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From the Farmbox

  • Posted by shawn traylor on May 6, 2010 in Food
  • So, I’m from Louisiana. And though I can’t be certain, I’m fairly sure that we Louisianians, categorically, are not known for eating a lot of beets. The same cannot be said for Russians, for whom beets……


    Damn. I was about to say “are like potatoes to us." But that ain’t quite right. Russians heart their potatoes rather mightily.


    Anyway, I had the good (no, baby, great) fortune of marrying a Muscovite girl, and it was she who turned me on to the humble beet. Well, now I’m hooked. There’s no denying it. Beets are good. And if you’re not eating them, you should be. And I mean right now.


    Let me tell you about one of my favorite beet recipes.


    It’s not really my recipe. It’s Mario Batali’s. Yes, I know, I know, I’ve already done a Mario Batali recipe. Well, guess what? There will be more. They’re just so damn good.

    Farmbox Ingredients:


    * Mixed colored beets


    Beet Ravioli:


    Making pasta is a lot of fun. Making stuffed pasta is even better. Now it’s entirely possible that these rather large disks of mine are not technically ravioli, but since I don’t know any better and am too lazy too do the research at this moment, we’ll just ignore that minor detail.


    The pasta making is pretty easy – the whole dish is, really. I won’t give you the details but will point you to Mario’s recipe, which is what I used here.


    In terms of rolling the pasta sheets used for the ravioli, I use my Kitchen Aide stand mixer with the pasta rolling attachment. It can of course be done by hand, but then I wouldn’t have had an excuse to buy that lusty mixer (I don’t really bake.) To quote Ferris Bueller, “It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.”


    So that’s kinda the pasta piece.


    Next comes the delicious beet mixture that goes inside each pillowy morsel. And in case you’re wondering, “pillowy” is not a word my spellcheck approves of. But then again, neither is “spellcheck”.


    Beet Ravioli Mix:


    Step 1 – Prepare the beets


    Trim, then scrub those dirty rascals (about 1 lb) until they’re cleanish. Then douse them with some extra virgin olive oil and a good bit of sea salt and black pepper, wrap ‘em up tight in foil and stick ‘em in a hot oven for 45 minutes or so – until they’re soft, but not mushy. You can see from the picture that mine were actually a little on the rare side this time, but the texture actually really worked in the final dish. Once the beets are finished cooking, carefully remove the skins, chop ‘em up and throw ‘em in the thing Jamie Oliver calls the wazzer – what I call the food processor. Wazz them up until they’re a good consistency, but so that the little pieces of beet still hold their form. You don’t want a puree.


    Step 2 – Open the wine


    In case you haven’t done that yet, go ahead. The stuffing of pasta demands it.


    Step 3 – Make the mixture


    Beet mixture + 1/2 cup ricotta + 1/2 cup milk + salt + pepper = ingredients that you stir together in a bowl using a wooden spoon. You’re looking for something that’s moist, but not too wet.


    Step 4 – Stuff the pasta


    Now for the stuffing. Take a sheet of your freshly made pasta, a few spoonfuls of the beet mixture and space them evenly along the length of the pasta. Then, place another pasta sheet on top. Carefully use your digit tips to create a seal around each little ball. Finally, stamp out each ravioli out using something round with a sharp edge (I used a 1/3 cup metal measuring spoon). Voila. Ravioli.


    Step 5 – Make the “sauce”


    I say “sauce” because all it is is a cup of unsalted butter, melted, with a quarter cup of poppy seeds mixed in. Make this while your water is boiling.


    Step 6 – Cook the ravioli


    Make sure your water is salted to taste like the ocean. Fresh pasta cooks faster than dried. These will be done in 3-4 minutes.


    Step 7 – Put it all together


    Drain your ravioli carefully using a spider or slotted spoon to remove each from the water, placing them lovingly, one by one, into the butter. Coat the ravioli in the poppy seed butter mixture, and plate. Mario recommends Carnia or Montasio cheese for grating, but I was unable to find either, so I used Parmesan, which was, as it always is, lovely.

    Step 8- Enjoy


    As if you haven’t been enjoying the whole process.




    - Shawn Traylor,





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