I try to be open-minded about what I eat, and, with the exception of eggplant (which makes me ill) and meat (obviously), there isn’t really anything I won’t eat. However, there are a lot of foods that I don’t eat, either because I’m not familiar with them (what do you do with dragon fruit?), or because “everyone” hates them (brussels sprouts). I’m trying to broaden my food-tastes, and since a friend keeps bringing up how delicious beets are, I decided to start with them.My only prior experience with beets was a few years ago, when we were part of a CSA (community supported agriculture), and we got a lot of beets. After making harvard beets (which pair surprisingly well with Indian food – like a chutney), and trying beet chips (which no-one liked), we used all the rest of the beets to make a beet, orange and goat cheese salad that was recommended by the CSA farmer, and was tolerated, if not liked, by the household. None of these were particularly exciting recipes, and all of them were overwhelmingly beety. Once the supply of beets dried up, I saw no reason to purchase more.
When I decided to put more beets in my diet, I knew I had to find a fun recipe, and pair the beets with foods that would reduce their beety taste. I actually came across beet ravioli when I was trying to decide what to do with the poppy seed filling (many people toss beet pasta with poppy seed butter), and I love making pasta, so I thought this would be a good way to re-introduce beets into my life.
The pasta was a great success! Goat cheese pairs well with the earthy flavor of beets, while preventing the beet flavor from becoming overwhelming. Eaten this way, I found beets to be a very cozy food. Plus, beets make everything so pink! If I had only known how pink I could make my food, I would have started using beets a long time ago. Now, maybe I should figure out what to do with dragon fruit…
Inspired by Reclaiming Provincial’s Beet & Chevre Ravioli
Beets are pink! Luckily they did not stain my countertop, but that does not mean they won’t stain yours, and they will definitely stain clothes. Wear an apron, and make the pasta on a cutting board if you have a porous countertop.
At the moment I don’t have a pasta roller, and rolling out by hand I could only get 10 (large) ravioli, which was enough for two people. With a pasta roller, you can get the pasta quite a bit thinner, and serve more people.
The most efficient use of your dough is to make square ravioli – I just wanted to make hearts because they were pink. Use whatever shape makes you happy.
I use beet powder to color the pasta dough, which you can find in the bulk herb section of most natural foods stores. Alternatively, you can wrap the mashed cooked beets in cheese cloth and squeeze them to remove the juice, and use that to color your pasta, or leave it white.
To help keep the pasta pinker, boil it in beet-infused water, otherwise it will lose a lot of color.
1 1/2 – 2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp beet powder
2 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp oil (or more water)
1/2 onion, chopped
4 oz goat cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh dill
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp butter
1 cup milk
1/4 parmesan cheese
2 tsp fresh dill
1/2 tsp nutmeg
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350
First, roast the beets. Trim the greens and the ends off the beets and place in a baking dish with the chopped onions. Sprinkle with dill, salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until fork tender, 1 – 1 1/2 hours. Save the beet trimmings to dye the pasta water.
Meanwhile, make the pasta. Combine the eggs, beet powder and salt. Mound up 1 1/2 cups of flour on your counter (or cutting board if your counter is prone to staining) and make a well in the center. Pour half of the egg mixture in and stir until it is no longer runny. Fix the integrity of your flour volcano and add the rest of the eggs, stirring until you’ve brought in as much flour as you can.
Knead the dough, adding additional flour if necessary until the dough is smooth and elastic, 4-5 minutes. I like to pour a small amount of olive oil on my hand and continue kneading for another minute or so – this makes the dough more silky, and easier to handle (this is a matter of personal preference and not a necessary step). Place the dough in a ziplock bag and set aside to rest for at least 15 minutes.
Once the beets are cooked, allow them to cool a bit and then peel them. Mash them and the onions together in a large bowl. Stir in the goat cheese and minced garlic, then add dill, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Roll out two sheets of pasta as thin as you can. On the first sheet, press your cookie-cutter into the dough to mark the ravioli, and put a tablespoon of filling in the center of each one. Use your finger to spread water around the edge of the ravioli, then lay the second pasta sheet on top, pressing the two layers together, then cut out the ravioli, and use a fork to more tightly seal the edges. Place the finished ravioli on a wax-paper lined cookie sheet. Gather up the scraps of pasta and continue making ravioli until you run out. You can freeze the pasta if you’re not planning to cook it right away. I always do this.
Put a large pot of water on to boil. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a small sauce pan, then whisk in the flour and cook until it no longer smells raw, 3-4 minutes. Slowly stir in the milk and cook over medium heat until thickened. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, nutmeg and dill, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside
To help keep the ravioli brightly colored, toss your beet trimmings in the boiling water for a few minutes until it turns pink (or you can pour in some beet juice or use beet powder). Boil the ravioli, in batches if necessary, until it floats on the surface 3-4 minutes if fresh, 6 or more if frozen. Remove with a slotted spoon and top with the sauce.