Tag Archives: italian

Pasta al Limone

I “test” recipes for Cook’s Illustrated.  Not as glamorous as you may think.  Really just add it to the long list of other things I do, that I do not get paid for.  I randomly get recipes mailed to me to complete within a few weeks, along with a survey, just like homework.  This makes me happy, sometimes I have to cram, and stay up late, just like the good ol’ days, which strangely enough also makes me happy!  I recently received a pasta dish.  I saved it to make the night before my marathon, to carbo load.  It was so easy, and tasty, and helped load up my quads with additional glycogen.

What this picture illustrates besides the ingredients, is some of my favorite tools for the kitchen.  The microplane to zest lemons and shave the parmesan, the small measuring cup with the slanted measuring graduations, so you don’t have to pick it up to see how much is in there, the olive oil dispenser, and the teeny tiny cutting board that was handed down to me from my mom, the only thing missing is my vegetable peeler, more on that later.

Pasta al Limone:

Recipe inspired by Cook’s Illustrated.

  • 454g or 1lb  pasta
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large shallot minced (up to 3 Tbsp)
  • 1/4 whipping cream
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 c parmesan cheese shaved using a microplane
  • fresh basil chopped

Prepare pasta according to package instructions, al dente, don’t forget the salt in the boiling water.  Reserve 2 cups of cooking water.  My tip here, I am sure I read this in Cook’s Illustrated is to place a measuring cup into the colander while the pasta is cooking, otherwise, if you are like me, you only remember the water, once it is down the drain, irretrievably lost.

Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in dutch oven, add shallot and 1/2 tsp salt, cook or sweat down for approximately 2 min.  Whisk in 1  cup of reserved pasta water, cream and simmer for 2 min.  Remove from heat, mix in pasta, stir until coated, add 2Tbsp olive oil, lemon juice and zest, cheese and freshly ground pepper.

Let stand for a few minutes, toss again, and serve with chopped basil and parmesan.  The longer it stands the more the sauce thickens, like when you go up for seconds, it is really nice and thick.

The Verdict:

I really liked this dish.  It reminded me of a risotto that I make with lemon zest,  that I need to make again soon.  One day I will post that recipe, it is a keeper, I have been making it for years.  The sauce was a bit too runny, so I suggest a cup of pasta water to start with and add more if required.  It did thicken up for seconds and was great the next day as well.

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Inside or Out and all mixed up Ravioli or Pasta with beef and cheese

While looking for recipes I came across basically the same recipe three times.  Well I am not one to look past fate.  Pasta with Beef and Cheese was meant to be.

The first one was titled Inside out Ravioli.  Found on a beautifully photographed blog called Taste and Tell.    It made me think, what is in ravioli that can be on the outside?  Cheese and spinach?  I wasn’t left long to ponder, cause I came across this one next and started to plan.

I found Micheal Ruhlman’s Mac and Cheese on his itouch app, posted on the same day as I came across the inside out ravioli.

Inspired by both recipes and I made something in between, and  found my own.  I wish I had read the part in the Ruhlman recipe to cook the pasta till it was only half done, cause I think that would have taken it up a notch.

Inside Out and Mixed up Ravioli

  • 1/2 cup onion
  • 1 clove chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Italian Spice (a mix of oregano, basil etc)
  • 1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • (Ruhlman suggests fish sauce that I really wanted to use but forgot)
  • 1L Tomato Sauce (with water spooned off)
  • 1lb lean ground beef
  • 2 cups raw spinach, wilted and chopped fine (nano fine, so the kids can’t identify it)
  • 2 eggs whites (that’s all I had, but I think regular eggs would work better)
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1lb or 454g macaroni
  • 1 grated mozzarella ball (approximately 2 cups)

Sweat the onions and garlic in the olive oil, add the beef and cook stirring till it is no longer pink, spoon off fat, and add the tomato sauce, simmer to thicken.

Meanwhile boil the pasta according to instructions.  This is where I wish I had remembered the part in the Ruhlman recipe to only cook the pasta till half done, and cook the rest in the sauce.  Since I had not read this part, till the pasta was done, I decided to skim more water off the top of my sauce, and allow it to simmer to thicken.

Never to pass on an opportunity to use my Le Crueset, I mixed the whole thing together (pasta, meat sauce, 1/2 the cheese, and spinach, eggs, breadcrumbs), topped it with the rest of the cheese and drove over to my moms.  Popped it in the oven for about 30min at 350F, and broiled for a few minutes to get the cheese nice and golden.  Then we enjoyed it during out Mother’s Day Dinner.

The verdict:   it was good, but I think I would change up the spices next time.  The sauce was too close to my lasagna recipe, and I think I would like a slightly different flavour next time.  I think smoked paprika, and fish sauce sound very interesting.   The kids loved it, and we had the leftovers for lunch the next day.  I will definitely be making variations of this to come for a long time!


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