Beet, Sage, and Ricotta Agnolotti

Beet, sage, and ricotta agnolotti in a zucchini crema with asparagus and poppy seeds. Orange zest in the agnolotti filling gives this dish a nice floral and citrus note.

Beet, sage, and ricotta agnolotti in a zucchini crema with asparagus and poppy seeds. Orange zest in the agnolotti filling gives this dish nice floral and citrus notes to go with the subtlety of the sage.

So my affair with agnolotti is apparently not over. A few beets and the remainder of the zucchini from my recent co-op box left me thinking of a way to use them up and use them together, and a ravioli seemed the natural solution. A quick search on Google confirmed that, as multiple hits for beet ravioli came back. While at first I thought I would just slice the zucchini to serve with the agnolotti, I soon remembered Marc Vetri mentioning zucchini as a substitute for the corn in the crema recipe I used for my steelhead trout. It was the perfect sauce for a beet ravioli with poppy seeds that I found on the Food Republic website, a recipe that they got from the CIA’s book “Pasta.” I made a few adjustments and used my own egg pasta recipe, and things turned out pretty well. A decent 2011 Pio Cesare Arneis played nice as a companion.

Beets for the agnolotti

This recipe calls for braising the beets instead of roasting them to get them tender enough to blend. The method is to first sauté a diced medium yellow onion with 4 chopped sage leaves in 2 ounces of unsalted butter. When the onions become tender (about 4 minutes while stirring occasionally), you add 1 1/2 pounds of peeled and diced beets along with 1/2 cup water to the sauté pan, bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until tender. This took longer than the recipe for me, around 40 minutes. But the results were great. I let the vegetables cool a bit before blending, and to prevent having an overly wet pasta filling, I drained the blended mixture in a sieve lined with cheesecloth.

Draining Beet Filling

This step also kept me from having to use bread crumbs to potentially thicken the filling, as the recipe suggests. Another ingredient I left out of the filling was the egg yolks. I just went with the 3/4 cup grated Parmesan, 1/2 cup fresh ricotta, 1/2 tsp  finely grated orange zest, and kosher salt and white pepper to taste. Those ingredients were added to the beet mixture and combined in a bowl with a wooden spoon.

Beet Ravioli filling

I made egg pasta sheets, doubling my recipe. With a batch this size, I used my stand mixer with a paddle and then the dough hook before finishing the kneading by hand. Folding the agnolotti is getting a little easier with practice, but it is still a time consuming process. I set the cut agnolotti on lined baking pans, sprinkle with semolina, and put in the freezer to harden before transferring to ziplock bags to be stored in the freezer for later use.

Beet Agnolotti Drying

For the sauce, I used 3 cups peeled and diced zucchini sautéed with half of a diced onion in 2 tbsp olive oil, stirring often until tender. Next, I added 1 cup water and 1 cup heavy cream to the pan, brought the mixture to a simmer, and cooked covered for 10 minutes. The mixture is blended with a tbsp olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and white pepper. I also prepared asparagus by trimming and blanching it. All of these can be made in advance, storing the sauce and asparagus in the fridge and the agnolotti in the freezer. When ready to cook, get a pot of salted boiling water going for the agnolotti, and put about 1/2 cup (or more if you like) of the sauce per serving in a sauté pan over medium-low heat with asparagus tips (again, use an amount to your liking). Cook the agnolotti until they float, drain, and then add them to the sauce and asparagus, carefully coating them. You don’t want the delicate pasta to tear.  I served the agnolotti sprinkled with poppy seeds, and a little remainder of the pasta filling and freshly chopped sage in olive oil and freshly cracked black pepper as a garnish on the side of the dish with flake sea salt. The addition of the sage oil as a garnish helped to add a little more herbaceousness to this sweet-tending ravioli.

Ingredients:

Agnolotti Filling
2 ounces (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 sage leaves, finely chopped
1 1/2 pounds beets, peeled and diced
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 cup fresh ricotta, skim or whole milk
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
Kosher salt and  ground white pepper, to taste
Pasta Sheets
1 1/2 cups “double zero” flour
8 egg yolks
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp olive oil
2 tbsp cold water
Zucchini Crema
3 cups zucchini, peeled and diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 cup water
1 cup heavy cream (Or whole milk, or skim, or any combination you want. If you go dairy-less, substitute water and stir in 4 tbsp olive oil after blending.)
1 tbsp olive oil
sea salt and white pepper to taste
Additional Ingredients
poppy seeds, to your liking
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and blanched and cut to about 1-inch pieces
sage leaves (chopped), olive oil, cracked black pepper, and flake sea salt for garnishing

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