Winter can be rather dull regarding local produce, at least that´s what I always thought. During spring and summer there is an abundance of asparagus, salads, tomatoes, fresh berries and so much more. Fall brings us fresh mushrooms, pumpkins, apples and plums. In contrast to that, it does not seem like winter has that much to offer. However, the cold months have just as many colorful vegetables in stock as the other seasons. Kale, beetroot, carrots, parsnip, Brussel sprouts are all examples of the wonderful things available (at least in Northern Europe) when it´s cold and snowy outside. I have to admit that I had some aversion to winter vegetables, especially regarding kale and other types of cabbages but I´ve made my peace, at least with kale salad. My point is, when it´s dark and grey outside, it´s actually quite easy to still get a colorful meal on the table. Bonus points if it´s delicious and vibrant pink pasta.
I´ve had my fair share of pasta experiments, ever since my pasta maker moved in a couple of years ago. It all started with the old time classic, ravioli filled with ricotta and spinach. From there it got more creative, I started using pumpkin, mushrooms or aubergine for the filling, each time trying to perfect the recipe. Most of the fillings were pretty tasty but it never really got to the point where I thought, “this is it, this is the perfect filling right here”. That was until I tried today´s recipe and mixed goat cheese with a bunch of fresh herbs. This is by far my favorite recipe, it´s got just the right amount of flavor without dominating the entire dish. I´m sure there are other (maybe better) recipes out there but for me, I feel like my search has ended.
I first tried adding vegetable juice to the pasta dough in order to give it some color a couple of months ago and I was immediately hooked. Beetroot is perfect for dyeing all sorts of things, whether its cake batter, pasta dough or fabric. The juice has this vibrant pink color and using it for ravioli transforms the dish into an absolute eye-catcher.
Notes to the recipe:
- In order to dye the pasta dough, you need beetroot juice. The easiest way to get to the juice is by using a juicer. If you don´t have one, you can also chop one fresh beetroot (about 140 g), place it in a blender and blend at high speed. Then, pour the mixture through a strainer in order to extract the juice.
- Since the juice adds more liquid to the dough, you need to adjust the flour accordingly. Just add more flour if you feel like the dough is too sticky. The more juice you add, the more colorful the ravioli will be but also the more flour you might need to add to balance it out.
- In order for the ravioli to not lose their color while cooking, turn the heat down once the water is boiling until it is merely simmering. Then cook ravioli for a couple of minutes.
- Depending on how thin you are rolling out the dough and the way you are making the ravioli (using a ravioli form or freestyle) you might have some dough leftovers. I usually use these to make tagliatelle, which I then freeze. Makes a great quick dinner for weeknights.
- I can´t really give you exact measurements regarding the sauce/toppings of the ravioli because it kind of depends on your preferences. Just use as much arugula, butter and parmesan as you wish, you really can´t go wrong here.
For the pasta dough (serves 4-5):
250 g flour type 00
35 ml beetroot juice
For the filling:
70 g fresh herbs (basil, parsley, chive, etc…)
200 g goat cream cheese
30 g grated parmesan
1 egg yolk
20 g breadcrumbs
For the topping:
About a handfull of arugula for each serving
2-3 tbsp. of pine nuts
3-4 tbsp. of butter
1) Knead flour, eggs and beetroot juice until you have a shiny and slightly sticky dough. Add more juice and/or flour if necessary. Wrap the dough in cling film and let chill for about an hour.
2) For the filling, chop the herbs. Mix with goat cream cheese, parmesan, egg yolk, breadcrumbs and season with salt and pepper.
3) Using your pasta machine, roll out the dough, not until the last level though, otherwise the dough is too thin. Use whatever way suits you best to make ravioli. You could either use a ravioli form (see pictures above), a ravioli cutter or you could just cut the ravioli by hand.
4) Bring a big pot of salted water to boil. Turn down the heat and cook the ravioli for 5 minutes, then drain them in a sieve. Melt butter and roast pine nuts. Drizzle the ravioli with melted butter and serve with a handful of arugula, pine nuts and parmesan.