After what feels like an impossibly hectic blur of a year, I’m now on leave for two glorious weeks.
Work has been all-consuming of late, as we’re mobilising a huge piece of kit from the other side of the globe within a very tight time frame. While it’s been a great experience to be part of such a massive logistical challenge, it’s meant long hours in the office with little time or energy for anything else.
Domestic life became rather haphazard as a result – laundry overflowed and threatened to instigate a mutiny; grocery shopping was an entirely forgotten exercise (dinner being relegated in priority after HOT SHOWER and BED); and after one particularly intense day, I was so distracted I found myself trying to open my front door with my security pass…
The timely delivery of a menu flyer from the new pizza joint around the corner meant I got to know their driver rather well (the number of times I called there for takeaway was getting embarrassing).
And on top of my own neglectful dietary habits I kept forgetting to buy cat food, so fur child was living on rations of whatever I could find in the fridge – chorizo, smoked edam, canned tuna with ginger and soy – and one night I even cooked him an omelette.
Ironically, in the face of these more than usual gourmet offerings, I was treated to questioning meows wanting to know where the real cat food was hiding and blatant rejection of aforementioned dishes (I’m sure parents of fussy children everywhere can relate to such rebuffs).
But I finally made it to freedom, oh sweet freedom!
Being able to move at my own pace… Taking time for a cup of tea in the morning… Sitting in the sunshine with Bailey and reading a book… Listening to Pink Floyd whilst cataloging photos from my holiday from last year…
These are the small pleasures I’ve been able to embrace.
And of course it also means I can get back into the kitchen at long last.
I’ve had this dish bookmarked for a time when I could set aside a few leisurely hours for pasta-making.
The salty, caramelised butter works wonderfully with the earthy beetroot and herbaceous, fragrant sage – and it’s also a visually lovely dish with those distinctive little magenta pillows.
beetroot ravioli with sage & brown butter
adapted from the july 2014 issue of delicious. magazine
8 small cooked beetroots, peeled and cooled 2 large pontiac or desiree potatoes, peeled and quartered 1 cup smooth ricotta 1 garlic clove, chopped ½ cup grated parmesan, plus extra to serve 125g unsalted butter 20 fresh sage leaves white pepper sea salt
Start by preparing the pasta dough, so it can rest while you make the filling.
Place the flour on a clean, dry surface or in a large bowl, and make a well in the centre. Crack the eggs into the well and beat with a fork until smooth. Using the tips of your fingers, mix the eggs with the surrounding flour, incorporating a little at a time until everything is combined.
Alternatively, you can make your dough in a food processor if you have one. Whiz the two ingredients together until the flour looks like breadcrumbs, then tip the mixture on to a work surface and bring the dough together into one lump using your hands.
Once you’ve made the dough, it’s time to knead and work it with your hands to develop the gluten in the flour. When the pasta starts to feel smooth and silky instead of rough and floury, it’s done.
Wrap the single piece of dough in cling film and place in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour before you use it.
For the ravioli filling, start by puréeing the beetroots and garlic in a food processor.
Cook the potato in a saucepan of boiling salted water for about 10 minutes until tender. Drain, mash and cool slightly.
Combine the beetroot purée, mashed potato, ricotta and parmesan, mixing thoroughly with a fork until you can no longer see traces of white ricotta. Season well with white pepper and sea salt, and set aside while you roll out your pasta dough.
Divide the dough into four pieces. Set your pasta machine to its widest setting and roll a lump of pasta dough through it, lightly dusting the pasta with flour if it starts to stick. Run a piece of dough through a few times, folding in half each time until you reach a smooth, even consistency.
Keep rolling the dough through all the settings on the machine, from the widest down to the thinnest, lightly dusting the pasta with a little flour every time you run it through. You should end up with four long, thin sheets of pasta.
Fresh pasta dries out very quickly, so don’t leave it for more than a minute or two before cutting or shaping it. Lay a damp tea towel over the top to help stop it from drying out.
Cut the sheets into 10 centimetre (4 inch) squares and place one teaspoon of filling in the centre of half of the squares.
Lightly brush the edges around the filling with a tiny amount of water and place another square over top. Press down the edges to seal the ravioli and make sure that any air is pushed out as you go. Neaten and trim the edges as required and then transfer to a tray generously dusted with plain flour. Set aside for 15 minutes to dry out a little.
Melt the butter in a frypan over medium heat. Add the sage leaves until the butter is brown and the sage leaves are crisp.
Cook the ravioli in batches, in a large pot of boiling salted water until they float to the surface.
Remove with a slotted spoon, distribute between serving plates and drizzle the brown butter over the top. Serve with extra parmesan.