Beetroot & Goats Cheese Ravioli, Beetroot Crisps
inspired by The Albert Arms
There is light at the end of the tunnel!
There’s a lot to take in after the Government’s announcement of the new road map out of lockdown. For many in hospitality May seems like a long wait. Some would argue too long.
But let’s look on the bright side shall we?
Not only can we be cautiously optimistic for being back in pubs and restaurants in May. But my the end of June we might live in a world with no more restrictions.
Which means hospitality can start to look forward not only to being open, but being busy. We can start dreaming about packed bars on a Saturday night, of buzzing restaurant atmospheres and gatherings with large groups of friends and family.
Before I am completely overwhelmed with excitement lets focus on May.
Spring will be in full swing. We will have leaves on trees and longer evenings. Hopefully warmer ones too.
There will be the first new potatoes of the season.
And, best of all, there will be asparagus.
I’m slightly ashamed to admit that one of the first things that crossed my mind when the reopening date was announced was a feeling of happiness that restaurants wouldn’t miss out on asparagus season again.
Is that weird? It is, isn’t it?
Yes it’s disappointing we won’t be able to meet friends and family for drinks or dinner over Easter. But think of the asparagus. At least there will be a small window for these delicious green spears to be on menus this year, before the season ends in June. If that is not a bright side, or a silver lining, then I don’t know what is.
So why on Earth am I talking about asparagus but cooking with beetroot today, I hear you wonder.
As much as I love asparagus, going to the supermarket and buying some second rate veg that’s had to be flown in from afar is no way to celebrate.
British asparagus is like British strawberries. It is worth waiting for.
Instead my lunch today is something seasonal for this time of year.
And funnily enough, last May when pubs were closed and there was nothing they could do with asparagus, The Albert Arms was thinking about beetroot too.
The Albert Arms is a proper pub (by that I mean somewhere you can go for a just drink as well as eating) in the heart of Southwark. After a massive refurb a few years ago you don’t just want to go there to drink though. The food is pretty amazing.
Like this beetroot ravioli. Looks delicious, doesn’t it?
Seeing as I still have plenty of beetroot to eat, this is the perfect thing for lunch today.
I make a pasta dough the way I always do. 100g 00 flour, 1 egg and a drizzle of olive oil.
I knead until smooth and then pop it into the fridge to rest.
The fillings are simple enough. I’m roasting two types of beetroot. I still have a few purple ones from the garden, as well as some enormous golden beetroot from Oddbox to get through. Each beet gets wrapped in silver foil and roasted in the oven until soft.
My small beetroot are cooked in about 45 minutes. The largest golden one is in there nearly two hours! Thankfully I was organised and roasted the beetroot this morning when the oven was on anyway (baking bread) so I’m not about to starve.
To make the filling I blitz each beetroot in the food processor with some thyme. Then I put it on kitchen paper and try and get out some of the moisture out before crumbling in the goats cheese and mixing with plenty of black pepper.
Even with my attempts to get the moisture out, they are still pretty tricky to fill.
The filling tries to spill out whenever I press the pasta together to get rid of any air pockets in the ravioli.
As I wait for the water to boil, I can’t say I’m hopeful.
Miraculously they hold together!
The purple beetroot as no where near as purple on the outside as the ones from The Albert Arms though. As I sit down to my lunch I look back at their photo of the dish. I wonder if they made a separate beetroot dough for the centre of the ravioli too?
That’s the amazing thing about eating out though isn’t it? A chef has worked out how to make a dish that extra bit special? They have practiced it and refined it.
One thing I have refined is my beetroot crisps, after my last attempt to cook Vegetable Crisps. Yes, as I expected, if you fry them rather than trying to be healthy and oven bake them, they turn out even better.
But I’m not about to make another batch of ravioli to get the colour just right. I’m full now, and frankly had enough of beetroot for the next few days.
But perhaps next year, when we have more beetroot growing in the garden, and when social distancing and cooking fatigue are things of the past. Perhaps then I will make more beetroot ravioli, with two types of pasta dough.
Or perhaps I’ll just go back to the Albert Arms.
Who am I kidding. I’ll definitely just go to the pub. No brainer.
Beetroot & Goats Cheese Ravioli
- 100 g 00 pasta flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 egg
- olive oil
- 1 beetroot (raw or pre cooked)
- 1 sprig thyme
- 50 g soft goats cheese
- 15 g butter
- 1 tbsp chopped mixed soft herbs, like parsley, basil, chives etc
- 1 small beetroot
- olive oil
- If using raw beetroot first roast one in an oven at 160°C. Wrap in tin foil and then place directly onto the oven shelf. Roast until soft – this will depend on the size of your beetroot but roughly 45mins to 1 hour for small to medium beets. Once cooked allow to cool slightly and then peel. If you are using precooked beetroot for the filling you skip this step.
- Add the cooked beetroot and thyme leaves to a blender and pulse to a rough paste. Tip out the mix onto some kitchen paper and pat dry as much as you can to soak up excess moisture. Now add to a bowl and crumble in the goats cheese. Season with a salt if needed and lots of black pepper. Put in the fridge until you're ready to fill your pasta.
- To make the pasta dough add the flour to a bowl and make a well in the centre. Crack in the egg. Using a fork, beat the egg and start to mix in the flour. Once you have a shaggy dough drizzle over a little olive oil and bring the dough together into a ball using your hands.
- Knead on a clean work surface for about five minutes until the dough feels smooth. Wrap in cling film and put in the fridge to rest for at least 30 minutes.
- Slice the remaining raw beetroot very finely (a mandolin helps with this). Pat dry on kitchen paper and season with salt. Heat about 1cm of oil in a frying pan Add the slices and fry in batches, turning occassionally until crispy on both sides. Drain on kitchen paper and keep to one side.
- When ready to make your pasta take the dough and filling out of the fridge. Start by rolling your pasta dough to the thinnest possible setting on your pasta machine and then cut out circles of dough using a cutter.
- Dip your finger in some water and run it around the edge of one of the pasta circles. Now add a teaspoon of the beetroot filling and place another pasta circle on top. Press firmly around the edge to seal the pasta, making sure there are no air pockets in the filling. Place on a floured plate and repeat with the remaining pasta.
- Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and add the ravioli for 3-4 minutes, until the pasta is cooked.
- Meanwhile melt butter in a small frying pan and add the herbs. Place the cooked ravioli on a plate and top with the butter sauce and beetroot crisps. Enjoy!