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Ravioli San Valentino
Nathan Congleton / TODAY
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Servings:
4-6

Beets are great because they are super easy to work with. For Valentine's Day, this ravioli offers a festive but sweet and earthy combination of flavors.

Technique tip: When making the dough, keep it as thin as possible. Don't overwork the flour by mixing for too long in the mixer. Once formed, only continue to mix for a minute or so. When making the dough, let it sit at room temperature wrapped up tightly for 1-2 hours to temper and hydrate; it will give more elasticity to the dough. Be careful when mixing the beets; they stain easily. I'd recommend wearing a darker apron if you have on hand.

Special equipment: Pasta machine.

Ingredients

  • Pasta Dough

    • 6 cups "00" flour
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 7 whole eggs
    • 5 egg yolks
    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Ravioli Filling

    • 1 cup cooked beets, grated
    • 2 teaspoons Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
    • 1 cup herb goat cheese
    • 1 lemon, zested
    • 1 egg yolk, plus 1 egg for egg wash
  • To serve

    • 4 tablespoons butter
    • 1 tablespoon cold water, more if needed to smooth sauce
    • 1 pinch poppy seeds
    • 1 tablespoon grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano

Preparation

For the pasta dough:

1. Flour a board, marble slab or countertop well.

2. Combine the flour and the salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and combine on low speed using the dough hook. Add the eggs and the egg yolks. Turn it up to medium speed, drizzle in the olive oil, and mix until it looks like a rough dough, about 30 seconds.

3. Remove the dough from the machine and mix it well with your hands, first in the bowl (to scoop up and integrate the unmixed flour on the bottom) and then on the floured board or work surface to ensure that everything is very well combined.

4. Return the dough to the mixer and blend on medium-low speed just until the mixture comes away from the sides of the bowl, 15 seconds or so. (Remember: every mixer, like every oven, is different, so use your own eye to judge.)

5. Flour your work surface again and turn the dough out onto it. Sprinkle flour on the dough to keep it from sticking.

6. Roll the dough into a ball. Reach over the top of the ball, hook your fingers in and fold it back towards you; then press the folded bit in with the heel of your hand. (You're basically turning the outside part into the inside part.) That, repeated many times, is how the dough is worked. Keep adding lots of flour, so the dough is not sticky. When the dough is nice and smooth on the outside, like a well-kneaded bread dough (you want this pasta dough to be really light colored and smooth) — this takes about 3 minutes — form it into a tight ball.

7. Wrap it snugly in 2 layers of plastic wrap, so it's nice and tight, and put it in the fridge to rest for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

For the ravioli filling:

1. Squeeze out extra liquid from the beets with a towel (red if you want to prevent extra staining).

2. In a stand mixer, mix all ingredients.

3. Form the filling into little balls, about 1 tablespoon worth (or 1/2 ounce) for each one.

4. Put the balls of filling in the fridge on a plate covered with plastic wrap and cool them for at least 1 hour, so the filling gets nice and cold and will retain its shape when you put it in the pasta. The filling will hold in the fridge for up to 2 days.

To make the ravioli:

1. Remove the ravioli dough from the fridge and turn it out onto a well-floured surface. With a wooden rolling pin, roll the dough out into a square or rectangle, so that it fits inside your pasta machine.

2. Flour the pasta to prevent stickiness and roll it through a pasta machine. Cut the resulting sheet of dough in half (so the final sheet doesn't get too long). Roll the pasta dough through the machine again, reducing the setting. Repeat until the dough is thin enough to allow you to see the outline and color of your hand through it, but not so thin that it gets fragile: it should feel like a piece of velvet. At this point, run the dough through the machine once more without changing the setting.

3. Make an egg wash by beating 1 egg together with 1 tablespoon of water. Cut the pasta lengthwise into 3-inch-wide strips and brush the egg wash all over the pastry brush so that it's evenly covered.

4. Remove the ravioli ball filling from the fridge. Place the balls at 1-inch intervals along the middle of the strip of pasta.

5. Top with another piece of rolled out pasta dough and seal around the filling. The dough should be grainy with flour on the outside when you fold it over; if it's not, sprinkle on a little more flour so the top isn't sticky.

6. Cut the ravioli using a heart-shaped pasta mold (if you don't have one, you can use a cookie cutter). The trick is to press the cutter hard so the edge is clean.

7. If you're not serving the ravioli right away, you can freeze them at this point (they'll keep for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container). But if you're moving on, put them on a plate and proceed directly to cooking.

To serve:

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

2. Drop in the ravioli and cook until they bob to the surface and float, about 2 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in a pan, warm 3 tablespoons of butter with 1 tablespoon of cold water.

4. Toast poppy seeds in the sauce while ravioli is cooking.

5. Drain the ravioli but do not rinse them; you want all that stickiness so the sauce will adhere.

6. Remove the sauce from the heat and add the ravioli. Toss everything together so that all the ravioli are well coated with the sauce. Add Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano to add flavor and texture.

7. Serve immediately and sprinkle with more cheese.

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