small cup, mix 1 t. cornstarch with a 2 T. water. Add to the beets and heat until the sauce thickens. If it’s too thick, add more water or some more orange juice. Section one large orange and just before serving, stir them into the warm beets. Warning: If you do this more than a minute or two before serving, the oranges will disintegrate into the sauce.

Parsley Root Fries


Trim the parsley root and peel the outer layer. Slice into matchsticks and place on a cookie sheet. Dribble a little olive oil over them, give them a good shake of salt and pepper, then sprinkle some chopped rosemary over them. Roast at 425 degrees, checking after 5 minutes. Turn them over and roast another 5 minutes, or until browned.