{recipe} beetroot ravioli with homemade pasta

Making your own pasta can be fraught with mess. Flour gets stuck in those little cracks between the bench and the wall, your jeans get caked {aprons in the wash} and there’s lots of wondering whether it’s worth it. But of course it is, especially when you omit the step of cutting the pasta into matchstick-thick spaghetti or ribbons of pappardelle. Get the pasta impossibly thin here, trust me on this. You want that beetroot to shine through the transparent pasta sheet and you don’t want the joined pasta around the edge to be thick when pressed together. The beetroot (beet) element in this Beetroot Ravioli recipe is easy {recipe after the jump}. I add quite a bit of nutmeg because it’s heaven. And when the whole dish is topped with a knob of butter instead of the olive oil, that’s just pretty fabulous really. These recipes appear in my new book After Toast: recipes for aspiring cooks, which just came out this month.

Beetroot ravioli

I only first made a dish along these lines quite recently—so you’re already a few steps ahead of me if you do these now. I’d written an article for Sunday Life magazine about how hard chefs’ recipes really are, and this one involved a recipe by Lucio Galletto and David Dale. A friend and I expected this recipe to be really difficult to make, but it turned out to be totally do-able. I’ve simplified and tweaked it a bit, but the result is a very pretty, very chef-like, and very impressive ravioli.

1 portion basic pasta dough
extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
fresh herbs (such as chervil or parsley), for sprinkling
shavings of parmesan cheese, to serve

Beetroot filling

500 g (1 lb 2 oz) beetroot (beets)
40 g (1 1/2 oz) butter, melted
2 tbsp dry breadcrumbs
1/3 cup (80 g/ 2 3/4 oz) ricotta cheese
1 egg
freshly grated nutmeg, to taste

Roll pasta dough into very thin sheets, using the thinnest possible setting on the pasta machine. Make each sheet about the same size and shape. Set aside.

Next, make the beetroot fi lling. Put beetroot in a saucepan, cover with cold water, bring to the boil and cook for 25 minutes, or until a knife can be easily inserted all the way through. Drain beetroot and allow to cool a little, then slip off and discard skins. Roughly chop beetroot.

Place beetroot in a food processor with remaining filling ingredients. Process to form a slightly lumpy paste. Allow to rest for 5 minutes, then spoon some out — it should be a little firm, so add more breadcrumbs if needed. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Lay out one sheet of pasta on a lightly floured work surface. Place 1 tbsp filling for each ravioli in rows on the pasta, spacing them 3–4 cm (11/4–11/2 inches) apart, and leaving a 2 cm (3/4 inch) border at edge of pasta.

Brush a little water onto pasta around each mound of filling, then lay a second sheet of pasta over top, using your fingers to press it down around each filling mound to push out any air.

Use a knife or round cookie cutter to cut out ravioli, then pick up each one and push around edges to ensure all air has come out.

Cook ravioli in a large saucepan of boiling salted water. They are cooked when they rise to surface.

Plate up about three ravioli per person. Drizzle with a little oil, scatter with herbs, if using, top with a few parmesan shavings and serve. Serves 4

Basic pasta dough

Why cook pasta when there are perfectly good packets out there waiting to be bought, and ready on your fork within 20 minutes? Because sometimes it’s really satisfying making things from scratch.

 2 2/3 cups (400 g/14 oz) Italian ‘OO’ wheat flour, plus extra for dusting
3 eggs

Sieve the flour and a pinch of sea salt onto a clean bench or a large wooden board, into a mound.Make a well in the centre and break the eggs into the well. Use a fork to beat the eggs together and gently bring the sides of the well in on the eggs, gradually drawing the flour into the eggs.

Draw the mixture together using your hands, then gently knead to form a solid mass. It shouldn’t feel too dry and crumbly; add 1 tbsp water if it feels too dry. Wash and dry your hands to prepare for kneading.Sprinkle about 1 tbsp flour over your work surface.

Place the dough on top, then knead it by pressing down with the heel of one hand, pushing the dough away from you. Fold the dough in half, then turn it over and give it a half-turn. Repeat this process, using two hands if needed, pushing the dough away from you, and always turning in the same direction.

Keep kneading for about 10 minutes, until the dough is quite elastic. Test it has been kneaded enough by pressing it with your finger—it should spring back. If it doesn’t, keep kneading until it does.

Make a thickish patty with the dough, then wrap it up in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, and up to 24 hours. Roll out as needed.

Photography by the wonderful Louise Lister, who did most of the food photography in After Toast.

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