Thursday, April 11, 2013

Beet & Sweet Potato Ravioli

I have known Danielle from Baked Soap Co. and Sweet & Splendid Bakeshop for years now, but it wasn't until we got together for a macaron making day that we realized just how much we have in common. I love finding interesting new people to share my love of cooking with, and it seemed Danielle shared that same love. Before hugging each other goodbye after she had taught me to make Chocolate Peanut Butter Macarons in her home, we promised that we would get together again soon for a pasta making day. While Danielle is a natural when it comes to baking and had many things to teach me, I seem to be the more comfortable 'Danielle' when it comes to cooking! I invited Danielle into my home for a lesson on how to make fresh, homemade pasta. Two passionate Danielle's in the kitchen may sound like a disaster waiting to happen, but it turned out to be a fantastic experience, with incredibly delicious results! 
Wanting to make things a little more interesting, and make the production more suited to two people, we decided to make ravioli. Because I had made ravioli in the past, I wanted to take things a step further and experiment with making a type of pasta that I was not yet familiar with, beet pasta! To be honest, I didn't care at all if the beets added any additional flavour to the pasta sheets, it was the stunning ruby red colour I was after! That shocking bright red is beautiful in the pasta, but note that if you don't want your fingertips stained that same red, you probably want to buy yourself some latex gloves when peeling the beets and kneading the dough. I, on the other hand, embrace those red fingertips as marks of honor!
Although we made up the recipe for our orange sweet potato filling (I was all about colour that week!), we found a recipe for Beet Pasta by Martha Stewart that we decided to follow...even though we rarely trust Martha recipes, and we both believe that Martha secretly leaves out one ingredient in each recipe to make sure no one can live up to her success. Despite our mutual trust issues with Martha Stewart recipes, and the fact that we were short on time and only rested out dough for about 40-minutes, the pasta turned out fantastic! We crated a very simple filling featuring roasted sweet potatoes, fresh ricotta, salt and pepper, and topped our little red pasta pockets in an olive and walnut oil mixture and lightly toasted pine nuts. Before digging in, Danielle asked if I had any good balsamic vinegar to lightly drizzle over her serving. I have to say, I thought it was a bit of a strange request at first, thinking that the filling should shine through on its own, but after trying my first bite, I realized that a very light drizzle of really good quality, aged balsamic vinegar was exactly what our pasta needed! The vinegar cut through the sweetness of the filling, adding another dimension to the final dish. By the end of our ravioli-making-mission, as we sprawled out on the couch, eating the fruits of our labour, we were smiling ear-to-ear, so incredibly proud of the dish we had created together. After having so much success we would be crazy to stop there. We are currently planning our next cooking day together, this time taking on Mexican cuisine by making fried fish tacos, a recipe that Danielle has experience with making! I can't wait to get in the kitchen with my new foodie buddy again and tell you all about our tasty results! 

* To save on time and energy roast sweet potatoes and beets at the same time!

2 medium-sized sweet potatoes
1 shallot, minced
1/2 cup ricotta
olive oil, for roasting & cooking
salt and pepper, to taste

2 medium-sized beets (equals 2 cups pureed), trimmed
1 1/2 cups flour, plus more for dusting
2 eggs
2 egg yolks, separated (one for dough, one for assembly)
1 tsp salt

pine nuts, toasted
olive oil
walnut oil
parmesano reggiano, grated
good quality, aged balsamic vinegar

  1. *Cut sweet potatoes in half lengthwise and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and place on baking sheet flesh-side down. Bake at 375º for about 30-minutes, or until tender when inserted into the centre with a fork.  Let cool.
  2. Once sweet potatoes are cooled, scoop out the flesh of the potato into the bowl of a food processor. Heat about 1 tbsp olive oil at medium heat in a small sauté pan, add shallots and cook until translucent. Add to bowl of food processor. Add the ricotta, taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside until ready to use.
Pasta & Assembly
  1. *Coat beets in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Wrap tightly in aluminum foil and place on baking sheet. Bake at 375º for about 1 hour or until beets are tender when inserted into the centre with a fork. Let cool. Rub beets with paper towels to remove skins. Puree in food processor (you should have 1/2 cup puree).
  2. Add eggs and one yolk to beet puree in food processor, and process until combined. Add flour and 1 heaping teaspoon salt and process until dough just comes together, about 20 seconds. 
  3. Transfer dough to a well-floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes), adding up to 2-tablespoons flour if dough is sticky. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and rest for at least 45-minutes (if you have the time, rest for 2 hours). 
  4. Tear off a baseball-sized piece of dough, and recover remaining dough with plastic wrap. Flatten dough into an oblong shape. Dust dough very lightly with flour and feed dough slowly through the pasta machines widest setting. Turn the dial to the next narrower setting and feed dough through. Continue this, turning the dial to a finer setting each time until you have fed the dough through the finest setting. You may feed the dough through each setting twice. 
  5. Lay dough sheet out on a clean, dry towel. Fold dough in half and cut into approximate squares (don't worry if they're not perfect, I like the rustic shapes). Place remaining egg yolk in a small bowl and lightly beat. Place filling in a pastry bag and pipe about a teaspoon of filling into the centre of half of the squares of dough. Lightly brush edges of squares with egg yolk. Place the remaining dough pieces on top and pinch dough to close, being careful to squeeze out any air bubbles inside. Dip prongs of a fork into flour and scallop edges. Set aside on a baking sheet to "dry". Continue with remaining dough and filling.
  6. When all dough has been turned into ravioli, fill a large pot with heavily-salted water and bring to a boil. Boil ravioli for 4 minutes, being sure not to crowd pot. Drain. 
  7. In medium-large saucepan heat desired amount of olive oil and walnut oil. Add cooked ravioli and toss in oil to coat. Plate, and top with pine nuts and a light drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Serve immediately. 
Listening To:
Kurt Vile - Baby's Arms

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