Posts Tagged ‘parmesan cheese’

Toasted Ravioli

Monday, May 11th, 2009

When I was about 7 years old, an Olive Garden opened near our house. Of course, by “near our house,” I’m pretty sure I mean almost an hour away. Which to a 7 year old, seemed even longer.

When we got to the restaurant, there was the longest wait for a table that I had encountered in my young life. I didn’t really go out to dinner all that often, so that isn’t surprising. And a brand new restaurant, one that doesn’t take reservations? Of course, everyone should’ve seen that coming. I remember waiting impatiently with my parents and grandparents for our table. It felt like standing in line at Great America. I was hungry, and thirsty, and tired. My sister, who couldn’t have been older than 2 or 3 was of course eveb more crabby than I was. We waited and waited and waited.

The one bright spot in this endless wait was when the host brought out appetizers for the full lobby. They were just samples, a show of good faith, a thank you for sticking it out through the long delay. But I remember them, in part because I was starving, and in part because they were delicious.

Toasted Ravioli.

My mind boggled at the thought. I’m pretty sure the only ravioli I’d eaten actually came in a Chef Boyardee can. Maybe a frozen tray. Nothing against the food I grew up with (there are plenty of great cooks in my family) but ravioli wasn’t something that we ate with any regularity.

Toasted ravioli, though. That was something I could get excited about. They were hot and crispy, with spicy marinara sauce for dipping–just like a mozzarella stick. I don’t think we would have ever tried them if the host hadn’t been passing them around. It sounded too weird, and we didn’t really order appetizers back then. I’m glad we got the chance to try them though, because everyone liked them. My mom will still order them for her entree at the OG, and when I worked there as a server in college, they were a favorite of mine.

These days, though, I can make them at home. It’s super easy.

Toasted Ravioli

  • 1 package refrigerated bite-sized cheese ravioli (if you want, you can use frozen, but be sure to thaw them completely first. You can also use any flavor you like, but I like the cheese ones for this).
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Extra virgin olive oil

1. Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium high heat. You want the oil to shimmer, but not smoke. If it starts to smoke at all, turn off the heat and let it cool down before trying again.

2. Place beaten eggs in a shallow dish. Combine bread crumbs and cheese in a second shallow dish.

3. Dip ravioli in eggs to coat, and then dredge in bread crumb mixture until covered completely. I usually do this in three separate batches. Let the ravioli sit for about 5 minutes, to make sure the coating really sticks to the pasta.

4. Place ravioli into preheated oil in a single layer. Fry for 1-2 minutes per side, turning once, until golden brown. Remove to a large plate lined with paper towels. Repeat until all ravioli has been fried. If you’re making these for a large group (they’re great for that!), cooked ravioli can be held on a cookie sheet in a 300 degree oven to keep them warm and crisp. Serve with warm marinara sauce for dipping.

Spinach Fettuccine with Proscuitto, Peas, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

This was the third dish we made at my pasta making class, and it was the one I liked the best. Of course, it being a pasta making class, we made our own fresh spinach pasta, but you could certainly use a store-bought variety here.

This was a really quick and tasty dish, with bright, fresh flavors. I was impressed with how delicious it was, especially for how quickly it came together. I’m sure you could add grilled chicken, but I didn’t feel it was necessary at all. The original recipe called for roasted red pepper strips in place of the sun-dried tomatoes, but I like the sun-dried tomatoes, so that’s what I used.

Spinach Fettuccine with Proscuitto, Peas, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

  • 1 lb spinach fettuccine, preferably fresh
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces diced prosciutto
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh peas
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil to cook your spinach pasta. Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente. Drain, and keep in a warm place.

2. While pasta is cooking, brown proscuitto in 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When the edges begin to get crispy, add the cream and simmer until reduced by half–about 10 minutes. The cream sauce will be considerably thicker.

3. Add tomatoes and peas and continue cooking until heated through, about 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

4. Toss with hot pasta and Parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.

Note: Ideally, you want to finish the pasta and the sauce about the same time. The timing will depend largely on whether you use fresh pasta, which will only take about 3-4 minutes to cook,  or dried pasta, which will take at least 9-11 minutes to cook. If your timing is off, don’t stress–just keep the pasta as warm as possible, and keep the whole dish over heat for a bit once you add the pasta to the sauce.

Also, I bought some kind of weird dried/fresh pea hybrid meant for soup instead of fresh peas. I won’t make that mistake again.

Sun-Dried Tomato, Basil, & Artichoke Lasagna

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

This vegetarian lasagana was one of the dishes I made in my pasta-making class. Though I’m not normally one for vegetarian anything, and I never would have expected to like artichokes, this dish was surprisingly good.

I used a basic pasta dough recipe to make my own lasagna noodles, but you could use dried pasta if you want, just be sure to cook the pasta first–there’s not enough liquid in this lasagna to cook dried noodles.

lassagna

Sun-Dried Tomato, Basil & Artichoke Lasgana

  • 1/2 pound lasagna noodles, cooked (or fresh & raw)
  • 16 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 & 1/2 cups pesto (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1 cup marinated artichokes, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 glass pan with cooking spray.

2. Spread a thin layer of pesto on the bottom of the baking dish. Top with sheets of pasta. Spread with pesto, followed by ricotta cheese, artichokes, and sun-dried tomatoes. Sprinkle with parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.  Top with another layer of pasta and repeat, finishing the dish with a final layer of cheese.

3. Baked, covered with foil for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes, until heated through. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Note: Like I said, I’m not much for vegetarian dishes, but this was very good. If you feel the need to add meat, I think grilled chicken would go very well in this lasagna.

Pepperoni Parmesan Pasta Salad

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

I’m going to attempt to share a recipe for pasta salad with you. I say attempt, because pasta salad is so often a “little of this and a little of that” kind of dish. I’ve had requests for this pasta salad recipe before, and not been able to explain it or share it properly. This time, I tried to pay pretty close attention to exactly how I made it.

One of my favorite things about this dish was these new mini pepperoni (Hormel Pepperoni Minis) we found at Costco. They’re perfect for pasta salad! And probably English muffin pizzas, and regular salads. I’ve also used them in fake lasagna, and bubble-up pizza casserole. I think they’d go really well in those pepperoni pinwheels, too.

Pepperoni Parmesan Pasta Salad
Makes 6-8 servings

  • 1 pound small pasta (shells, bowties, corkscrews, etc)
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons Italian salad dressing
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup pepperoni, diced (I used these mini pepperoni)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and cut into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • salt & pepper to taste

1. Cook pasta in boiling, salted water according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water (or refrigerate) until pasta is cold all the way through.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together balsamic, olive oil, and Italian dressing.

3. Place pasta in a large bowl; drizzle with dressing mixture. Stir to combine.

4. Add basil, cheese, tomatoes, and pepperoni. Mix completely.

5. Serve chilled, with extra parmesan for garnish.

Spaghetti Carbonara

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

Spaghetti Carbonara? Yum!

I feel like I need to invoke Joey from “Friends” to really capture the greatness of this dish:

Noodles? Good.

Cheese? Good.

Bacon? Goo-od.

Carbonara’s a really fun dish to make. It looks impressive, it sounds impressive, but honestly, it couldn’t be easier. And it tastes delicious. This recipe for carbonara is by far my favorite out of the few that I’ve tried.

Spaghetti Carbonara
Adapted from The Amateur Gourmet

  • a box of dry spaghetti
  • pancetta or thick bacon
  • two raw eggs
  • freshly grated parmesan
  • freshly ground pepper
  • four cloves of garlic, peeled
  • white wine
  • roughly chopped parsley

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

2. Cut the bacon or pancetta into small cubes. I use about 6 slices of bacon, but you can use less or more, depending on your tastes.

3. Add the cubes to a non-stick skillet with some olive oil and the garlic cloves. Turn on the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring often, until the garlic is golden brown  and then remove the garlic from the pan. Keep cooking the bacon/pancetta until it’s crispy and drippings are visable in the pan.  Once the bacon/pancetta is crisp, add one glass of white wine. It will bubble up and then begin to simmer. Continue heating this sauce over medium low heat until the liquid reduces and the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.

4. When the water begins to boil, salt the water then add the box of spaghetti noodles.

5. While the pasta boils and the sauce simmers, crack two eggs into a large bowl. Grate in at least one cup of Parmesan cheese (more if you like, I probably use closer to 1 1/2 cups). Grind black pepper over it all and then stir it together with a fork.

6. Once the pasta is cooked to al dente, drain and add it directly to the large bowl with the egg and cheese mixture.

7. Stir very quickly. It is important that you begin to stir immediately and continue stirring until the mix covers all of the noodles. The heat from the pasta is cooking the eggs for you, but if you don’t stir well, you could end up with something closer to scrambled eggs than pasta sauce. (As Alton Brown would say, “That’s not good eats.”)

8. When all of the noodles are coated with the egg/cheese mixture, add the bacon and sauce to the pasta and stir again. To finish, stir in the chopped parsley, and sprinkle a little more cheese on top.

Note: I like Spaghetti in this dish, but fettuccine or even orecchiette would work well. It just needs to be something that can be coated easily with the sauce mixture. Sometimes, we make this with grilled chicken–I just cook the chicken separately, then add to the bacon/wine mixture while the wine is reducing. If I add chicken, I usually use a little less bacon.

Ravioli Lasagna Fake Out

Friday, March 6th, 2009

I like lasagna. And who doesn’t? What I don’t like about lasagna is all of the work involved. I just don’t have the patience for all the layers, etc., especially after working all day. But rather than relegate the whole lasagna concept to the weekends, when I have the time and energy to bother, I started making this quick lasagna casserole dish. Affectionately, we call this “Fake Lasagna,” and it’s really quite good. All the flavor and none of the fuss!

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Ravioli Lasagna Fake-Out (Fake Lasagna)

  • 16 ounce package of cheese ravioli, frozen. (We use the Kirkland brand from Costco)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 regular sized jar of spaghetti sauce
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 pound ground beef (or 1/2 pound ground beef, 1/2 pound Italian sausage)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bring a large pot full of salted water to a boil. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and the frozen ravioli. Boil for 3-4 minutes, until the ravioli float to the top. Drain and reserve.

2. In a large skillet, season the ground beef with Italian seasoning, salt & pepper, and garlic. Brown and drain. Return to skillet. Stir in the jar of spaghetti sauce.

3. Spray a 2 or 2 1/2 quart casserole dish with cooking spray. Add a spoonful of the spaghetti sauce mixture and spread across the bottom of the dish in a thin layer. (This keeps the pasta from sticking to the dish when you scoop it out later).

4. Place a single layer of ravioli on top of the sauce. Cover the ravioli with a ladle of the sauce/meat mixture. Sprinkle with about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. Begin a new layer of ravioli, top with sauce and cheese. Continue in this way until the casserole dish is full. I usually end up with at least 4 layers, but this will depend on how thick your ravioli are. You should end with a final layer of mozzarella cheese.

5. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the mozzarella cheese. You like cheese, right?

Sun-Dried Tomato and Sausage Risotto

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

Here’s another of our favorite risotto recipes. This is the one David always makes when he takes over the dinner preparations. It starts as a basic risotto milanese, with arborio rice, chicken stock, garlic, white wine, and parmesan cheese. We add to this classic flavor combination with Italian sausage and sun-dried tomatoes, which play nicely against the creamy texture of the risotto and the tang of Parmesan cheese.

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Sun-Dried Tomato and Sausage Risotto

  • 3.5 cups Chicken Stock or Chicken Broth (stock is better)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 pound bulk Italian sausage (or about three links, casings removed)
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil/from a jar, diced
  • 2 teaspoons sun-dried tomato oil, from the jar
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine chicken stock and white wine and bring to a boil.
  2. Saute Italian sausage with garlic in a medium skillet, until cooked through, about 7-8 minutes. Drain and put aside, reserving about a teaspoon of the  drippings in the skillet.
  3. In the same skillet, add sun-dried tomato oil and arborio rice and cook over medium high heat until grains start to turn translucent and shiny at the edges. You want to make sure that all of the grains of rice get coated, so if there’s not enough fat in the pan, you can always add a teaspoon or so of extra virgin olive oil. Don’t add too much–coating the rice is good, but extra grease will make the final dish extra greasy.
  4. Begin to add chicken stock mixture, one or two ladles at a time, until the rice will no longer absorb the liquid. Stir often. When it is finished, the rice should have a creamy texture and be tender, with a little bit of bite to it (just slightly al dente).
  5. When rice is finished cooking, remove from heat, and stir in cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and cooked sausage. Serve immediately.

Note: As I’ve said before, we make risotto often around here. Risotto is more about the method than anything else, and once you get that down, you can do just about anything with the flavors and ingredients. You’ve seen Mexican Risotto here, but we also do a similar dish to this one with chicken, a tomato based sausage risotto, cheddar risotto arancini, sausage arancini, etc. Like I said, once you get the method down, you’re really only limited by your imagination.

Pepperoni and Parmesan Pinweels

Monday, January 19th, 2009

While my friends were in town, we had a rather elaborate dinner on Saturday night. As is usually our way, by the time I started making dinner, everyone was already starving–and these quick & easy little appetizers were the perfect stop-gap. They were simple, tasty, and kept everyone happy while I made dinner. Exactly what you want from an appetizer!

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Pepperoni and Parmesan Pinwheels
Adapted from The Bon Appetit Cookbook.

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (half of 17.3-ounce package), thawed
  • 2 tablespoons honey-Dijon mustard
  • 2 ounces packaged sliced pepperoni (about twenty-four 1 1/2-inch-diameter slices)
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • Nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray

1. Mix first 4 ingredients in medium bowl. Cut puff pastry crosswise in half to form 2 rectangles. Spread 1 tablespoon mustard over 1 puff pastry rectangle, leaving 1-inch plain border at 1 long edge. Place half of pepperoni in single layer atop mustard. Top pepperoni with half of cheese mixture. Brush plain border with egg.

2. Starting at side opposite plain border, roll up pastry, sealing at egg-coated edge. Transfer pastry roll, seam side down, to medium baking sheet. Repeat with remaining pastry rectangle, mustard, pepperoni, cheese mixture, and egg. Chill rolls until firm, about 30 minutes, or wrap and chill up to 1 day.

3. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line 2 baking sheets with foil. Lightly spray with vegetable oil spray. Cut each pastry roll into about thirty 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Transfer pinwheels to prepared sheets. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer to platter; serve.

Note: These were delicious, and as I’ve already said, very simple. I did not have any honey Dijon mustard on hand, so I mixed 2 tablespoons of the American Dijon mustard we had with a tablespoon of honey. The original recipe called for Asiago cheese, but Parmesan is what we had on hand, and it worked perfectly. Next time, I think I would double the layer of pepperoni–we put down a single layer of pepperoni on the puff pastry, but more would’ve been good. They might have turned out prettier if I had cut the slices a little thinner, but they turned out nice enough as it was.

I’ll definitely make these again sometime. It’s a great go-to appetizer for when you need to throw things together quickly. Also, a shout-out to Jeff, who did most of the assembly on these while I worked on actual dinner. Thanks!

Parmesan-Roasted Broccoli

Monday, January 5th, 2009

My name is Teri, and I don’t like broccoli. At all.

Occasionally, I will tolerate broccoli flavored things. Like cheesy rice. Or cheesy casserole. Or cheesy sauce on a baked potato. Or cheesy soup. You might have noticed a trend, and it’s got very little to do with broccoli.

Still, the Barefoot Contessa cookbook has proven itself again and again, and this glowing review at the Amateur Gourmet gave me the courage to try it (incidentally, I was pleased to see that someone else likes the Back to Basics cookbook as much as I do). But as far as the broccoli goes–guess what? I liked it!

Parmesan Roasted Broccoli
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics

  • 4 to 5 pounds of broccoli (I’m not that crazy! I used about a pound and a half for the three of us)
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced (I just minced mine)
  • Good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves (about 12 leaves)

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees

2. Spread the broccoli florets on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Toss the garlic on the broccoli and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes, until crisp tender, and the tips of some of the florets are browned.

3. Remove the broccoli from the oven and toss with 1 1/2 tablesppoons of olive oil, the lemon zest, the lemon juice, the pine nuts, Parmesan, and Basil. Serve while hot.

I couldn’t believe how tasty this was—it was more like fresh pesto than anything else. The broccoli wasn’t bitter at all, but instead had a dark, nutty flavor. The dressing, with the lemon, oil, and basil really brightened everything up. And of course, what isn’t better with cheese? You know the drill–no green cans. Freshly grated. I’m pretty sure I’ll make this again, especially since we bought a giant bag of broccoli at Costco, and I’m going to have to use that up somehow.

Fettuccine Alfredo

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

I’m not actually much of a baker. Despite what the recent rash of Christmas cookies might suggest, I’d rather make dinner than dessert any day.

Tonight, I made Fettuccine Alfredo for dinner. I’ve made Alfredo several times before, but this is one of those dishes that I have trouble replicating. I’ve never really worked from a recipe for it (Cream? Check! Cheese? Check! Butter? Check!) and while it usually turned out well, I couldn’t count on it being the same from one time to the next. That’s why I looked for a recipe to work from this time.

I tried out Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe for Fettuccine Alfredo, but mostly for the proportions. Her recipe called for a lot of lemon flavor, and I just couldn’t see using that much lemon for an Alfredo sauce. So I didn’t. I had a regular box of fettuccine on hand, so no fresh pasta for us. It was still very, very good.

I prefer my Alfredo with chicken, so to that end I sauteed chunks of boneless skinless chicken breast with a little garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning to serve with the pasta.

Giada’s Fettuccine Alfredo

  • 18 ounces fresh fettuccine (I used a 1 lb box of fettuccine noodles)
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (I used only 2 tablespoons)
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 cups freshly grated Parmesan (No green cans allowed!)
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper

Directions

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Drain.

Stir 2 cups of the cream and the lemon juice in a heavy large skillet to blend. Add the garlic and butter and cook over medium heat just until the butter melts, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Add the pasta and toss. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of cream, and Parmesan to the cream sauce in the skillet. Add the lemon zest, nutmeg, salt, and white pepper. Toss the pasta mixture over low heat until the sauce thickens slightly, about 1 minute.

Note: I followed the instructions pretty closely, but as I mentioned, I drastically reduced the amount of lemon juice. I added it to the cream sauce after the butter had already melted down, before adding the pasta, and it worked well. The lemon juice did not cause any curdling of the cream. I included the zest as written in the recipe.

The nutmeg may sound strange to you if you’ve never tried it in this kind of savory application, but it really balances the creamy flavor of the cheese sauce. I also like to use a pinch of nutmeg in my scalloped or au gratin potatoes. Freshly grated makes all the difference!

Now that I can make my own Alfredo, Pasta Fagioli, and Zuppa e Toscana, I’m running out of reasons to want to go to the Olive Garden. But those are recipes for another day.