Beet Ravioli (Casunziei all’ampezzana)

These are an attractive, dish to serve to your vegetarian friends. Garlic-infused beet and potato ravioli, topped with a simple butter and poppy seed sauce. If you want to get extra-fancy, make batches with red beets and golden beets for a multi-colored main course.


  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds (700 grams) of fresh beets (about 3 medium beets)
  • 1/2 pound (250 grams) of potato (about 2 small potatoes)
  • 2 peeled garlic cloves, whole
  • Olive oil
  • pinches of freshly ground nutmeg
  • pinches of ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 3 ounces (80 grams) Parmesan cheese, grated

The Pasta

Combine the flour and the pinch of salt in a bowl, make a well in the center and crack the eggs into it, add the oil, then, using a fork, whisk the egg and oil until combined. Slowly start working the flour into the eggs. The mixture will become very stiff, eventually, you’ll have to switch to your hands. Work the dough until it is no longer sticky. When it is smooth and bounces back when poked with a finger, shape it into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for at least 30 minutes.

The Filling

While the dough rests, wash and quarter the beets and the potatoes (don’t bother peeling them). Place together in a pot, cover with cold water, add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cook until tender (the potatoes may finish faster than the beets, if so, remove them with a slotted spoon and let the beets finish). Puree both the beets and potatoes using a food mill (the skins will be left behind in the mill).

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil over gentle heat in a pan large enough to hold the beets and potatoes. Add the garlic cloves and saute for a moment. Over medium-low heat, add the potatoes and beets and cook until they thicken and start to bubble, 10-15 minutes. Add the nutmeg,  cloves and some salt, remove the garlic and take the mixture off the heat, letting it cool completely.

Making the Ravioli

Roll out half of the pasta on a floured surface until it is thin enough to see your hand through (a pasta machine works, too, of course). Cut out rounds with a drinking glass or a 3″ diameter biscuit cutter. Place a teaspoon of filling in the middle of each round, then fold over to make half-moon shapes. Seal the edges firmly with your fingers or with a fork. Set the ravioli aside, uncovered, on a floured surface as you finish them. Save the scraps of dough under a tea towel while you work. Continue to roll and fill until the filling and dough are used up.

At this point, the ravioli can be placed on a cookie sheet, so they’re not touching, and frozen. Once frozen, bag them and return to the freezer. To cook the frozen ravioli, bring a pot of salted water to a gentle boil and place the frozen ravioli straight from the freezer into the water. Do not thaw them first.

If you are cooking them fresh, bring a pot of salted water to a gentle boil and drop the ravioli in. Remove them when they float, 2-3 minutes. Toss with melted butter, poppy seeds, and freshly-grated Parmesan (a grinding of black pepper, while non-traditional, is welcome, too). Serve immediately.


Texas-style Chili

I had a hankering for real, Texas-style chili: no beans, stew beef rather than ground beef, and a slew of different chiles, both dried and fresh. Your mix of peppers determines the heat; I opted for milder spiciness, if you like things hotter, add in some dried Thai bird chiles or some fresh scotch bonnet or habaneros.


2 dried red New Mexico chiles
3 dried pasilla chiles
1 chipotle in adobo
1 tbsp of adobo reserved
1 tsp cumin powder
4 lbs grass-fed beef, sliced into 3/4″ cubes
1 white onion, diced
2 fresh green chiles
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
14 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup masa harina

split and seed the dried chiles, toast them on a hot, ungreased cast iron skillet, one at a time, pressing them down, flipping and pressing them down again, 10 seconds or so per pepper. Transfer to a bowl, cover with boiling water and soak for 30 minutes or so.

Transfer the peppers to a blender, add half the garlic, the cumin, the reserved adobo, a bit of salt, and enough of the soaking liquid so you can puree the peppers. Work the puree through a medium mesh strainer back into a bowl. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a skillet and add the pepper puree, cook, stirring over high-heat for 2-3 minutes, until it darkens slightly and becomes a bit glossy. Transfer back to a bowl.

In a six quart dutch oven or pot, heat another 2 tbsp of oil. brown the beef in batches. remove to a bowl. Once all the beef is browned, without wiping out the pot, add the onion and saute until translucent. Add the green chilis and the remaining garlic, cook, stirring until the pepper softens slightly. Add back in the beef, toss to coat, then add the chili sauce, tomato, and oregano, stir, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until the beef is tender, 2-3 hours. Right before serving, stir in the masa (which will thicken the sauce slightly) taste, adjust salt, if necessary, and serve with corn bread.