"Aside from making fresh bread, I can think of no greater pleasure in the kitchen than making fresh pasta," says Alvarez. "With the abundance of vegetables available in spring, make a filling with almost anything for a vegetarian-friendly course. Beet and carrot offer a subtle sweetness that works well as a filling and hazelnuts add crunch and nuttiness."
- 200 gm (about 8) baby beetroot, trimmed and scrubbed
- 6 thyme sprigs
- 60 ml (¼ cup) olive oil
- 180 gm firm ricotta
- 30 gm pecorino, finely grated, plus extra to serve
- 8 baby carrots, peeled
- 70 gm butter, coarsely chopped
- 2 leeks (white part only), rinsed and thinly sliced
- 50 gm roasted hazelnuts, coarsely crushed
- To serve: poppy seeds and baby rocket leaves
- 125 gm "00" flour
- 50 gm egg yolks (about 3)
- 1 egg
- ½ tsp olive oil
- For dusting: semolina
- 1Preheat oven to 200C. Combine beetroot, half the thyme and half the olive oil in a roasting pan, season to taste, cover with foil and roast until tender (1½-1¾ hours). When cool enough to handle, peel beetroot (discard thyme), then pulse in a small blender until coarsely mashed and transfer to a bowl. Add half the ricotta and half the pecorino and season to taste. Combine carrots, remaining thyme and remaining olive oil in a separate roasting pan, season to taste, cover with foil and roast until tender (1½-1¾ hours). Discard thyme and pulse carrots in a small blender until coarsely mashed, transfer to a bowl, then add remaining ricotta and remaining pecorino, and season to taste.
- 2Melt 20gm butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat, add leek and sauté until tender (6-7 minutes). Add half the leek to beetroot mixture and remaining leek to carrot mixture, mix each well to combine and refrigerate until required.
- 3For pasta dough, combine flour and a pinch of salt on a work surface, then make a well in the centre. Combine egg yolks, egg and olive oil in a bowl, then add to well and mix with a fork, incorporating flour little by little until a dough starts to form (you may not need all the flour). Bring dough together and knead until smooth and elastic (at least 10 minutes), then wrap in plastic wrap and rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
- 4Halve dough then, working with a piece at a time, flatten dough and roll it through a pasta machine at the largest setting, dusting with flour as necessary to prevent sticking. Fold, then pass through again. Repeat rolling and folding, reducing settings notch by notch, until pasta is thin enough to see your hand through. Cut into manageable lengths and place on a tray dusted with semolina, sprinkling semolina between each sheet to prevent sticking and covering with a damp tea towel until finished rolling. Cut out 7cm rounds with a cutter, then place a teaspoonful of beetroot filling at the centre of half the rounds, lightly mist with water (if you don't have a spray bottle, run a wet finger around the edges) and fold to form half-moons and seal edges, pressing out air bubbles as you go. Repeat with carrot filling and remaining pasta, then place in a single layer on a tray dusted with semolina.
- 5Cook pasta in batches in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente (2-3 minutes), transfer to a large frying pan with a slotted spoon, add a splash of pasta water and remaining butter and cook over medium-high heat, tossing occasionally, until a light sauce forms. Season to taste and serve hot scattered with hazelnuts, poppy seeds, baby rocket and extra pecorino.
Drink Suggestion: With quite a few earthy vegetables here, a medium-bodied unwooded chardonnay from Burgundy such as Verget Mâcon-Bussières Vieilles Vignes de Montbrison would keep the freshness of the dish. Drink suggestion by Franck Moreau