Beet Ravioli with Root Vegetable Filling
November 8, 2009

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Ah, seasonal food. How sweet it is. How sweet, especially, at this time of year. Tomatoes and peppers still linger from August, while kale, carrots, and broccoli arrive by the bushel, and winter squash are just beginning to appear. There’s nothing quite like autumn.

In spite of the wear and tear that the impending holiday season can make on cooks, this remains my favorite time of the year to entertain. It allows me to showcase my favorite foods (dark greens, winter squash, broccoli, apples, carrots, beets – the list goes on and on) in all of their seasonal splendor, and with temperatures dropping outside, cozy dinners at home seem all the more appealing.

In honor of my favorite season, I’d like to start a new Choosing Raw tradition: the raw seasonal dinner party menu. With the advent of each new season, I’ll spotlight a high-raw, seasonal menu that you can use to entertain for friends, family, or just your roommate/companion. And I’ll do my best to ensure that they’re as accessible and tasty as they are 100% vegan, high-raw, and healthy.

I’ll begin with the dinner below, which I had the honor of serving to my pal Diana a few weeks ago. This meal was a true winner: comforting, cozy, and light at the same time. It began with a new soup creation that’s quickly rising to the very top of my list of favorite soups, and culminated in a half-cooked, half-raw beet “ravioli” that had Diana and I swooning in our stools (yeah, stools. I live in New York; high table dining is par for the course). It would be a perfect dinner to serve to anyone, raw or cooked, since it utilizes familiar flavors (root veggies, cinnamon) and textures (thick soup; crisp salad; tender ravioli). In short? It’s a winner. So much so, that I’m seriously contemplating making it for me and my mother on Christmas Eve (which, in practice, will mean a few bites for my intrepid mother, and the rest for me)—though I do try to concoct a new recipe each year for that occasion.

Without further ado, I present the Raw Autumn Dinner Party.

The Menu

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
Kale Salad with Red Cabbage and Carrots
Beet “Ravioli” Stuffed with Sweet Root Vegetable Mash

The dinner begins with the soup, which I’ve been making nonstop since I first perfected the recipe. I serve it cold, natch, but you could absolutely warm it on the stovetop if you like!

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Gena’s Raw Butternut Squash and Apple Soup (serves 2-4, depending on the appetites in question. If you’re making it for a group of four or more, you may want to double the recipe to be safe!)

4 cups butternut squash, chopped
1 cup fresh apple juice or cider
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup water (a bit less if you like a very thick soup)
2 large stalks celery
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
4 pitted and soaked dates (or 2 tbsps agave)
1 tsp salt
Dash of soy sauce
Dash of onion powder (or some fresh onion, if desired)

Blend all in a high speed blender till smooth and creamy.

If you don’t have a high speed blender, raw squash will really be a pain, so I recommend steaming the squash and celery very gently first. Then, blend away. You can serve it cool, or reheat on the stove post-blending.

Next up is the “ravioli.”

Begin with a simple root vegetable mash. This one was:

Sweet Potato and Turnip Mash

4 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 large turnips, peeled and chopped
1 heaping tbsp Dijon mustard
1 ½ tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsps agave
1 generous tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp salt (adjust to taste)
Pepper to taste

Steam the root vegetables for about twenty or thirty minutes, or until very fork tender. Put them in a food processor with the remaining ingredients and blend till very rich and smooth – you may have to stop often to scrape the sides of the bowl.

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To assemble the “ravioli,” slice red or yellow beets very thinly on a mandolin or by hand (it will be hard by hand, but not impossible!). You can also try a really great peeler or box grater.

Top each round of beet with about 1-2 tbsps of the warm veggie mash. Put another beet on top, and voila: a sweet, savory, and sumptuous half-raw pasta creation that will leave your guests smiling.

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Finally, the salad:

Massaged Kale Salad with Red Cabbage and Carrots (serves 4 modestly)

1 head kale, washed, de-stemmed, and chopped finely
1 ½ cups thinly sliced red cabbage
3 large carrots, grated
2 tbsp olive oil
1 avocado
¼ cup lemon juice
Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

Begin by massaging the oil into the kale with your hands. Stop when it’s slightly wilted down and tender. Then, chop up half of the avocado and smoosh it into the kale, too. Add the remaining veggies, the other half avocado, lemon juice, and season it all with Braggs to taste (you could of course use salt or nama shoyu here).

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Chew and savor!

Dessert could be anything you like. Avocado pudding or banana soft serve are always in season; you could also treat yourself to some fresh medjool dates (nature’s candy!) or dark chocolate. Ms. Diana was lucky enough to bring me a giant chocolate macaroon that fed two happy girls.

As far as procedure goes, I recommend the following:

Up to three days before the party:

Peel, chop, and store the butternut squash in an airtight container.

Day prior to party:

1)    Make the root vegetable mash. Put it in an airtight container and refrigerate.
2)    Slice the beets for the ravioli.
3)    Shred the carrots and cabbage for the salad; wash, spin, and chop the kale

Day of the party:

1)    Pre heat the oven to 125-150 degrees (or so). Put the root veggie mash in an oven-safe container and put it in the oven, covered in foil, to warm gently.
2)    Prepare the soup. If you want to, keep it in the oven in a pot while you make the salad.
3)    Assemble the kale salad.

If you take these steps, you should find that prepping for dinner on the day of the party takes no more than thirty minutes.

And the results, I promise you, are fabulous.

I hope this post shows you that you needn’t go crazy with raw cookbooks and dehydrators to put together a high-raw meal that guests will love. The best raw food—the best food of any kind—is simple, no-nonsense fare that highlights in-season produce without a lot of fuss.

And now, I’m off to contemplate what dinner party menus winter will afford me. Stay tuned!

xo

Edited to add: My friend Katie is hosting a very special, very worthy November mission at her blog. It’s called Operation Chocolate-Covered Kindness, and it’s helping her to raise money for two worthy charities. You can help her simply by going over to the blog and checking out some of her wonderful recipes (including a recent slew of raw desserts and sweets). Please join me in supporting her!

Categories: Gluten Free, Main Dishes

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    59 Comments
  1. Hi Gena,

    Just discovered your site and I’m amazed!!! I love the way you put together full menus and not only dishes! it is very inspirational! I’ll try the winter/holiday one this weekend 🙂

  2. This post has me drooling (as your posts always do)! I feel silly saying this, but I didn’t know you could eat squash without cooking it first… I am definitely going to try this soup! (And everything else, but the soup is now top priority.)

  3. Hey Gena,

    Just stumbled upon your blog last week when googling for raw dishes etc. My husband and I just jumped on the raw bandwagon after experimenting with it a bit over the past 6 or 7 months. I have to say your recipes are an inspiration and I’ve found your site really helpful thus far. We have a friend’s annual thanksgiving party to go to this weekend and were talking about what to make and bring so that we’d have something to eat instead of just drooling on everyone else’s mashed potatoes and stuffing. This will be perfect. Thanks so much for posting it.

    Also loved the banana soft serve! I’ve made it twice in the last week. Once with cacao powder and dates mixed in and once straight up. So good!

  4. I can’t wait to try the ravioli–i’m starting to crave beets and will definitely try this recipe out!

    Tried the soup…sorry to say i didn’t like it! I think I just have an issue with raw soup unless it’s more juice like (not a big fan of cooked soup either now that I think about it). Good thing I love salad! (and ravioli).

  5. Hi Gena –

    This is completely off topic, but I was wondering whether you incorporate any macrobiotic principles into your eating style, and/or if you can shed some light on how those principles are interwined (or not) with your own nutritional aspirations. Any insight would be greatly appreciated as I know you to be a credible credible source on such matters and always have a simple way of explaining complex issues.

    Many thanks!

    Katie

  6. what a beautiful collection of recipes! that ravioli is screaming my name 😀
    such an amazing cheffer <3
    xoxo

  7. We are as far apart in the US as possible… I’m way over in Alaska and trying to figure out how to get over to NY for a dinner party!

    Seriously… love your site and can’t wait to visit again!

    S

  8. This all looks soooo good! Just one question, I assume you use raw beets? Are they easy to slice and peel?

  9. Am I the luckiest commenter here or what? I will add to these comments the personal testimony of AWESOME. And I have been adding Bragg’s to my kale salads ever since.

    I love this idea of creating raw menus for entertaining, too. Ultra-accessible to the raw-curious (or perhaps even not so curious).

    Alas, I fear tomorrow night’s menu will not be quite up to entertaining-status, but I’m banking on simple and Gena-friendly being enjoyable anyway! The one original recipe I’m trying to come up with is occupying all my brain power at the expense of other interesting courses. Just rest assured there’ll be plenty of kale, haha. 🙂

    So glad I got to be your holiday season guinea pig! 😉

  10. Hey Gena!
    Thanks so much for your wonderful blog. I stumbled upon it about two months ago and I love all your raw recipes! They’re especially great because they are so simple. I do have a question for you: what toothpaste do you use/recommend? Thanks again for your candid outlook on eating raw! 🙂

  11. You’re a total genius, this menu is to-die-for! I can’t wait to recreate everything, especially that soup. Question- could 1/2 or 1 apple substitute for the apple juice? My extreme case of laziness makes it impossible for me to dirty the juicer for it. 😉

  12. can i come to your place for thanksgiving instead of my aunt’s? this meal would make me very, very happy.

    i think the number one reason i make your recipes more than anyone else’s is because they are so simple and accessible, yet so flavorful. all of these are no exception, i’m sure!

  13. Great post Gena….soup, salad, entree and even dessert suggestions. Wow, nice work! I love that you dont use onion, garlic, fancy equip, or cookbooks with an ingredient list that includes things like coconut creme paste, lucama, mesquite or the like. Simple, seasonal, high raw, delish.

    Now for the $64,000 question…do you eat the beet bites in one bite or two? One would be a huge mouthful, two would splooge filling everywhere and/or it’s hard to crunch that much beet at once LOL but these are the things I think of, esp. when you said “dinner party fare”. Nothing like a guest with turnip mash running down her face…that would be me.

    🙂

  14. I just made a squash-apple soup this week and it was amazingly good. I’ve had butternut soup before but with the apple? A match made in heaven. (I threw in a sweet potato too and some curry – awesome!)

    I too have referred to dates as nature’s candy! Well, really I put a little almond butter inside and call it nature’s cookie – details details. 😉

    Love your new Choosing Raw tradition idea! I never really paid attention to all fruits and vegetables that come into season as the wheel of the year turns – now it’s one of my favorite parts of the change of the season! Which new foods do we get to eat in abundance! 😀

  15. Wow. I need to make that soup and the sweet potato mash — heaven! Thank you for this! Also, I just tasted acorn squash for the first time and I am in love. I just bought two!

  16. Oh that soup looks amazing. And I love beets, but never really know how to incorporate them into a “meal” – thanks for the lovely ideas. 🙂

  17. Gena-I just made the Raw Butternut Squash and Apple Soup and…OH MY GOODNESS!! It is soo good. It tastes like dessert. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your recipe!

    Julie

  18. I’m not vegan (or vegetarian, for that matter), but everything on your site makes me drool! Thank you so much for the inspiring photos and words! Although I don’t aspire to be a vegan, you constantly introduce me to new food combinations and ideas – you rock!

  19. What an awesome idea… thanks for sharing it! I love entertaining, but find myself doing less and less of it these days.

  20. Vibrant colors, delectable ingredients. I can’t wait to try the beet ravioli! And the butternut squash soup sounds sooo good on a cold winter evening… or morning, even!

  21. So I’m hopping on the plane with Mama Pea and coming to your house for a dinner party. And until I get my ticket I’m going to revel at the idea of using raw beets as ravioli .

  22. My dad and I are both reading this post right now, and we BOTH agree that your menu sounds absolutely delicious. Yes, you’re catering our next party 😀

  23. You are a genius! These recipes would be great for the holidays too. How do you find the time for this, Lady?! Hope you have a fantastic Sunday. Sending you lots of love and light.

    xo