Thursday, March 1, 2012

Feeding Friendship: Beet and Goat Cheese Manicotti

My googling suggests that this may be the first ever beet manicotti and I think the world has been missing out.  I was nervous that these weren't going to turn out.  When I put Geoff's plate in front of him, I promised him the frozen (homemade) pizza in the freezer if it was terrible.  But it wasn't.  It was amazing.

As with all beet recipes I enjoy, you have to start with roasting them in their skin.  We got a good number of beets when we belonged to a CSA and I learned that raw beets just don't do it for me.  To be honest, I don't bother to clean them that much or salt, pepper, or oil them before roasting.  Just rinse them a bit and then slip off the skins once they are fully cooked.  While the beets were roasting, I sauteed the beet greens to add to the sauce (which I forgot to do).  Then, I grated the cooled beets and combined them with the goat cheese and parsley to make the filling.

The great thing about using these fresh pasta sheets instead of manicotti shells is that you can just roll the filling up burrito-style instead of trying to stuff those darn tubes.  Feel free to do as I did and fill the pasta and make the sauce the night before so it just takes a few minutes to assemble the pasta the night you want to eat it.  I think the walnuts and panko on top are absolutely essential to add some texture to the dish.  I used pine nuts this time because I realized this week that I have three separate bags of pine nuts in the freezer.  How can you resist hot pink filled pasta?

Beet and Goat Cheese Manicotti
serves 4

3 medium beets, green attached
4 oz. soft goat cheese (chèvre)
1/4 c. parsley, minced
9 oz. fresh lasagna sheets
1/4 c. chopped walnuts or pine nuts
1/4 c. panko bread crumbs
1 c. grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp. flour
2 c. skim milk

1. Wrap beets in foil and roast for an hour at 400 degrees or until a paring knife can be inserted without resistance.

2. Meanwhile, remove stems and wash beet greens thoroughly.  Slice and simmer in a few tablespoons of water for approximately 15 minutes.  Reserve.

3. Sip off skins and cool before grating coarsely.

4. Mix grated beets with goat cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper.  Roll 2 heaping tablespoons of the beet mixture into each sheet of lasagna and place in a lightly oiled 9x13 inch pan.

5. Make béchamel: Melt butter and stir in flour, cooking for 3-4 minutes before slowly whisking in milk.  Bring to a simmer and stir in parmesan cheese, a small pinch of salt, and pepper to taste.  Mix in beet greens.

6. Pour sauce over manicotti and top with panko and nuts.  Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

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