Filed under: Main Course, Pasta & Rice | Tags: Pasta, Ravioli, Tomato sauce
My husband and I are old fuddy duddies. We prefer to stay in on New Years Eve, put the kids to bed, make a nice meal and try desperately to stay up until midnight. This year, we decided to have another cook-off to bring in the New Year and the challenge was pasta. My husband thinks he makes the best spaghetti around, and I will admit it is good, but he cheats. He uses premade meatballs, jarred pasta sauce and dried noodles (sorry to give away your secrets honey, but it’s true.) I thought I wanted to do ravioli and since he says he hates ravioli (not true) I knew the only way to get him to admit that my pasta was better was to make everything from scratch.
As always, his dish did turn out pretty good (see honey, I can give credit where credit is due) but mine was better. I mean, I did make everything from scratch. But I realized the recipe for the dough made a lot of raviolis and I knew I wasn’t going to eat them all that night-after all I had no chance to stay up to midnight if I was totally stuffed. So I froze half of the batch just to see if it was any good.
Well it worked. A few nights later I wanted something quick to make, filled with carbs and loaded with cheese and this hit the spot. Fresh pasta only takes a few minutes to cook, and even freezing the fresh stuff only added about another 30 seconds to the cooking time. I actually really loved this, because after all the prep work was done, fresh pasta on the table in less than 15 minutes is a winner in my book-plus it just looked so pretty!
Spinach Ravioli Stuffed with Four Cheeses
1 bunch of fresh spinach, finely chopped (in the end, I probably had about 2 tablespoons after I chopped it all down)
1 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large egg yolks
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup water
½ cup ricotta cheese
¼ cup shredded Italian cheese blend (I used parmesan, Asiago, Romano)
2-3 basil leaves, finely chopped
Tomato sauce for serving (I added some ground beef because I knew my husband wouldn’t “like” it without meat)
Combine the first seven ingredients in a food processor. Process until dough just forms into a ball.
Knead dough on a lightly floured surface, until smooth and elastic, 6 to 8 minutes, adding more flour if needed to keep it from sticking. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature 1 hour.
While the dough is resting, combine the cheeses, egg, basil, salt and pepper in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.
Follow directions on your pasta roller to roll out sheets of dough for ravioli. I used my Kitchen Aid pasta roller attachment and found that the fourth setting was the perfect thickness for the ravioli.
With your sheet of pasta dough laid out on a floured surface, place a teaspoon of filling across the dough, a few inches apart. Use a pastry brush to brush the other half of the dough with water and fold over the filling. Press around the filling to seal the edges. Using a ravioli cutter cut out the ravioli and place on a lined baking sheet.
At this point, you can freeze the ravioli for 30 minutes on the baking sheet or until it’s set, then place them in an airtight container in the freezer. I froze mine for a week and they tasted fresh, but I think they may keep for up to a month.
Alternately, if you are cooking the pasta right away, place individual ravioli into a pot of salted, boiling water, and being careful not to over crowd the pot. When the ravioli float to the surface, remove with a slotted spoon.
Serve with tomato sauce and extra cheese.
p.s. check out my link on this blog hop!
Filed under: Main Course | Tags: Italian sausage, Lasagna, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Ricotta, Tomato sauce
I mentioned in my previous post that this weekend is my husband’s birthday. I asked him weeks ago what he wanted me to make, and I shouldn’t have been surprised by his request: lasagna and a lemon cake with chocolate frosting. Ordinarily, this is a simple request. I should have known after the last three months in our host country that I wouldn’t be able to make a quick trip to the grocery store to get all the ingredients. It took me 6 trips to 5 different stores to get everything I needed. First, it started with the pork sausage. In the States, getting pork sausage, of many varieties is no big deal. In a country where most of its residents don’t eat pork…..let’s just say it was tricky. I tried 3 different kinds, from three different stores and still wasn’t totally satisfied. Oh, and then there was the cheese. Two stores looked at me like I was crazy when I asked if they carried ricotta. When I did find it, the price was staggering, but what is money when it comes to love?
However, once I finally got everything together, my little sous chefs and I had a nice morning putting together the lasagna. If nothing else, it was a labor of love.
I did have grand plans for the cake. My husband asks for a lemon cake with chocolate frosting every year, as it was what his mother made for him as a child. I was going to make the best lemony layer cake with rich butter cream frosting. But that darn lasagna took so much out of me, that I just didn’t have the energy. As much as I love to cook and spend time in the kitchen, I didn’t want to spend the whole day devoted to this meal and neglecting the birthday boy. So once I got the lasagna in the oven, I thought, I’ll just dress up a box cake mix. Of course, that was easier said than done. Three trips to two stores to find a simple lemon cake mix and chocolate frosting. Needless to say, the cake fell way short of what I had envisioned, but my husband still enjoyed it and the effort that was put forth (I think!)
Manly, Meaty, Birthday Lasagna
1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
4 cups tomato sauce (I used the same recipe from my chicken meatballs)
1 cup mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1/4 cup black olives
1 package oven ready lasagna noodles
14 oz. part skim ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded parmesan cheese, divided
1 tablespoon each basil, oregano, thyme
1 cup mozzarella cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brown and crumble the sausage over medium high heat. Drain grease and stir in tomato sauce, mushrooms and olives.
In a bowl, mix ricotta, parmesan, herbs, and egg. Add salt and pepper to taste.
To assemble the lasagna: place a small layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of lasagna pan. Add an even layer of noodles. Spread a thick layer of tomato and sausage. Add another even layer of noodles. Spread cheese mixture, then noodles. Repeat until all the sauce and cheese are used. Top with mozzarella cheese and parmesan.
Cover and bake 45 minutes, or until lasagna is set. Remove cover and bake an additional 15 minutes, or until cheese on top is browned and slightly crispy.
Remove the lasagna from the oven and rest for 15 minutes before serving.
My husband has had big grilling plans for this Labor Day Weekend. He was finally going to fire up our new (charcoal) grill. Hot dogs, hamburgers, steaks, sausage, corn, shrimp, were all on his menu. However, before we indulged in all that grilled and greasy goodness, I thought I’d kick off the weekend with something a little healthier.
Hamour is acommon local fish, the Arabian name for grouper. I read that it’s high in Omega-3’s. This was my first time cooking it, but it won’t be the last. It was perfect for grilling, very firm and meaty. While it was cooking, I thought it had a strong fishy smell, but the taste was very mild. When I tasted the fish, I was a little worried that my sauce would over power the mild and slightly sweet taste, but I think it complemented it well.
Grilled Hamour with Spicy Tomato and Cumin Sauce
2 pounds hamour filets
2 small limes
1 pound yellow and red grape tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons green onion, chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped, plus more for garnish
1 small green chili, chopped and seeds removed
1 large clove garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons cumin
salt and pepper to taste
To make tomato sauce: Preheat oven to 400. Toss tomatoes, oil, salt and pepper in a bowl. Place on a baking sheet and roast until the tomatoes start to blacken and burst, 10-15 minutes. Cool tomatoes. When cooled, puree tomatoes, onion, cilantro, green chili, garlic, cumin. Add juice and zest of 1 lime. Store sauce in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
To grill hamour: Prepare grill (in my case, get coals hot.) Squeeze juice of one lime over both sides of the filet and season with salt and pepper. Grill hamour 15 minutes, or until cooked through, turning half way through.
Serve grilled hamour with chilled tomato sauce, cilantro and extra lime wedges.
Filed under: Chicken, Main Course, Pasta & Rice | Tags: Chicken, Meatball, Spaghetti, Tomato sauce
I’m not a sneaky chef. I don’t want to spend hours pureeing coliflour to mix into mac and cheese just to get another serving of vegetables into my kids. No judgement for parents out there that do that, I have mommy friends who swear to this method of getting kids to eat veggies. I’m just not one of them. Call me crazy, but I have a theory that my kids will never learn to like vegetables if I’m hiding them in their food. However, with all that being said, one way I do like to add a few extra veggies is to meatballs. Using lean ground chicken also makes these meatballs lighter and healthier than ground beef.
Spaghetti with Chicken Meatballs
- 1 lb lean ground chicken
- 1 carrot, diced
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 1 bunch spinach, diced
- 1 tbs fresh basil
- 4 cloves garlic, diced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 slice stale bread
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 16 oz can whole peeled tomatoes (best quality available)
- 2 tbs tomato paste
- 1 tbs each, dried basil, dried thyme, dried sage
- 1 tsp dried red pepper flakes (optional)
- 250 grams dried spaghetti noodles
- Parmesan cheese (optional)
- To make meatballs: puree carrot, 1 onion, spinach, basil, 2 cloves garlic, salt until thick paste forms. Soak slice of bread in milk. Combine egg, bread, paste. Add chicken and mix until just combined, being careful not to mix too much. Form chicken mixture into balls and bake at 350 until cooked through, about 35 minutes
- To make tomato sauce: In pressure cooker, saute onions until translucent. Add dried herbs, tomato paste and garlic, saute one more minute. Add whole tomatoes, with juice and crush with a potato masher. Bring sauce to a boil for 2-3 minutes. Place cover on pressure cooker, and cook on medium high heat for 45 minutes. Add salt/pepper to taste.
- While meatballs bake and sauce cooks, bring large pot of water to a boil. Season water liberally with salt and add spaghetti. Cook spaghetti until shy of al dente. Drain spaghetti and immediately toss with tomato sauce.
- Serve spaghetti with more tomato sauce, meatballs and freshly shaved parmesan cheese.