The first time I ate a version of this very old Venetian meal was at a very popular restaurant in my neighborhood in Brooklyn called Al Di La. The restaurant serves simple Italian food at it’s best and this is precisely why it is so popular. But since that dinner, a few years ago, I still have a vivid memory of their beet ravioli.
Casunziei is actually the name of a shape of ravioli made into a half-moon and crimped along the edges. Not only is this type of pasta filled with beets, it can also be filled with pumpkin or red radicchio. This ravioli is another traditional Italian dish made originally from “products that the land offered”. The oldest recipes are of two varieties: Red Casunziei and Green Casunziei. The red was made traditionally for the fall time and was filled with red beets, potato and yellow turnip. The Green Casunziei was made with spinach and wild chives grown in the spring. Don’t you just love the seasonality of it?
When researching this dish, it seems that there are a few ways to cook it – some add carrots and/or turnips to the filling, others add potato and/or ricotta. Some sprinkle with smoked mozzarella, mint or chives. I took, as always, the best of the traditional ingredients and what resulted was a beautiful and eye-popping meal. I decided to add ricotta and one potato to my filling to offset a bit of the sweetness beets can have. Not that I didn’t want to taste the beets, I just wanted to mellow a bit of the taste. But believe me, it didn’t take away from the flavor. If you have a food processor, this dish will be much easier and less messy to make. Beets stain, kids. Like a mutha. I looked like I feel into a red paint-can hands-first by the time I was done with making this. But, it was worth it and the results were stunning and oh-so-tasty. Also, forgetting the brown butter sauce, it is super healthy!
CASUNZIEI – BEET STUFFED MOON-SHAPED RAVIOLI WITH A BROWN BUTTER POPPY SEED SAUCE – serves 4
Ingredients for Ravioli:
- 1 batch of fresh ravioli OR (if easier, but I’ll shed a bit of a tear) wonton wrappers
- 2 beets, peeled and boiled till soft
- 1 large potato, peeled and boiled till soft
- 7 oz of ricotta
- 1/2 cup of grated parmigiano reggiano
- 3 tablespoons of milk
- 1/4 teaspoon of fresh nutmeg
- pinch of salt to taste
Ingredients for Sauce:
- 4-6 tablespoons of unsalted butter (eyeball – you may want more sauce or less sauce so use whatever amount of butter you want!)
- optional: 6 sage leaves
- 1 to 2 tablespoons of poppy seeds
- freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
- (optional) pinch of salt
- (optional garnish) chopped chives
What to do:
- Boil your beets and potato until very soft. Remove and allow to cool for a bit. When cool, mash by hand or blitz in a food processor till pretty smooth. Add to a bowl.
- Once the beet/potato mixture is cool, add your ricotta, cheese, nutmeg, salt and milk. Stir to combine. Taste for seasoning.
- Using a glass or ravioli cutter with a 4-inch diameter, cut your ravioli circles. Fill the midde of each ravioli with about 1 teaspoon filling. Wet the outer diameter of the ravioli with water using your finger. Bring one side of the circle to meet the other and pinch all of the sides closed. Dust with a bit of flour and allow to await its fate in the boiling water. Note to self – start boiling your pasta water. Don’t forget to add some salt!
- Continue making all your ravioli until you have enough.
- Add your ravioli to the boiling water and allow to cook (about 2 to 3 minutes). They should raise to the top when they are done.
- In a separate pan, heat up your butter on medium-low and allow to cook until butter begins to get a bit of color. Add your sage leaves and continue to get a bit more color. Add your poppy seeds and toss a bit. Add your ravioli’s to the pan and toss in the butter sauce.
- Plate ravioli’s with some of the butter sauce on top along with a pinch of (optional) salt and a dusting of freshly ground parmigiano reggiano and chives (optional).
Check out some of these other posts you may enjoy:
- PASTA WITH TUNA (Pasta Con Tonno)
- ITALIAN-STYLE SLOW ROASTED PORK SHOULDER WITH SALSA VERDE
- GARGANELLI WITH AUTHENTIC RAGU ALLA BOLOGNESE (Short, Hollow Pasta w/ Ragu with Beef and Red Wine)
- HORNAZO (Spanish Sausage-Stuffed Easter Bread)
- LA RIBOLLITA (Tuscan Vegetable and Cannelini Bean Soup)
- WINE-BRAISED LAMB SHANKS WITH ROSEMARY AND THYME IN PRESSURE COOKER