Of all the flavorings that are added to pasta dough, beet imparts the most dramatic color, but the intensity of the crimson tint fades to a soft, muted ivory pink when cooked.
1medium beet or 3 small onesyields 1 tbsp cooked puree
2 1/2Cups300g 00 flour (a little less if using unbleached all-purpose flour), plus extra to dust
3extra large eggs
1. Scrub the beet and remove the outer leaves, but leave the stem intact at the base to prevent color leaching out as the beet boils. Place the beet in a pan, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat until tender, 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on size.
2. Drain the beet and, when cool enough to handle, slip off the skin. Grate or mash the beet finely by hand, or puree in a food processor. Leave the pulp to drain in a sieve for about 1 hour or overnight. Measure out exactly 1 level tablespoon of puree.
4. Combine the flour and salt, if using, directly on a large pastry board or smooth work surface. Make a well in the center of the flour. Lightly beat the eggs with oil and beet puree then pour the mixture into the well.
5. Using a fork, gradually draw in the flour from the inside wall of the well. Beat gently in a constant direction to prevent air pockets from forming. Use your free hand to protect the outer wall until the wet mixture is well integrated.
6. When the mixture becomes too stiff to work with a fork, scrape the dough from the fork into the well and continue forming the dough with your hands. Draw in the flour very gradually from the bottom of the wall, again being careful to keep air out of the dough and prevent air pockets from forming.
7. Continue forming the dough into a very soft ball. It should be firm enough to handle, but soft and very pliable. If there is too much flour to be absorbed, do not use it all. Conversely, work in a little more flour if necessary. The perfect consistency is soft but not sticky, responsive to being touched and worked with.
8. Using the heels of your hands, flatten the dough ball and knead it from the middle outward, folding it in half after working it each time. Knead both sides, maintaining a round shape, for about 10 minutes, until the dough is even and elastic.
9. Cover the dough with an inverted bowl or plastic wrap and let it rest for 15 minutes, or up to 3 hours.
Mixing Dough in a Food Processor Pasta dough can be mixed in a food processor. Place the dry ingredients in the bowl. Combine the eggs, oil, if using, salt, and any other flavoring such as tomato paste separately, then pour into the bowl. Turn the machine on and process until a ball is formed and the ingredients are well mixed. If the mixture is to dry to form a ball, add a little water and pulse once.