I’m a sucker for everything color and always have been. So when Amy over at Cooking with Amy announced the theme for this month’s IMBB, I was a hundred percent positive about one thing: The pasta I’d make would have to come in a nice and bright tone.
A while back (in fact long enough to successfully have blocked those early attempts of colored pasta out of my memory) blueberry juice seemed like a wonderful idea, but the results were… hm… a bit strange – considering you also eat with your eyes.
If you have prepared blueberry muffins before and have beaten the dough too long after adding the berries, you know that the usually yellow dough develops rapidly into a rather ugly pale blue-greenish tone. And that’s what happened to my last attempt of “blueberry pasta”, yellow pasta dough turning into a blue/green something…Despite my predilection for colors, it was anything but appetizing. A not very encouraging, let alone satisfying experience. But that was then.
It was all about to change. We used red beet juice for a dessert sauce not too long ago and still had some at our disposal, the thought process was simple: yellow (dough) + dark pink (reduced juice) should turn into something between red and pink. And that’s what we got!
And we got a lot of it! The first batch we used for tagliatelle, to be dried and to be used in the next days. I was very happy with the outcome and was looking forward to the real deal, the pink ravioli. To support to drying process of the tagliatelle, we hung the individual pasta noodles over the back of a chair, which we had seen someone do somewhere before. While it was a cool thing to do, it wasn’t all that great the next morning. Quite a few had jumped, leaving the kitchen floor in a pink mess. Well, it wasn’t as dramatic, but now I understand when cooks complain about the fact that home made dried pasta is much more delicate to handle.
Opposed to making the red beet juice ourselves and producing a big mess with a handful of fresh red beet tubers and our juicer, we took the short cut and got ours pain free at the Viktualienmarkt a week ago (for a different dish then). In case you are wondering about the taste of the pasta dough now, no worries, the typical red beet taste hasn’t rubbed off at all.
Pink Pasta Dough
For the pink/red in the dough, cook the red beet juice until is gets thick and is reduced to about half of the original amount. Be careful not to let it get to thick and dark…that’s what happened with our first try… Almost as bad as screwed up caramel…
Combine all other ingredients for the pasta dough with the slightly cooled down reduced juice and knead well for a few minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. I used our KitchenAid for starters, because red beet juice is well known for staining everything it comes in contact with, particularly on skin it seems to stay forever. With a safe head start, I began working the dough with my hands for a few more minutes until it was evenly colored. Wrap tightly in plastic foil and let rest for 60 minutes in the fridge. Before I chilled the dough, its consistency worried me a bit, because it felt a bit porous. But the full hour of resting magically solved the issue.
Remove dough from foil, knead a few times and either roll out thinly by hand or use your pasta machine. Our pasta machine served us well, starting with the first setting of the machine all the way up to level 7 (out of 8) – all in all about 20 runs. Turn and fold the dough a couple of times to get the best results. Don’t worry if the edges aren’t super even, as long as the sheets are wide enough for the ravioli shapes.
Note: Towards the end of the resting period of the dough, you may want to start with the filling. Because once the pasta sheets have been made, they should be used quickly – otherwise they get all dry and more difficult to work with. Work-around: cover pasta sheets with a damp towel until you are ready to use them.
For the ravioli filling, beat the butter and sugar together, then add the egg yolk, the lemon zest, the curd (“Topfen”), the Brioche crumbs and the Schnaps. Blend well, until it becomes a homogenous mix. Keep cool until further processing.
For making ravioli, a ravioli maker can be a useful tool, but really isn’t necessary. A small round cookie cutter can also be used; additionally you will need a knife to lift the filled pasta without damaging it, a brush, and a bowl with some egg white.
Instead of cooking the ravioli in water, the book suggests: Pour enough milk in a big pot, add a scraped-out vanilla bean, the vanilla seeds as well as the sugar and let simmer for a few minutes at medium heat.
Make sure you have two pasta sheets of equal size, place one of them on a slightly flour-dusted wooden board. Now either use your ravioli maker or a cookie cutter to mark where the filling needs to go. It also helps to get the most out of your sheets, avoiding waste, which you’ll otherwise end up with or even worse incomplete ravioli…Using two tea spoons, place about a tablespoon of filling into each marked area. Generously brush some egg white around each filling.
As soon as you’re done, take the other pasta sheet, place on top of this one and use your hands to form the ravioli and press the two layers together – gently but firm enough. Make sure no air is trapped between the two sheets of pasta. This part can be a little tricky. ‘Happy with how they look? Then take your cookie cutter again and cut out the individual pieces.
Just before you cook the ravioli, prepare the sauce by adding the butter and Brioche crumbs to a small frying pan and let gently (lightly) brown.
Generally, fresh pasta cooks much much faster, so place the ravioli in the lightly simmering vanilla milk and expect them to be ready in about 3-4 minutes. They tend to float on top throughout the simmering process, just take a skimmer to turn them at least once and push them down a bit from time to time.
Arrange ravioli with the butter and breadcrumb mix on a plate, drizzle with vanilla milk (if desired) and serve while hot.
We served them with hot cinnamon cherries, which can be prepared in a heartbeat: Simply heat up cherries and cherry juice in a pan, add sugar and cinnamon to taste. Bring to a boil and add some starch/juice mix while stirring. The starch mix consists of two to three tablespoons of starch combined with a few tablespoons of juice. Add only a little at a time, as the consistency shouldn’t get too dense. Done!
The only thing leaving me puzzled is the picture in the cookbook showing both the red dough (believable, since it’s pretty much the same color I got) and the cooked ravioli with…still the same color! Impossible unless you either use additional artificial coloring or they weren’t cooked ;) In other words it’s totally normal if they loose some of the color during the cooking process. Or am I missing something???
My verdict on this recipe: sweet pink ravioli – a little time consuming but a killer recipe!
Pink Curd Ravioli in Butter Brioche Crumbs
Recipe source: Ravioli & Lasagne by Witzigmann/Teubner p.11, 112, 114, adapted mix of various recipes
Prep time: 45-60 min., chilling: 1 hour, cooking: 3-4min.
Ingredients for the pasta (serves 2):
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1/4 tsp salt
100ml red beet juice, reduced to less than half
Ingredients for the filling:
200g curd (Topfen)
1 egg yolk
50g Brioche crumbs
zest of 1/2 lemon
a generous dash of Marillenschnaps (or other fruit schnaps)
Ingredients for cooking the ravioli:
1 vanilla bean, scraped out
Ingredients for the topping/sauce (amounts to taste):
Ingredients for the cherries (amounts to taste):