Look at those things. Hideous. I mean, aside from the Schrute family, people don't actually eat these things, do they? Well, maybe people eat them, but they're probably all Russian and they have no choice because it's the only food available.
I could go on, but I'll get to the point. I have never really cared for beets. Just have never came across a beet dish that I liked. They always seem to be paired with goat cheese and walnuts in some sort of ubiquitous salad that seemingly was designed to maximize the number of ingredients in one dish that I either don't like or am allergic to. Throw in some radicchio and we're all set!
Nonetheless, a bunch of beets showed up in my Farmhouse Delivery bin this past week. And since I'm not paying good money to throw organic vegetables in the trash, I set out determined to find some dishes using beets that I will hopefully enjoy. I perused my cookbooks and the interwebs, and stumbled upon beet casunziei, which is currently on CraftBar's menu. Having no idea what that was, I performed a quick Google search, and it was revealed that beet casunziei are half-moon shaped ravioli, with a beet based filling. An excuse to make fresh pasta. Perfect.
Beet Casunziei with Beet Greens, Poppy Seeds and Brown Butter
adapted from multiple sources
Got the inspiration from CraftBar's menu, but didn't have a singular recipe for this one. Pulled from a variety of sources, including Tom Colicchio's book, Craft of Cooking. CraftBar's dish uses Swiss chard, but since my beets came with the beet greens, I used those instead.
12 ounces all purpose flour
9 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
2¼ teaspoons olive oil
1½ tablespoons milk
Make the pasta in the traditional well method, detailed here or here, for those that want step-by-step instructions. Roll the sheets of pasta out to the penultimate thickness on most home pasta machines, or until the pasta sheet is just thin enough so that you can see your hand through it. But before you roll the pasta out, complete the filling first.
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 russet potato
8 oz of ricotta
½ cup of parmigiano reggiano, grated
3 tablespoons milk
Fresh nutmeg, grated to taste
Kosher salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Wash and scrub the beets, then trim the tops and bottoms. Toss the beets in the canola oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place the beets in a small baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Roast until the beets can be pierced easily with a paring knife, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven, let the beets cool until they can be handled, then peel. Pass the beets through a potato ricer into a large bowl.
While the beets are roasting, peel the potato, cut into large, similarly sized pieces and place in a medium saucepan with enough salted water to cover. Bring to a boil, slightly reduce the heat, and boil until tender. Strain, place the potatoes back into the saucepan and leave it uncovered while you prep the other ingredients.
Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl. Rice the potato and add it to the bowl, along with the riced beets. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Cut the sheet of pasta into 4" diameter rounds. I used a 5 oz ramekin/souffle mold from Sur La Table, but whatever you can find works. Add about ½ tablespoon filling to each round. I used a 1⅜" disher from Fat Daddio's. Don't overstuff the ravioli, or else they will not seal properly. Wet the bottom edge of the round with water and fold in half toward the top edge, pinching the two edges together. Be sure to press any air pockets out of each ravioli, and to form a tight seal. Place the ravioli on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Beet greens from 2 bunches of beets
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and sliced thin
Freshly ground black pepper
Rinse the greens well, washing away any dirt or sediment. Trim any discolored leaves, and remove the leaves from the stems, discarding the stems. Cut the leaves into large pieces. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare a large bowl of ice water. Place the greens into the boiling water and remove with a wire strainer as soon as the water returns to a boil. Place them into the ice water to cool, then remove to paper towels and squeeze off excess moisture.
Heat the olive oil and garlic in a large skillet over medium low heat. When the garlic begins to brown, add the beet greens and cook until tender, about 5-6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, set aside and keep warm.
Finishing the dish
I'm considering about 6 ravioli one serving, so the following directions will provide 4 servings. Adjust as necessary.
24 beet ravioli
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
8 sage leaves
Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Extra virgin olive oil
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat the butter in a large skillet, over medium to medium-low heat. Once the butter has melted, add the sage leaves and poppy seeds, and continue to cook until the butter has browned. Do not burn the butter. Drop the ravioli into the salted water, and cook until they float, about 2 minutes. Remove from the water with a wire strainer, and add to the butter along with the beet greens. Stir gently to combine and cook for one minute more. Remove to a large serving dish and garnish with the parmesan, chives, a sprinkle of Maldon salt and a drizzle of olive oil.
The verdict? The best beet dish I've ever had, although that's not really saying too much, since I'm no beet afficianado. The earthyness of the beets is there, but it's cut nicely by the potato and ricotta. I saw some other recipes that did not include a potato in the filling, and I think I'm glad I didn't go that direction. It probably would have been too ... beety, for lack of a better word.
I got my wife, an ardent beet hater, to try it. Her verdict? "It's as good as beets are ever going to taste." Well, if that ringing endorsement doesn't get you to try this recipe, I don't know what will. I back her sentiment though - fresh pasta, parmesan, brown butter. There's a lot to like here, even if you don't like beets.