On beets and purple fresh pasta
Purple beetroot ravioli with ricotta, walnuts, and thyme
Growing up, beets in my house were bought rarely, always pre-cooked and sealed in plastic. The only way my dad would eat them was thickly sliced and slathered in mayonnaise, something I still love from time to time.
The first time I was introduced to raw beetroots was at the local farmers’ market, more than 10 years ago. At that time, I was teaching cooking classes for children at the market: we would go from stall to stall, picking what was fresh and seasonal, to assemble all the ingredients afterwards into bruschetta, vegetable spreads or fresh pasta parcels.
One Sunday morning, right on the verge between winter and spring, there was one German guy, chef and owner of a deli shop, who was panfrying in olive oil thin slices of beetroots, previously dredged in flour. He sprinkled the beets with salt and passed me one to try: that was love at first bite and the moment when my relationship with fresh beets changed.
Purple beetroot ravioli with ricotta, walnuts, and thyme. Where the idea was born
Last year, during some research for the cookbook, I encountered the casunziei from Cortina d’Ampezzo, in the Alps, the cutest fresh pasta parcels stuffed with beets and potatoes, drizzled with poppy seed butter and showered with aged, smoked ricotta.
Today’s stuffed pasta was born from the union of my beetroot carpaccio and casunziei ampezzani.
The beetroot, though, goes into the pasta dough, turning it into bright purple silken pasta sheets. The filling is made with chopped toasted walnuts, ricotta, grated pecorino, and fresh thyme for earthiness. Finally, I dressed the ravioli just like I would do with casunziei, with butter, poppy seeds, and aged ricotta.
You can get the recipe along with more details on how to make such a show-stopping purple fresh pasta on the blog today. Go check it!
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Bonus recipe. Quattro Formaggi sauce
I tossed the ravioli in a simple poppy seed butter dressing, but a rich Quattro formaggi sauce would be equally delicious.
Quattro formaggi is the Italian equivalent of a cheese sauce, so choose the cheese you have at hand. Here I used fontina and taleggio, but feel free to opt for gruyere or cheddar, too. As for gorgonzola, your favourite blue cheese would do, too.
2 cups/250 ml heavy cream
1 garlic clove
6 sage leaves
3 ounces/85 grams rind-free Taleggio, cut into roughly 1-inch chunks
3 ounces/85 grams rind-free Fontina, coarsely grated
3 ounces/85 grams grated Parmigiano Reggiano
3 ounces/85 grams gorgonzola dolce, cut into roughly 1-inch chunks
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat the cream with the garlic and the sage leaves in a large pan over medium heat until simmering. Remove from the heat and discard the garlic and the sage leaves.
Add the taleggio, fontina, and grated Parmigiano and stir until all the cheese has melted and the sauce is creamy and smooth. Set aside.
When you’re ready to cook the ravioli, reheat the cheese sauce if it has cooled down and loosen it with some of the ravioli cooking water.
Any leftover sauce can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days and gently reheated before using.
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Workshops for Ukraine
How can a recipe actively support the hundreds of thousands of refugees who had to leave their homes and land because of the devastating war in Ukraine?
With The Bluebird Kitchen, Frollemente, Claudiu Frasiloaia, Momacys, To be bread, Mangioquindisono, Healthylittlecravings, and Fancyfactory we created Workshops for Ukraine, a fundraiser in which we offer our time and knowledge to help the Red Cross that in these days is trying to support hundreds of thousands of refugees.
You can decide to donate a free amount or participate in one of the courses we have created for you (they are all in Italian).
But back to the recipe. How can a recipe have such disruptive power?
In the workshop I’ll be teaching, How to Write a Recipe, we’ll see how recipes are chemical formulas that rely on the perfect balance of ingredients and process, and consequently require precise language and a shared code. On the other hand, though, recipes are also a concentration of culture, traditions, customs, and values, which transmit a world of flavours and tastes, keep it alive and also mark its evolution.
In this two-hour workshop, we’ll look at recipe writing from these two different perspectives. We’ll also talk about the tone of voice, how recipe writing has evolved over time (from Eliza Acton to Julia Child to Nigella Lawson), the difference between writing a recipe for a blog or a cookbook, the conversion from grams to cups, which is not only a matter of numbers but also of different cultural worlds.
Join us, make a donation, or simply share this initiative: every little gesture counts!