Archive for the 'one dish' Category

Swiss Chard & Ricotta Tortelli

tortelli 4 Swiss Chard & Ricotta Tortelli

I may be spoiled for pasta now.

On the first morning of our first day in Italy, we walked to the Academia Barilla, an institute in Parma dedicated to the preservation of Italian food culture. (And to that end, the Academia Barilla Gastronomic Library houses a collection of over 11,000 cookbooks dating back to the 16th century – it’s open to the public and can be accessed online. More on that later, because WOW.)

making pasta Swiss Chard & Ricotta Tortelli

We were set up with little piles of flour and dark-yolked eggs, and mixed up dough the way you see them do it on TV – not in a bowl, but by making a little volcano out of the flour and cracking the eggs in, then stirring/corralling the eggs as they try to escape from ditches in the flour until it all comes together into a smooth, yellow dough that’s oh-so satisfying to run through a pasta machine into smooth, thin sheets, then cut into piles of ribbons or fill with chard and ricotta.

A twentysomething journalist from Brazil was in our group, and reminisced about his Italian Grandmother’s kitchen on a Sunday afternoon, when they would all gather around the table and assemble whatever shape of pasta was on the menu for Sunday lunch, which lasted until dinnertime.

Tortelli Collage Swiss Chard & Ricotta Tortelli

They talked and caught up around the table, as we got to know each other around ours. It’s fascinating to me that it’s not unusual there to begin dinner by cracking eggs into a pile of flour, much like we might truss a chicken or mix up a meatloaf; fresh pasta is quick, inexpensive and simple, not a special weekend project like it most often is here. In creative English, a local chef told us that tortelli – called ravioli everywhere but in Parma – was a great way to use up scraps of leftovers and veggies that were starting to wilt and might otherwise wind up in the compost bin.

Tortelli 1 Swiss Chard & Ricotta Tortelli

It was the first of many plates of tortelli – interestingly, no matter where we went, most of them were stuffed with ricotta and chard, tossed in butter and doused in grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. (Natch.)

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Tortelli Collage1 585x310 Swiss Chard & Ricotta Tortelli

I love how the stuffed, uncooked tortelli look like little planets.

And what better side for fresh pasta than more pasta? (Apologies for the artificial light here.)

Tortelli 3 Swiss Chard & Ricotta Tortelli

I also kind of love that this recipe is delivered with the presumption that the reader has a basic knowledge of cooking. I left it as-is, except for the pasta dough instructions, which were originally merely “mix flour with the egg”. If you don’t have a ravioli pan, which are inexpensive at most Italian markets, you can fill them flat on the counter, then cut in between. Just make sure you squeeze out any air pockets as you seal them, lest they wind up their own wee floatation devices in the pot.

Swiss Chard & Ricotta Tortelli

via Academia Barilla

Fresh pasta dough:
300 g all-purpose flour
3 large eggs

250 g fresh ricotta
300 g Swiss chard
150 g Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
100 g butter
salt, to taste
freshly grated nutmeg, to taste

Place the flour in a pile on your work surface. Make a well in the top and crack in the eggs. Stir gently with a fork, then continue to blend, using your hands, until the dough comes together. Wrap in plastic or cover with a towel and let rest for 30 minutes.

Wash and clean the Swiss chard; cook in salted boiling water. Drain, squeeze and finely mince.

Mix the Swiss chard with ricotta, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and 3/4 of the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

Roll out the pasta dough with a pasta machine in order to obtain a sheet.

Place some filling on one half of the sheet; fold the other half on top.

Seal properly with your hands and, using a pasta cutter, cut the tortelli.

Cook in salted boiling water, drain them and sauté them in melted butter.

Sprinkle with the rest of the Parmigiano and serve.

button print gry20 Swiss Chard & Ricotta Tortelli

June 24 2014 | one dish and pasta | 6 Comments »

Shrimp & Grits with a Fried Egg

Shrimp Grits 2 Shrimp & Grits with a Fried Egg

I came back home from Miami with a pound of grits in my bag, just because I could.

Shrimp Grits 1 Shrimp & Grits with a Fried Egg

Grits are popular in the southern states – they’re made of cornmeal, simmered until thick, just like cream of wheat. (Did you love cream of wheat as a kid? I still do. I rarely have it, in order to preserve that taste of nostalgia.) You can simmer your grits with milk to make it creamier, and add soft roasted garlic or minced jalapenos to spice it up, or a big handful of grated aged cheddar in this case, to provide a bed for buttery, spicy shrimp.

grits Shrimp & Grits with a Fried Egg

I always forget how quickly I can cook up a pan of shrimp – with butter, garlic and a shake of dry barbecue rub, they’re done in under three minutes. How much faster can food get? And while I have a pan buttery and hot, it’s too tempting to crack in an egg to catch those flavourful bits. More drippy yolk for those cheesy grits to catch.

Shrimp Grits 3 Shrimp & Grits with a Fried Egg

Shrimp & Grits with a Fried Egg

2 cups water
1 cup milk
3/4 cup grits
pinch salt
1 cup grated aged Gouda or white cheddar
2 Tbsp. butter
salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 lb. raw, peeled, tail-on shrimp
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 Tbsp. dry barbecue rub (optional)

fresh Italian parsley, torn or chopped
eggs, for frying (optional)

In a medium saucepan, bring the water and milk to a simmer. Slowly whisk in the grits and add the salt; cook, whisking often over medium heat, for 5-10 minutes, or until thickened to the consistency of cream of wheat. Stir in the grated cheese and butter and season with salt and pepper.

Set a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add the butter and oil. When the foam subsides, add the garlic and cook for a minute, then add the shrimp and sprinkle with barbecue rub. Cook, turning the shrimp as you need to, moving them around the pan, just until they turn opaque. Divvy the grits between shallow bowls and top them with shrimp. If you like, crack some eggs into the pan (as many as people you’re feeding) and cook them sunny side up or over easy in the spicy butter in the pan. Place them alongside the shrimp and dribble any butter left in the pan overtop. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.

Serves 4-6.

pixel Shrimp & Grits with a Fried Egg
button print gry20 Shrimp & Grits with a Fried Egg

May 21 2014 | grains and one dish and seafood | 132 Comments »

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