Happy Valentine’s Day! No matter our situation, today is a good day to remember and celebrate the love in our lives. Certainly, our lives have changed dramatically this past year. Maybe we have come to appreciate the simple things and notice all the love around us. With that in mind, I can’t think of a better way to soothe my soul than to dump some silky flour on a board, stir in some eggs, and make a fresh batch of pasta for supper.
This year I tried adding red sugar beets to flavor and color the pasta dough, and not only did it turn a lovely shade of red, but tasted delicious. For a very simple sauce, scoop on a dollop of ricotta cheese, and of course, drizzle generously with olive oil.
Valentine's Day Beet Pasta
- Pasta machine (optional)
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour + some for kneading
- ¼ cup semolina flour
- ½ tsp salt + some to add to pasta water
- 2 medium red sugar beets, peeled, cooked, and blended until smooth about ½ cup
- 2 medium whole eggs
- 1 lb ricotta cheese
Prepare the beets
- Wash and peel the beets. Either steam or roast until cooked and when cool, cut into fourths. Using a blender, an immersion blender, or food processor, blend beets until smooth. After blending, I like to then pass the cooked beets through a sieve to remove any lumps. Set aside.
Make the pasta
- Measure and dump the flours in the center of a large wooden board. Add the salt. With your fingers, create a well in the center. It should look like a caldera, and the well should be about 4 inches across to accommodate the eggs and blended beets. Then crack two eggs into the center and stir with a fork. Add the blended beets and continue to stir with a fork to blend with the eggs.
- As you are stirring the eggs and beets, use the fork to gradually, a little at a time, scoop the flour into the center. As you continue to incorporate the flour, the dough will get thicker and thicker. Once you have mixed in most of the flour and there is no danger of the eggs escaping and running over the board, use your bench cutter to scoop up everything into one pile. Bring any remaining flour into the center, scrap it all together with the bench cutter into a big shaggy pile. Begin to use your hands like a big scoop and bring it all together. Begin to knead and mix with your hands. The flour will be absorbed eventually, keep working it. Knead for 4 minutes until the dough is uniform and elastic. When you press your finger into the dough, it springs back.
- Cover the ball of dough in plastic and set aside for 30 minutes.
Stretching the dough
- I like the Imperia brand pasta roller because it is sturdy and well made. However, the hand-crank makes it a bit more of a workout. The Kitchen Aid mixer has a pasta attachment which makes stretching the dough much easier. Both Imperia and Kitchen Aid sell attachments for making a wide variety of noodle shapes such as spaghetti or tagliatelle. For this recipe, I used the angel hair setting.
- Use a rolling pin to make fettuccine: If you don't have a pasta machine, you can use a rolling pin. Unwrap and cut the pasta dough in half. Dust the board with flour and roll out dough to a 12-inch round until it is about ¼ inch thick. Using a pizza roller or a sharp knife, cut into ¼ inch strips. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
Cooking the dough
- Fresh pasta cooks very quickly, so have everything else ready to go. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and add a generous pinch of salt. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for 1-2 minutes. When the pasta rises to the top of the water, it is ready. Scoop pasta out of the water, drain, and place on serving platter. Scoop on a healthy dollop of ricotta cheese and drizzle with olive oil. Serve immediately.
Buon appetito and happy Valentine’s Day. Sending love to you, my friends.