Monday, November 15, 2010

Beetroot Ravioli and Roasted Brussels Sprouts

So I'm trying to be a little healthier, which means I thought it might be a nice idea to incorporate a few more vegetables in my diet. In general, though, I don't really like vegetables so much. Or maybe I just don't like "healthy" (read: boring) vegetable recipes.

I do, however, really like beets and brussels sprouts, which is why, though there is no seitan anywhere in this meal, I'm posting this entry.

I had these ravioli on the menu of my old restaurant as a small plate, along with a pea puree and pea green salad, which means that serving ten of them for dinner made me feel very decadent. (We all have our vices.) The sweetness and the soft texture of the ravioli went extremely well with the crispy saltiness of the brussels sprouts, so if I ever put the ravioli back on a menu, it will be in this combination, or something very similar.

At any rate, if you are wary of beets and brussels sprouts or have only experienced them in horrible cafeteria-style dishes, I highly suggest you give these two recipes a go. (If you're reading this, Mama, this means you.) They're very simple, but most of all, absolutely amazing. And mostly vegetable. Probably not so healthful, but not too bad, either ...

Beetroot Ravioli

one bunch beets
2/3 cup ricotta cheese
3 T panko breadcrumbs
zest of one lemon
sea salt and cracked pepper
wonton wrappers

4 T butter
2 t poppy seeds

Wrap beets in tinfoil and bake in a 400 F oven for an hour. Allow to cool, then peel. Grate the beets by hand or in a food processor, then add the ricotta, breadcrumbs, lemon zest, and salt and pepper.

Laying out a few wonton wrappers at a time, place a heaping teaspoon of the beetroot filling on each. Fold into a triangle, first wetting edges with water so they'll stick better. Place them on a sheet pan or plate lined with wax paper - careful not to overlap or they'll stick to each other if you're refrigerating them before cooking.

Bring a pot of water to the boil and add ravioli, no more than a dozen at a time; cook for about two minutes. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saute pan and stir in poppyseeds. When the ravioli are done, carefully lift them out of the water with a slotted spoon (note: these are delicate and do NOT do well swished around or tossed into a colander) and gently toss with the butter. Plate them and add a little freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Okay, this is too easy to be so delicious, but there you are. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Trim brussels sprouts and halve (or quarter, if they're on the large side). Toss with olive oil, kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Turn out onto a sheet pan, spread them out a little and roast, shaking the pan once or twice, for about 35 minutes. Add a little bit more salt when they're done. They're amazing: try them.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Melanzane Farcite Alla Mozzarella E Salsicce, Orecchiette Alla Pugliese

Between my camera dying and the rather dull but time consuming chores of daily life, I haven't had an opportunity to post. But, little blog, I haven't abandoned you. There's mostly good news: I got a new camera, and (excitement, excitement!) I finally, after much frustration, have an appointment for the health inspection on my new restaurant. Of course, the less good news is that this camera seems to take mostly bad, blurry, oddly-colored photos (I might have some role in this, but due to circumstance outside my control, I also have no manual, which I probably wouldn't read anyway) and that, while the inspection has, as of eight minutes ago, been scheduled, it won't take place for several weeks, which means several more weeks of twiddling my fingers and being asked, again and again, by well-meaning but accidentally irritating people as to when the restaurant will open. No, I should be all positive: I have a chance to learn new photography skills and an opportunity to finally get the house organized before the culinary craziness begins.


If you could only eat one sort of cuisine for the rest of your life, what would it be? For me, Italian, always Italian. Oh, I'd miss all the rest ... I adore Ethiopian, particularly fasolia wett and gomen with beautiful, spongy injera and a glass of honey wine ... French, especially delicate crepes filled with mushrooms ... German, Japanese, Greek, and so on. But always Italian. I was obviously born in the wrong country, not to mention that my parents didn't even have the decency to be of Italian descent. But, no matter; I'm making up for it in my meals.

Lately, I've been obsessed with meatballs, but sadly, I don't really have any good pictures, so I'll have to leave that for another time. The key is lemon zest, though. Now (as if I needed an excuse), I will have to make them again so I can try for better pictures to go with the recipe.

Last night, though, we had roasted eggplants stuffed with mozzarella and veggie Italian sausage along with orecchiette with broccoli rabe, tomatoes and black olives. Now, I'd love to say that I invented the best-ever vegetarian Italian sausages, but I can't. That honor, at least in my opinion, goes to the Field Roast Grain Meat Company, whose Italian sausages are made with eggplant, red wine and spices - deliciousness! But, for those whose local stores don't carry Field Roast products, I recommend trying Julie Hasson's recipe, which is also quite delectable.

For the eggplant -

1 medium eggplant
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz. fresh mozzarella, diced
2 Italian sausages, ground in a food processor or a small dice
1/2 cup prepared tomato sauce
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Halve eggplants lengthwise and carefully scoop out flesh to leave two intact shells. Dice the flesh and set aside. Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil over med-high heat and add garlic. When fragrant, add eggplant flesh. Saute till soft and golden, about eight minutes. Remove and wipe pan. Add another T or two of olive oil and, when heated, add sausage. Saute till browned. In a large bowl, mix eggplant, sausage, mozzarella and tomato sauce. Fill eggplant shells and, in a lightly oiled pan, bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Easy, fast, yum!

For the pasta -

Orecchiette pasta
one-half bunch broccoli rabe
olive oil
2/3 cup black olives, roughly chopped
one tomato, chopped
red pepper flakes

Prepare the orecchiette according to the directions. Meanwhile, remove a couple inches of the rabe's stems, then cut the rest into pieces. Blanch in boiling water for two minutes, then drain and rinse in cold water to halt the cooking. When the pasta is done (or nearly done), heat oil in a saute pan and add garlic. Saute one minute, then add broccoli rabe and red pepper flakes to taste. Saute for a couple more minutes, then add the olives and tomato. Saute for another couple minutes, then add the pasta. Toss, drizzle with a touch more olive oil and serve with a little parmigiano on top.