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Frankie visits Chicago's Pasta Fresh and discusses authentic, homemade pasta with the owner.
Fresh lasagna sheets
5 red beets, peeled and salt baked until tender
15 ounces ricotta or stracciatella
1/4 cup butter
Wrap the beets in tin foil, add salt and bake until tender (about 30 minutes). Once done and cool enough to handle, remove skins and cut into 1-inch chunks.
In a blender, combine the baked beets and ricotta in an 80/20 ratio, and blend until smooth. Add salt if needed.
In a bowl, stir the beet mixture with remaining ricotta.
Lay out a pasta sheet. Scoop spoonfuls of the beet mixture and spread evenly. Top with another pasta sheet, and press down around beet mixture to seal. Add small slits in the tops, then cut into ravioli squares.
Cook raviolis in a pot of salted boiling water for a few minutes.
While they're cooking, melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Add raviolis and cook for a few minutes until coated in butter.
Transfer to a plate and top with Parmigiano-Reggiano, poppy seeds, sage, and crushed hazelnuts.
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- I'm Frankie Celenza and I'm discovering the best that Chicago has to offer. We're visiting farms and tasting food from the heartland. So come along for the ride as I savor Chicago. So I'm here at Pasta Fresh. We're gonna go inside and meet the owner, Tony Bartucci, and see how he makes all kinds of pasta. Hi, good morning, Tony.
- Good morning, welcome to Pasta Fresh.
- Thank you so much.
- Buongiorno, how are you?
- Nice to see you. Here, we manufacture fresh pasta.
- [Frankie] Yeah, look at that.
- We've been doing this for 27 years. We've been making pasta for restaurant and local family. Here, we have the homemade rigatoni, we make fresh daily.
- Smells really good.
- Here where we do the pasta sheets. We do the pasta sheet, it comes out of the machine and, from there, we do all the different type of pasta that we need to do.
- [Frankie] You just put that dough in top here and it comes out here?
- Yes, yes.
- It's much easier than the one I have at home. You do.
- [Frankie] Pasta's my favorite food. Are you sick of it yet? Do you still love it?
- No, I love, I love pasta. Everybody think that pasta's fattening but it's not true.
- No, I know.
- It's the ingredients you put with pasta. Look at this.
- Yeah, it's beautiful. Why, why semolina? How come not just--
- With semolina it's got a better, more texture and better taste than bleached flours. And it's more healthy also.
- That's a good answer.
- [Tony] We manufacture everything here. Everything that we sell, we produce here.
- [Frankie] That's the way it should be.
- Here we have freezer--
- How long do you think I'll survive in there?
- We do--
- We manufacture--
- Gnochi! How many pounds of pasta are you making every day, Tony?
- About five, 600.
- 600 pounds?
- Yeah, everyday, yes.
- [Frankie] Tina, are you from Calabria, also?
- [Tina] No, I'm from Bari.
- Bari? That's the heel. So you're from the toe and you're from the heel. That's cool, I'm a little higher up.
- OK. I'm like the ankle, you know. Abruzzo.
- Let me show, we can make some pasta sheets for you. You wanna make your own ravioli, am I right?
- I would like to--
- Why do you wanna do that? We can make the ravioli for you.
- I would love to see how you make the ravioli but I also wanna show--
- Okay, we can do the pasta sheets for you.
- OK. So, I'm gonna make some beet ravioli with your sheets.
- Great. Chef Rango, this is for you
- Lots of luck with the ravioli.
- Oh, thank you, I can't wait for you to try it.
- I definitely wanna try your ravioli.
- You're gonna love it.
- We're gonna compare your ravioli with mine, OK?
- Yes, OK, fine, fine, sounds good, thank you. I am back from the kitchen and Tony and Tina were nice enough to cook me some beets. So, they're hot. They're red. They're messy. And we need to peel them. If you can just get it started, sometimes you can. That was for illustration purposes, I swear. We don't really need to cut them any particular way, just have them sort of small enough that we can blend them. Do you see that like it looks like blood running down the plate. Ooh, that was good. The whole skin came off on that one. That is so awesome. I love it. I'm caught red-handed. You think I should wash my hands? I think I'm gonna wash my hands, we don't have to touch the beets any more so I'm gonna do that. We have our beets all peeled, they're cooked, they smell so good. It's gonna make an awesome filling. Alright, so, food processor or a blender. Beets, salt, a little bit of ricotta, that totally helps with the consistency of the filling and it makes it just a little bit creamy. Alright, let's see what happens here. Oh yeah. I mean that looks pretty good. Give it a taste. Creamy, warm, beety, and the salt level's perfect. We're gonna mix it with even more ricotta. So, it needs the gentle touch of a human hand. And now, we got our pasta sheet right here. I should be able to make six on this row. Alright, so, you can see how that added ricotta really made this a little bit lighter in color but also much firmer and that's super, duper important. Oh man, this is so hard with the spoon.
- [Cameraman] You're good, you're good, you're good.
- Tony's giving me thumbs up from the other room so I guess he approves. Here we go. This is the marriage. OK, holes in the top so we can get the air to escape. A little exhaust valve. And then you just kinda come in like this. The Karate Kid move. I'm gonna try and cut these and, hopefully, this will seal the pasta sheets together. Babbity boobity. There's one. OK, man, you know what? It's so much easier with a pasta machine. This is definitely a lavoraccio if you're going to do it for 20 people, you know.
- But, it looks nice already.
- Thank you very, very much, Tony. So, we have our 11 ravioli or stamps or whatever you wanna call them. They're nice and puffy, now it's time to boil them in the water. This is a super simple pasta, it's from Northern Italy. So, all we need to do is melt some butter. Try half a stick for 11. That should be enough. Now that the butter's melted, we're gonna get those ravioli. Ready? Just coat them lightly. Let's get it on the plate. They're totally ready now. Look at how pretty that looks. Look at that, look at that. They're pink, they're gorgeous, you can see just a little bit of brown butterness happening there. Now, parmigiano reggiano. Some poppy seeds. See how nice the contrast is with that? And we can finish with just a few hazelnuts in the middle there. That is exactly how I imagined it, which is, I think, pretty beautiful. I'm super excited to dig into this awesome beet-red center, we've got the black poppy seeds on there so that the eye can see the difference to all the light colors. I think it looks absolutely beautiful, let's see what it tastes like. Perfect pasta dough. Tony took care of that for me. That is so nice and delicious. Because this is a semolina pasta, it has just a little bit of toothiness to it but it's still really, really soft and the crunchiness of the hazelnuts and the little poppy seeds totally balance that out in an awesome way. Grazie mille for watching. For more episodes of Savor Chicago, join us right here on Tastemade.