The quality of the beets is of utmost importance -- they are what sing. They make a mighty pretty presentation, too. Use fresh, firm beets -- don't even attempt to do this with canned, pre-cooked ones. —Emiko
3 1/4 cups
(400 grams) flour
pinch of salt
1 1/2 pounds
(700 grams) of fresh beets (about 3 medium beets)
(250 grams) of potato (about 2 small potatoes)
Make a pasta dough by combining flour with a pinch of salt in a bowl. Make a well in the centre of the flour and crack the eggs into it. Add the olive oil and, with a fork, begin to beat the eggs and oil together until creamy. Slowly begin incorporating the flour around the wet ingredients until it begins to get very thick. At this point you may like to start using your hands and work the dough until it is no longer sticky (add flour a bit at a time if you need to) and you have a ball that is smooth, elastic, and bounces back if you push a finger into it. Wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap and let rest at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile prepare the filling. Clean and quarter the beets (I don't bother peeling them, except for any hard bits) and place in a saucepan of cold water with the potatoes (clean but whole, skin on) and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and cook until the vegetables are tender (depending on size, the potatoes may need to be removed a little earlier than the beets). Peel the potatoes while warm and mash until smooth. Purée the beets until smooth.
In a skillet, gently heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and add the whole garlic cloves. Over low-medium heat, add the beets and potatoes and cook about 10 minutes, or until some of the water has evaporated from the vegetables and the mixture is thick and begins to bubble. Season with salt, pepper, cloves and nutmeg. Remove the garlic and set the mixture aside to cool completely. This can be done the day before.
Make the ravioli by rolling out half of the dough on a floured surface until it is thin enough to see your hand through the other side. Cut out rounds with a regular drinking glass or cookie cutter (approximately 3 to 4 inches or 8 to 10 centimeters in diameter) and place a teaspoon of filling in the centre of each round. Fold the rounds in half to create half-moon shapes and seal the edges firmly with your fingers. Set the ravioli aside, uncovered, on a lightly floured surface while you finish the rest. Keep any pasta dough under a tea towel while you work and continue until all the pasta/filling is used up.
Cook ravioli in gently simmering, salted water for a couple of minutes, or until they float. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on warm plates. Serve dribbled with melted butter, a scattering of poppy seeds and Parmesan cheese. Alternatively, the uncooked ravioli can be frozen until ready to use; to cook them, place them frozen in simmering water until they float and the pastry is cooked through.
The Australian-Japanese cookbook author has lived in Florence (where a visit to a cheese farm once inspired her to start a food blog) for over 10 years with her Tuscan sommelier husband and two kids. Her third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, is out now.