Valentine’s Day. A day to celebrate love, drink champagne and eat cute heart-shaped foods. Fabulous, right? To celebrate this year, my boyfriend and I made this ravioli dish – filled with hearts. It ended up taking the better part of an afternoon, so luckily there was a snow day and we both had off from work.
This dish was a lot of fun to make and very much a learning experience on my end. It was my first time making pasta and we went the non-traditional route, using beets and no eggs. This made for a beautiful, pink pasta. With a different filling, this would also make an awesome vegan ravioli.
The pasta didn’t lend much of a beet flavor, which is good if you’re not crazy about beets. I do love the idea of using real food to color food, rather than dyes or weirdo food coloring.
Making the dough itself was fun. It always amazes me how just a few ingredients can turn into a really great meal. We did end up going out to dinner for the occasion and had a very nice night out, but being stuck inside all day making ravioli together might have been my favorite part of this Valentine’s Day.
When kneading the dough, keep a small pile of flour next to you and add it to the dough as needed. By the end, your dough should bounce back when pressed, but shouldn’t be sticky anymore. Once it starts to look like what you think it should look like, knead for about 3-4 more minutes and you’ll probably be there. At least that’s how it went for this newbie.
The goat cheese filling is definitely a contender for my favorite part of this whole dish. I enjoyed it so much that the day after, I wanted to use the extra that was leftover to spread on toast. It was deemed a bad idea, seeing as how the extra never made it to the fridge. Whoops. This ravioli marathon did quite a number on the kitchen – dishes on dishes on dishes. In the end, I’d say it was totally worth it though.
Firstly and most importantly, these ravioli were absolutely adorable. But they were also pretty tasty, if I do say so myself. It’s a great recipe as is, with some nice flavor combinations, but you can definitely take it and make it your own. You could use different cheeses & herbs in the filling, use different greens, herbs or nuts in the pesto, or go ahead and make this whole dish vegan.
So it’s no secret that I love pesto. I would honestly eat it on just about anything. The fact that I got to eat it on these cute little ravioli is a bonus.
Definitely serve these with a side of toasted bread. It’s honestly a toss up on whether ravioli or bread is the best vehicle for scooping up pesto. To be on the safe side, I say carb-up and do both!
For the pesto, we used watercress and just a handful of basil, swapping in almonds for the usual pine nuts. Other than that, it’s just some cheese, nutmeg and olive oil. While extra virgin olive oil is a popular choice for olive oil, in this case you’re better off using a regular olive oil. When processed too much, extra virgin will take on a bitter flavor which is why it generally isn’t used as a salad oil. Cool tip, huh?
Since it was just the two of us for dinner, we ended up using half the recipe below and saved the extra pasta and pesto for a quick meal another night. We both have late schedules, so having a relatively easy meal on hand isn’t the worst thing! I’m not super into Valentine’s Day by any means. If you love someone, you certainly don’t need a specific day to be reminded of it. However, a specific day for lovey dovey pasta is a legitimate holiday in my book. I hope everyone had a very happy Valentine’s Day, filled with the best heart-shaped treats!
- 3½ c. flour
- 3 medium beets (1½c. puréed & strained)
- ½ c. olive oil
- 1 tbsp. salt
- 3 carrots, peeled & cut into ½ inch rounds
- 3 parsnips, peeled & cut into ½ inch rounds
- 1 c. goat cheese
- 1 c. ricotta
- ½ c. walnuts, chopped
- Handful of herbs (basil, tarragon, chives or any you like), chopped
- 4 oz. watercress
- 1 bunch basil
- 1 c. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 c. almonds
- ½ c. parmesan
- Pinch of grated nutmeg
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- Water as needed
- 1 tbsp. butter
- Add beets to a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Turn heat down and simmer until beets are softened, about an hour.
- Once cool enough, use a kitchen or paper towel to wipe the skin of the beets. Dice and place in food processor. Process until the consistency looks similar to applesauce. In half cup amounts, pass through a strainer into a large bowl.
- Measure out 3½ cups of flour out onto a clean surface. Form a mound with the flour and create a well in the middle. Add your beet puree and oil into the well. Using a fork, incorporate the flour into the beets/oil taking care not to break the sides of the well. You want to keep the "barrier" of the flour intact. Once enough flour is incorporated, use your hands to mix it all together.
- Knead dough for 10 minutes, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking. Dough should not be sticky and should bounce back when you press your fingers into it. Wrap tightly in plastic and let rest in the refrigerator for at least a half hour.
- In the meantime, use a small heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut heart shapes out of the parsnips and carrots.
- Bring another large pot of water to a boil, add in the parsnips and let cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove with a holed spoon and place into ice water. Repeat with the carrot hearts.
- In a large bowl, mix goat cheese, ricotta, walnuts and herbs. Salt & pepper to taste. Place in the fridge.
- In a food processor, add watercress, basil, extra virgin olive oil, almonds, parmesan and nutmeg. Process until smooth, adding water in small amounts if needed. Salt & pepper to taste. Set aside.
- Remove dough from fridge and divide into 6 equal rectangles.
- Using a pasta maker, feed a rectangle through the machine three times, switching the width each time. Use setting 7 first, then 5, then 3.
- Flour a clean surface and lay strip of pasta down. Using a medium/large heart-shaped cookie cutter, press into the dough lightly to make a mark for reference (DO NOT cut all the way through the dough). Fill each heart outline with half a tablespoon of the goat cheese filling.
- Repeat step 10 to make the top payer of pasta for your ravioli. Place carefully over the the first layer with filling, stretching as needed to form each ravioli. Press air out of each ravioli as best you can. Cut each ravioli out fully using the medium/large cookie cutter.
- Repeat steps 10-12 until all the ravioli are made, placing each batch in the freezer as you finish them up.
- In the same pot used for the carrots & parsnips, bring water to a boil and add in ravioli a few batches at a time. Let cook for 3-4 minutes. Don't discard pasta water.
- Add your pesto to a pan over medium heat. Stir in ¼ cup of pasta water and the butter. Stir in veggie hearts. Once heated through, spoon pesto onto a plate. Top with ravioli and heart-shaped carrots & parsnips.