Beet pasta dough, Italian food, Pasta fatta a mano, Ravioli, Stuffed pasta, Valentine's Day, Vegetarian pasta
La festa di San Valentino is coming up. I love the colour red and any excuse to spread love. I also spent many years on a pediatric heart surgery unit-so hearts are a special shape for me! My nipotine* and I made ravioli rossi a forma di cuore-heart shaped red ravioli so that the whole family can share a fun meal-even though we will not all be together.
The pasta is coloured with beets-not food colouring. This is something I have always wanted to try, even though the thought of staining myself and everything in the kitchen is scary. We adapted my Ravioli con ricotta e spinaci recipe published in the fall. I posted a photo of our ravioli on Facebook and Instagram, and had many requests for the instructions. The adaptations are reviewed here, but you will need to refer to the original post -unless you are already a ravioli making machine.
Start by roasting 4 small or 2 medium beets with a drizzle of olive oil and salt in aluminum foil for at least an hour. Before they cool, remove skin with a paper towel or gloved hands. Chop then puree the beets in a food processor or with an immersion blender.
We made 2 ‘half’ doses of my usual ravioli dough so we could make 2 different shades of red.
125 ml (½ cup) roasted beet puree
250g (almost 2 cups) 00 flour, plus extra
For the lighter colour, we used about 60 ml (¼ cup) beet puree and added an extra egg yolk-although just using less flour is also an option.
Mix the beets and eggs, then add in the middle of the flour, if kneading by hand. I usually knead my dough by hand, but red stained hands did not sound appealing, so I started with the food processor. When the dough is partially mixed and a uniform colour, transfer to a well-floured surface. Knead for 10 min, adding extra flour as needed. The amount of flour will depend on how much moisture is in the beets. I had to add at least an extra 50g (~1/3 cup). The dough should spring back when you stick a finger in it, but not stick to the work surface. It will look and feel like pink play doh! Cover with an upside down bowl and let sit for at least half an hour.
We used the same ricotta filling as in the original post, omitting the spinach and adding the zest of half a lemon for extra flavour. This is enough filling for 2 ‘half’ doses of dough.
When rolling the dough, flour the work surface as needed. If the dough is still too moist to go through the pasta machine, sprinkle with flour before rolling it out-but be careful not to use too much. If the dough is toodry, the 2 pasta sheets will not stick together and the ravioli will open while cooking. Yuck!
Roll the dough to the second thinnest setting on the pasta machine-usually this is a 6. Use a heart shaped tagliabiscotti – a cookie cutter about 6-7 cm (2¼-2¾ inches) wide. It is handy to have a slightly smaller size too, for places where there is not quite enough dough to cut the bigger size. This decreases dough wastage! Press around the filling to remove air before cutting, and seal around the edges with fingers after cutting. Egg white can be brushed along the edges to seal, but I have never found this necessary. If the heart shape is not working for you, a traditional shape looks festive too.
The colour lightens a lot when cooking, so make them as dark as possible! If you do not like beets, not to worry, they add very little taste to the pasta dough.
Each half portion of dough will make about 45 ravioli. Freeze and cook them as described in the original post. Serve with a simple sauce. I heat up olive oil with whole or chopped sage leaves and slivered almonds or hazelnuts. Spoon it on top of the ravioli and sprinkle with Parmigiano Reggiano. Aglio, olio e peperoncinoalso works well, or a light cream sauce with walnuts.
Note-If my instructions are not clear or detailed enough you can link to 2 different, but similar heart shaped beet ravioli recipe posts. If you need a video, watch Gabri’s. It is in Italiano, the visuals are helpful even if you do not understand. For a more professionally presented printable recipe, check out Pina’s post.
Buon appetito e auguri per la festa di San Valentino! Viva l’amore, Cristina
*nipotine means nieces or granddaughters. In this case it means nieces! Grazie Isabella e Francesca!