Vegetables as pasta is a useful health trick for the home cook -- especially those looking to cut carbs or are gluten-free. And for a dish that will surely wow at the dinner table, consider Lexington Brass' beet "ravioli."

The winter appetizer features red and golden beets cut into circles and filled with goat cheese, accompanied by a frisee salad and candied walnuts.

Executive Chef Cesar Gutierrez was inspired to make the play on pasta as an alternative to the ubiquitous beet salad.

"I wanted to make a beet salad for the menu, but everybody has a beet salad," says Gutierrez, who came up with the idea during a trip to a farmer's market after seeing candy cane beets displayed next to a pasta stand. "I think it's super fun and super playful." The colorful dish uses both red and golden beets for some contrast, and is plated with a broken vinaigrette that uses the scraps from trimming the beets so nothing goes to waste.

Gutierrez recommends buying the largest beets you can find, which will make it easier to keep the goat cheese filling inside.

The beets are fully cooked when the skin peels off easily -- you don't want to poke them with a knife, says the chef, otherwise you'll have cracks once you start slicing them to make the ravioli.

You should peel them right away and, when cool, slice them as thin as possible. For the goat cheese, any brand will do "as long as it's chalky," says Gutierrez, who recommends letting it sit out to get soft before making the filling.

The recipe also calls for a frisee salad of fennel and chives, though greens like watercress will work too.

The beets are also topped with candied walnuts for a bit of a crunch, which you can make or buy at the grocery store to save time.

Everything can be prepped the day before and assembled the next day, which can make for a fun activity for you and your guests, recommends Gutierrez. If you're not up for making the ravioli, everything can also be tossed together for, yes, a beet salad.

 

Beet “ravioli” with goat cheese and frisee salad

Serves 4
 
2 large golden beets

2 large red beets

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup sherry vinegar

1 gallon water

1 tbsp. coriander

1 tbsp. black peppercorn

2 pieces of bay leaves

1/4 bunch of thyme

Heavily salted
 
Place all ingredients in a pot and put to a gentle simmer for approximately 25-30 minutes (beets will peel easily when done). Cool the beets in an ice bath.
 
Goat cheese filling

1 log goat cheese

2 tbsp. half and half

4 tbsp. parsley, finely chopped

4 tbsp. chives, chopped

3 tbsp. dill, finely chopped

Salt to taste
 
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk thoroughly. Store in piping bags.

 

Beet “ravioli”

Slice beets thinly on mandolin (should be almost see-through). Separate large discs and smaller discs. Lay out smaller beet slices on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper and pipe a generous amount of goat cheese filling into the center.

Place larger beet slices on top and punch out the biggest ring mold possible. Separate golden and red beets and store in different pans, shingled.

 

Candied walnuts

2 cups walnuts

1 cup sugar

2 tbsp. cinnamon powder

2 tbsp. light brown sugar

1/2 cup water
 
Combine all ingredients except walnuts. Bring to a boil and cook until it’s a thick syrup. Toss with walnuts in a large mixing bowl. Place on sheet trays with a silpat in an even layer and bake at 325 degrees for 30-40 minutes, moving them around every 10 minutes.

 

Frisee salad

2 tbsp. sherry vinegar

1/2 cup walnut oil

Fennel, thinly sliced

Chives, chopped

Salt to taste
 
Mix the sherry vinegar, walnut oil and salt thoroughly. Dress the fennel and chives with the vinaigrette.
 


Broken vinaigrette

Red beet scraps

1/4 cup olive oil
 
Puree all the red beet scraps until smooth. Take 1<HS-1>/<HS-1>2 cup of this and whisk in olive oil.

 

Final plating instructions

Using a white round plate, place the red beet ravioli at 10 o’clock. Alternate between the yellow and red going toward 7 o’clock, leaving a 1-inch space from the edge of the plate and the ravioli. There should be four pieces in total. Add a sprinkle of chopped chives and candied walnuts on top of the beets. At 1 o’clock, place the dressed frisee salad in a bunch. Going from 6 o’clock to 2 o’clock, add the broken vinaigrette.