Beet Ravioli

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The other day I was in the kitchen envisioning something to make with all the beets from our farm share.  I started roasting the beets in the oven and my mom walked through the door – “Ugh I hate how those things smell.” I forgot that both my parents don’t like beets.

I could have made a beet risotto or made them into a salad, however my parents would have been displeased by the overwhelming beet flavor.  The challenge was to make them love a dish that was predominantly beet flavored but still sweet and mild enough for them to enjoy. I decided you can never go wrong with pasta, so I made my favorite wonton wrapper raviolis with a beet filling, sauteed beet greens, and Gorgonzola cream sauce.  This dish is a great way to utilize every part of the beet plant.

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Although this sounds like a decadent dish the wonton wrappers give the pasta a lighter feel than regular pasta dough.  The “cream” sauce is also made with low-fat milk instead of cream so it is not as thick and indulgent.  The Gorgonzola cheese still gives it the traditional velvety texture characteristic of a cream sauce.

I served this dish to my parents and mom’s side of the family with garden salads, fresh cheese bread and a strawberry nectarine tart for dessert. I was nervous having never made it before, however, they were all enthusiastic about their ravioli. My mom was unexpectedly surprised by theses ravioli. She claims that they are tied for first for her favorite home cooked dish.

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Brown Sugared Beet Raviolis with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

Yields 6-8 servings (about 50 ravioli in total)

Ingredients for Ravioli

12 ounces of wonton wrappers (you can usually find these in the produce department or near the deli in the grocery store)

6 small garden beets with greens attached (if you can’t find beet greens you can use the equivalent amount of spinach or swiss chard)

15 ounces of part-skim ricotta cheese

3 Tablespoons of brown sugar

2 Tablespoons of olive oil

3 cloves of garlic

1 shallot

Salt and pepper

Ingredients for the Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

4 Tablespoons of butter

2 Tablespoons of flour

1 1/2 cups of milk

8 ounces of Gorgonzola cheese

Salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Wrap all of your beets (with greens removed and set aside) in tin foil.  Place in the preheated oven and cook for 45 minutes until tender.  Take them out of the oven and let them cool enough to hold them comfortably in the palm of your hand.

Take a small pairing knife and remove the skin of the beets.  Place them in a food processor (or blender) with the ricotta cheese and brown sugar.  Pulse until you have a smooth, consistent mixture. Spoon into a small bowl and salt and pepper to taste.

Set up a clean cutting board with the beet and ricotta mixture, wonton wrappers, a bowl of room temperature water and a pastry brush (you can always use a wet paper towel or your fingers).  Place one of the wonton wrappers in front of you. Scoop a teaspoon size ball of the beet and ricotta mixture onto one of the corners of the wonton wrappers leaving enough room for a border when you close it.

Brush two sides of the wonton wrapper with water and fold in half, like a triangle. Pinch to seal the ravioli.  Make sure that there are no air pockets in the ravioli, otherwise it will burst while you are cooking it.

Lay the ravioli on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Repeat until all the wonton wrappers are filled. Make sure that the raviolis are not touching each other on the cookie sheets.  Space them evenly and place wax paper on top before stacking.  Place them in the freezer until you are ready to use them.  It is much easier to handle them when they are frozen – plus you can make them ahead of time if you are serving guests.

In the meantime, heat up a skillet with olive oil over medium-low heat. Cut up a shallot and smash three garlic cloves.  Place them in the oil and add the beet greens (remove the bright pink stalks, I reserved them to use as a garnish).  Season with salt and pepper. Cook until the shallot is translucent and the beet greens have cooked down.

In a small sauce pot melt the butter.  Add the flour and whisk together to form a roux. Add in the milk and continue to whisk.  Cook together until slightly thickened.  Add the crumbled Gorgonzola cheese.  Whisk together until fully combined.  Let cook for 1-2 minutes.  Using a sieve, strain the mixture into another small sauce pot or double boiler.

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and add the ravioli six at a time.  They are done when they float to the top of the water. Remove them with a spider or a slotted spoon. Spoon part of the beet greens into the bottom of the bowl.  Top with six ravioli and spoon a Tablespoon (or so) of cream sauce on top. I garnished my plates with the beet stalks and parsley.

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