Showing posts with label Pasta. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pasta. Show all posts

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sweet Potato Lasagna with Brown Butter Cream Sauce

This lasagna was born from leftover ravioli filling I made during a ladies night cooking feast at my house.  I had some ladies over to teach them how to bake bread and make ravioli and what a blast we had.  I love it when friends come pounding at my door to infiltrate my house for a night of cooking, laughter and wine.  When my dear friend Danesa asked if she and a couple of her friends could come over and learn to a cook a few things with me, how could I say no?

I pondered over what we should make and finally decided on focaccia bread and a sweet potato ravioli I'd been drooling over for awhile on Picture Perfect Meals.  I picked these items because people often think that making bread from scratch if hard or even impossible and I always love opening up people's eyes to how easy it really can be.  The same goes for pasta, although it helps tremendously to have a pasta roller which, perhaps, everyone doesn't have in their kitchen.

The night was a wild success and a wild amount of fun.  Seriously, with all these awesome ladies and kiddos taking over the kitchen, how could it not have been a blast?  Plus, the food was out of this world and everyone was pretty impressed in what we rolled out of the kitchen in only, ahem, five short hours. 

The next day I found myself staring at an obnoxious amount of sweet potato ravioli filling and wondering what the heck to do with it.  I am very much a recipe cook, and have only recently started branching out and trying a few of my own creations.  One thing I do know how to make recipeless, and darn good too, is cream sauce.  I also know that brown butter makes everything taste better.  Could I possibly turn this into a brown butter cream sauce?  I am positive that God was speaking to me at this point, because who else could have put such a divine thought into my head?  Woo wee, am I glad I listened closely to that voice and made this sauce.  I'm not gonna lie, this lasagna is rich, but its that kind of rich that melts in your mouth and tells your whole heart, body and soul that life is soooo-ooo-ooo good.


Sweet Potato Lasagna with Brown Butter Cream Sauce
8-10 servings

3 large sweet potatoes
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup creamy ricotta (recipe here, or storebought will do too)
1/2 cup parmesan, grated + 1/4 cup for topping
1 1/2 teaspoons ground sage
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg
1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded

(store bought noodles will work too, but I prefer the taste and texture of fresh pasta)
3 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon olive oil

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk (I used whole milk)
1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup pecans, toasted and roughly chopped

Make the filling: Preheat oven to 425F.  Scrub the sweet potatoes and then prick them all over with the tines of a fork.  Place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 45-55 minutes, or until a fork inserted in the middle passes easily through.  Allow to cool completely, then cut in half and scoop the middle out into a large bowl.  Add all remaining filling ingredients, except 1/4 cup parmesan and mozzarella, and stir to thoroughly combine.  Set aside. 

Make the noodles: Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until it forms a soft shaggy dough.  Dump out onto the counter and knead into a ball.  If not using immediately, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in the fridge.

Cut the dough in quarters and, taking one section at a time, run through a pasta roller to the third thinnest setting (this is a 6 on my KitchenAid roller).  Lay on a generously floured counter.  Repeat with remaining dough pieces. 

Just before assembling the lasagna, bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, until barely cooked through (they'll finish cooking in the oven).  Drain.

Make the Sauce: In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat until brown and the butter has a nutty fragrance, 6-8 minutes. Watch the butter carefully to avoid burning and add the flour when the butter has just turned brown.  Whisk the butter and flour constantly for one minute, then add the milk.  Whisk the milk constantly over medium heat until the sauce starts to thicken, 7-8 minutes.  When the sauce has thickened, remove from the heat and stir in the salt.

Assemble the lasagna: Set oven temperature to 375F.  Lightly spray the bottom of a 9 x 13" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Spread 1/2 cup cream sauce on the bottom of the baking dish.  Layer noodles to cover the bottom of the dish.  Spoon half of the sweet potato filling on top of noodles and cover with 1/2 cup sauce.  Repeat with one more noodle, sweet potato, sauce layer and then add another layer of noodles to the top.  Spoon the remaining sauce on top of the noddles then sprinkle with reserved 1/4 cup parmesan and mozzarella. 

Bake covered with tin foil for 20 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake an additional 15-20 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and bubbly.

Allow to sit for 5 minutes before cutting.  Serve with a sprinkling of the toasted pecans.  Then you should probably...

Eat it!! 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Roasted Beet & Brown Butter Pasta

I originally found this recipe when I was conjuring up new ideas for the plethora of beets we got in our CSA.  CSAs are awesome, but at certain times throughout the season they inundate participants with more of one vegetable than any family could possibly eat.  Beets were one of these things.

This meal has quickly become a favorite in our household.  I've even seen self-proclaimed beet haters take a liking to this pasta.  It says a lot about this dish.  Although, as we all know , a little brown butter makes everything taste better (and we all know this, right? If you don't, you should hop up on my little bandwagon).  Once the beets are roasted, this dish is very quick to put together.  Seconds.  Okay, I lie.  Naughty!  But it doesn't take long. 

This dish is beautiful...brilliantly red from the beets and topped with crumbled goat cheese.  Its a Valentine on a plate.  Can't you just see the look on your sweetie's face when they walk in the door on Valentine's Day and see this for dinner?  Pure love.


Roasted Beet & Brown Butter Pasta
Adapted from Epicurious

Makes 4 generous servings

1 pound red beets, scrubbed and greens removed
1 pound fresh fettuccine (I made my own from this recipe, but store-bought would work too)
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp poppy seeds, heaping
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup reserved pasta water
4 oz goat cheese

Preheat oven to 400F.  Wrap the beets in tin foil and place on a baking sheet.  Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the beets are tender when pierced with a fork.  Set aside to cool.

Once the beets have cooled, rub the skin off and roughly chop.  Place beets in a food processor and pulse until very finely chopped. 

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil for the pasta.  When the water boils, add the pasta and cook for 3-5 minutes or until cooked through.  Drain the pasta reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta water for the sauce.

Meanwhile, add butter to a large skillet on medium-high heat.  When the butter has melted and is starting to brown add the poppy seeds.  Continue cooking until the butter is a deep golden brown color.  Once this happens, quickly add the pureed beets, reserved pasta water and salt, stirring to combine.  Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and cook until heated through and the sauce covers the pasta uniformly.

Serve topped with crumbled goat cheese and then...


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tuscan Spinach & Mushroom Roll

So, here it is ladies and gentlemen.  The recipe you've all been waiting for...the recipe I have been aluding to for days, maybe weeks, now.  The greatest recipe of all time.  May I present to you...

Tuscan Spinach & Mushroom Roll.


I originally found this recipe in a cookbook I picked up when we were in Florence, Italy a couple of years ago.  Its titled simply Tuscan Cookbook and is a collection of recipes from two Australian women, Maggie Beers and Stephanie Alexander.  These women spent a summer in Tuscany hosting week-long cooking schools.  Oh, I am green with envy when I read this cookbook.  There are pictures of these fine women and their students cooking, drinking wine, eating, perusing local markets, filling their tummies and souls with Tuscan food and culture.  I promise you this, someday one of those students will be me.  This is a dream of mine, and one I believe to be attainable. 

This is a special occasion meal, no doubt.  This meal takes time and forethought and love.  I adore this meal and I am certain it turns out so well because of the love I pour into it while I am cooking.  I firmly believe that love is a huge, if not the biggest, ingredient in cooking or baking.  I have never made a terrific meal when I am in a bad mood.  I have made this four times and I have had the opportunity to share the process with two of the moms in my life on separate occassions.  This was such a joy for me.

Easter with my Mama

Christmas with my Mom-in-Law

I don't usually post step by step photos with the instruction in my recipes, but I am going to post a few this time because some of the steps are complex.  But, please believe me, this meal is worth every second you put into it.  This meal is a journey and one that you will fall in love with at the end. 

I always serve this with this Focaccia Bread  recipe, because it pairs well together.  You should too.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to you all!

Tuscan Spinach and Mushroom Roll

Serves 8

6 whole eggs
4 cups (560 grams) all purpose flour
2 Tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 cups (12 oz) cooking sherry
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Red onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp Oregano, chopped
30 oz blanched (or thawed, frozen) spinach, water wrung out (see tip here)
zest of one lemon
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
12 oz fresh shiitakes, or other field mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 cups homemade ricotta (recipe here), or 1-15.5 oz container store bought
1/3 cup Parmesan, freshly grated
1 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 cup unsalted butter
16 sage leaves

Special Equipment
Pasta roller
2 CLEAN, large sized tea towels
Kitchen string

To make the pasta: Make in two separate batches.  Combine 3 eggs, 2 cups flour and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a food processor and pulse until the dough comes together.  If the dough still seems dry and will not stick together when pinched, add a teaspoon of water at a time until it comes together.  Knead briefly and shape into a disk.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.  Repeat with remaining ingredients.  Pasta can be made up to 8 hours ahead.

To make the mushroom filling: Warm 1/4 cup of sherry in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add the dried porcini mushrooms to the pan. Add the remaining sherry a few tablespoons at a time until the mushrooms have been reconstituted to an edible softness.  This will take about 20-25 minutes.  Drain the mushrooms, being sure to reserve the sherry remaining in the pan.  Gently rinse the porcinis to remove any grit.

Heat olive oil in the same pan, then add garlic and saute on medium heat for a couple minutes.  Add the shiitakes and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes.  Lower the heat to medium and add the reconstituted porcinis.  Cook for 20 minutes, adding the reserved sherry a little at a time until it all has been incorporated.  If there is sherry left in the pan, turn the heat up and cook until all liquid is evaporated.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool.  Once cool, roughly chop.  Mushroom filling can be made one day ahead of time.

To make the spinach filling: Heat 3 tbsp butter over medium heat and cook the onion until softened.  Add the oregano, spinach and lemon zest.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool.  Once cooled, add the ricotta, parmesan and nutmeg and stir to combine.  Spinach filling can be made one day ahead of time.

Assemble the pasta roll: Lay one tea towel out on a large clean work surface.  Remove pasta dough from fridge and divide into four pieces, keeping dough covered with plastic when not being used.  Run one piece of dough through the pasta machine on the second thinnest setting (this is a 6 on my Kitchenaid pasta roller) and lay on the tea towel.  With your finger or a pastry brush, wet about 1/2" along the long edge of the dough facing you.  Repeat with another piece of dough and lay this piece next to the first, overlapping the long edges where the water was brushed.  Gently seal the two pieces of pasta together. Cut the short edges to square them off (like the right side below).

Spoon half of the mushroom mixture onto the middle of the pasta sheet closest to you.  Spread half of the spinach mixture over the top pasta sheet.

Fold a small edge from the short sides of the pasta over. Starting from the mushroom edge, carefully and tightly roll the pasta and then seal the edge with water.

Wrap the tea towel tightly around the pasta then take kitchen string and tie it around the tea towel as shown below:

Repeat this process with the remaining dough and fillings.

Bring a very large stockpot of water to a boil.  Add one roll to the pot and boil for 20 minutes. 

Meanwhile, melt the 1/2 cup of unsalted butter over medium heat until it is golden brown and has a nutty aroma, about 8-10 minutes.  Keep on eye an the butter though because it will turn from golden brown to black in an instant.  Pour the brown butter into a spouted measuring cup.  Add the sage leaves to the hot pan and cook until crisped, about 1 minute.  Transfer to a paper towel and set aside.

After 20 minutes, remove the roll from the boiling water using two sets of kitchen tongs and place on a large cutting board.  Be very careful not to burn yourself because the roll is heavy and awkward and really hot!  Add the second roll to the boiling water for 20 minutes.

Allow the roll to cool for about 5 minutes and then carefully cut the string and unroll the towel.  Transfer the pasta roll to a cutting board and cut into 2 inch slices.  Place 3 or 4 slices on a plate and drizzle with brown butter and garnish with sage.  And then finally...finally...because you totally earned can...

Eat it!!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fresh Pasta with Tomato & Mushroom Sauce

There is something about a simple Italian dish that makes life feel robust, full, delightful.  Especially when you share it with loved ones.  My brother, Zach, is in town this weekend and I am beyond excited to have someone to cook for and with for a few days.  In my usual fervor of anticipating a weekend of cooking, I started pouring over the recipes I have tucked away in the "to make someday" file.  This was the first one I busted out of my arsenal...simple, delicious, filling and let's just say, perfect.  Enjoy!



Fresh Pasta with Tomato & Mushroom Sauce

Adapted from la cucina italiana magazine


  • 1 leafy sprig rosemary
  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
  •  2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (28-ounce can) whole peeled tomatoes with 1/2 cup of their juices reserved
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 pound fresh field mushrooms (shitake, porcini, etc) roughly chopped
Pasta (yields 1 pound of dough)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 egg white, as needed


Remove leaves from rosemary sprig. In center of cutting board, mound rosemary leaves, parsley, garlic and thyme; finely chop together.
In a large skillet with lid, combine herb mixture, butter and oil; heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until butter is foaming. Add tomatoes with 1/2 cup of their juices and salt; bring to a simmer and cook, breaking up tomatoes, for 5 minutes, then stir in mushrooms. Reduce heat to low and gently simmer, covered, until mushrooms are tender and sauce is flavorful, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the pasta.  Combine eggs, flour and oil in a food processor and pulse until it comes together in a cohesive mass.  If it doesn't come together add an additional egg white and pulse again.  Remove from the food processor and knead several times by hand on a lightly floured surface until the dough comes together in a ball.
Divide the dough into thirds, take one and cover the rest with plastic wrap.  With your dough ball in hand, run it through a pasta machine until you are at the thinnest setting the dough will take without ripping (on my Kitchenaid pasta maker this was a 7).  Repeat with additional dough balls.  You could potentially do this without a pasta maker but it will be hard to get the dough thin enough. 
Cut the pasta sheets into wide 2" strips with a pizza cutter.  You can leave these to dry on the counter until you cook them.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. When sauce is very close to done, cook pasta in the boiling water.  Fresh pasta only needs about 2 minutes to cook, so don't overdo it.  Drain pasta and transfer to a large bowl. Add sauce and toss to combine well. Season and serve immediately.