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Archive for the ‘pasta’ Category

Fried Pumpkin Ravioli

Sometimes I think that nature gives us warm, sweet flavors that keep in storage from fall to winter to balance the chilly days until spring.  Winter squash and pumpkin have those comforting flavors, and I can’t resist enjoying them in not only pie but also in soup, bread, and even pasta.  Today let’s try pumpkin raviolis two ways:  regular and fried. For once, we’re going to short-cut the process by using wonton wrappers instead of homemade pasta dough, meaning you can have these little gems ready in a matter of minutes.  Serve them for appetizers, or make a whole bunch for a full meal.  The fried raviolis are great to pass at your Super Bowl gathering, or call them pumpkin pasties and serve them up for your next Harry Potter party.  No matter how you use them, they’ll be a tasty addition to your table.

Ingredients: makes about two dozen raviolis

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin or winter squash purée (home made or canned)
  • 1-2 cloves roasted garlic), smashed (For great roasted garlic, bake garlic cloves, covered, at about 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Store in olive oil.  If you’re feeling really lazy, substitute 1/2-1/2 teaspoon powdered garlic).
  • 1 ounce grated parmesan (about 1-inch cube before grating)
  • tablespoon or two of ricotta for extra creaminess
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste (I confess:  I used a seasoning mix called Beaverfork Blend that I get through my Locally Grown network.)
  • pinch of dried sage
  • package of wonton wrappers

Mix together all of the ingredients except the egg roll wrappers.  Place an egg roll wrapper on your prep surface.  Put about a tablespoon of pumpkin mix slightly off center in the wrapper.  Using your finger, wet two adjoining edges of the wrapper.  Fold over the dry side of the wrapper, encasing the pumpkin mixture. Use a fork to gently crimp the dry edges to the wet edges.  Set the wrapper aside and repeat steps with more wrappers until you have as many ravioli as you want.

For traditional boiled ravioli, slide raviolis one at a time into rapidly boiling water. You can cook a few at a time, as long as you’re careful not to crowd the pot.  They’ll cook really quickly (in about a minute and a half).  Use a perforated spatula to lift raviolis from water one at a time, drain well, and serve tossed with butter, garlic, and parmesan, or make a quick creamy garlic cheese sauce from minced garlic lightly cooked in butter then cooked with cream and finished with a little cheese.

For fried ravioli, follow the same procedure as above, but instead of cooking in boiling water, heat several inches of a neutral oil that can take high heat to about 350 degrees to 375 degrees in a deep fryer or heavy Dutch oven.  (If you don’t have a thermometer, you can determine when the oil is ready by pressing the tip of a wooden spoon handle or chop stick directly in the bottom of the pan.  When little bubbles emanate from the tip as it’s pressed in, you’re ready to fry.) Slide each ravioli in the hot oil and let it fry on each side until golden brown.  The time will be quick–no more than two minutes.  Drain each ravioli and set aside to keep warm until you’re ready to serve.  Garnish with fresh chopped herbs like basil or sage or just a dusting of good parmesan.

Would you like magically quick, sweet pumpkin pasties instead?

Ingredients: makes about two dozen pumpkin pasties

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin or winter squash purée (home made or canned)
  • tablespoon or two of ricotta for extra creaminess
  • pinch of ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • package of wonton wrappers

Follow directions for raviolis, using the fried version.  Dust finished pasties with powdered sugar.

Copyright, text and illustrations, 2011 by Ozarkhomesteader.


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Did your neighbor just surreptitiously drop a bag of zucchini on your doorstep and run?  Did you just uncover a zucchini club in your own garden that somehow escaped your notice for the past few days while it was growing into a gargantuan green nightmare?  Did your otherwise lovable CSA bury you in summer squash?  I have solutions, and they do not involve zucchini bread (which is good, but you can only eat so much).  Instead of lasagna noodles, how about using thinly sliced giant zucchini?  Instead of eggplant parmesan, how about using that same overgrown zucchini?  Are you trying to go low-carb?  Use larger (but not giant) zucchini to make ribbon strips of fettuccine!

To make zucchini lasagna, slice the zucchini fairly thinly across the club and fry in a shallow pan in just a little oil (as in a few squirts of spray oil), turning once as the zucchini browns.  Then layer marinara sauce (with or without meat) with the zucchini slices–evenly spaced across your baking pan and overlapped if necessary to get full coverage–and mozzarella and a thin grating of real parmesan cheese.  I’ll bet even the dedicated squash haters in your family will love it.  As one friend said to me years ago of a squash dish with cheese, “Well, of course I liked this squash.  You covered it in cheese!”

For zucchini parmesan, use thicker slices, and dredge the slices in egg and bread crumbs before frying if you want.  Layer as indicated for zucchini lasagna.  Add seasoned bread crumbs to the top if you did not bread the slices before frying.  It’s so easy!  Serve with a big salad and crusty bread.

For zucchini fettuccine, cut ribbons of zucchini using a vegetable peeler.  You can blanche the ribbons in salted boiling water for a minute or two before using or just toss with hot marinara or alfredo sauce.

Do not fear the giant zucchini!  It’s an opportunity.

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader. All rights reserved.

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Regular readers know I’m all about using what we grow here, in season.  Fortunately, some foods stay seasonal months after you’d think possible, such as the butternut squash that I picked in early November and kept in a cool room for winter, preserving it for our use last night.  For dinner we ate roasted  butternut squash, beets, onions, leeks, and shittake mushrooms served with Italian sausage and a sprinkling of goat cheese over a bed of whole-wheat fusilli pasta, cooked al dente.  The roasted butternut squash and goat cheese almost melted in the pasta to create a creamy, chunky, buttery sauce.  The beets provided glorious color and a caramelized sweetness.  Fresh herbs and Italian sausage rounded out the dish.   As always, we went organic with everything we could–in this case, everything.

Here’s what we used; you could change quantities to fit what you have on hand.

  • 2-3 large freshly dug beets, rough parts peeled off and quartered
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 1-2 leek bottoms, cleaned (sliced lengthwise) and sliced across the grain
  • optional:  1  small, sweet onion, quartered and sliced (if you don’t have leeks)
  • 1 teaspoon or so finely chopped or dried Italian herbs (rosemary, oregano but probably not basil for this dish)
  • olive oil
  • butter
  • optional:  splash of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup or more of shittake mushroom tops, halved and then sliced  (other mushrooms will work too, but you may want to alter the roasting time)
  • 1/3 pound Italian sausage
  • 1 sweet or hot Italian pepper (ours came from our garden by way of the freezer), sliced
  • optional:  red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 – 1 dry cup whole-wheat fusilli pasta (or other hearty curly pasta that will retain its character in the face of other flavors)

Begin by preheating the oven to 375 degrees F.  (You could go to 400 degrees F, but only if you are using more, smaller beets, and then you’ll need to reduce total roast time to 20 minutes.)  Lightly coat the bottom of a heavy pan with olive oil and butter.  (I used cast iron–big surprise, right?)  Spread on your beets, squash, leeks and onions, toss them with the herbs, a little more olive oil, salt and pepper, and, if desired, the balsamic vinegar.  (You can also save this ingredient for later or leave it out altogether.)  Roast these vegetables for 20 minutes and then add the shittake mushrooms and roast for 10 more minutes.  Meanwhile, brown the Italian sausage and crumble or slice it and then keep it warm with the red pepper slices.  Pump up the heat with red pepper flakes if you want more spice.  As the sausage and peppers cook, prepare the pasta in boiling water.  Everything should be ready at about the same time–approximately 35 minutes after you started prepping the vegetables.  Put the drained fusilli in bowls and then add the sausage with peppers and the roasted vegetables, tossed with balsamic vinegar if you didn’t use it earlier.  Sprinkle the goat cheese on top.  As you eat, the goat cheese and butternut squash will start to meld with the pasta.

Vegetarian option:  substitute seasonal beans or seasoned garbanzo beans for the sausage!

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.  Short excerpts with full URL and attribution to Ozarkhomesteader are welcome. Please contact me for permission to use photographs.

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Tonight we had huge noodle bowls for dinner, relying on fresh produce and poultry from our back yard or Conway Locally Grown.  These noodle bowls are packed with veggies, spice, and cooling coconut milk (which, alas, is not local at all).  Unfortunately, after I planned the dish, I discovered that my neglected fresh ginger was no longer fresh, so I found other ways to get ginger flavor.  If you have fresh ginger, by all means grate it and use it.  Use a wok for this one-pot meal.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in half lengthwise and then thinly across the grain
  • 1/4 cup Sriracha or homemade pepper sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sherry
  • 2 tablespoons extra-ginger ginger beer
  • natural soy sauce
  • walnut oil (or peanut oil)
  • toasted sesame oil
  • 2 small carrots, cut into pennies
  • pickled ginger juice
  • broccoli (garnish)
  • pea pods (a couple of cups)
  • big pile of shittake mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 baby bok choy heads, trimmed and cut diagonally
  • optional:  splash of hoisin sauce
  • 2 big pinches dried ginger
  • 2 red peter or other hot pepper, seeded if you want, and then sliced thinly
  • leek bottom, cut in half lengthwise, cleaned, and thinly sliced
  • broccoli florets
  • handful per person of prepared Thai rice noodles (like very white fettucini)
  • 1/2 can to 1 whole can coconut milk (light okay)

Method

Begin by marinating the sliced chicken in the Sriracha, sherry, ginger beer, and a splash or two of soy sauce.  While the chicken gets nice and spicy, prep your vegetables.

Wait–where are the snow peas?  Oh, here they are!

In a good wok over high heat, pour in a little of the nut oil, add your carrots, and pour on a tablespoon or two of pickled ginger juice.  Stir-fry the carrots until they get tender and maybe have a little caramelization on a few. Most of the liquid will have cooked off too.  Distribute the carrots in the bowls you’ll be using for eating.  Next, add a little toasted sesame oil, the snow peas, and a splash of soy sauce to the wok.  You can add a splash of water too if you want, but make sure it all cooks down.  Stir-fry the snow peas until they are tender.  Portion them out in your eating bowls to one side.

Now it’s time to stir-fry the shittake mushrooms.  Add a tiny bit of oil to the wok and toss in the mushrooms.  The mushrooms will give up a little liquid; that’s good, as it will help them cook.  Help them a little more by pouring in another splash of pickled ginger juice.  Is most of the liquid cooked off?  Out of the wok they go and into the bowls!   Be sure to put them in the half where you didn’t put the snow peas.

Next toss in the sliced bok choy with a little more nut oil and some of that ginger juice.  If you have it on hand, add a little hoisin sauce.  As the liquid cooks down, find a spot in your bowls for the bok choy.

Next up are leeks and chile peppers.  We just had a few florets of broccoli, so I added them in here.  Same story–different verse. Use a little oil.  Add a little more ginger juice if you think they need it.  Add in the prepared rice noodles and stir-fry to combine.  Plop in the bowls.

Last is the chicken.  Taking care to get chicken but little marinating liquid, add the chicken to the wok and stir-fry until the liquid is cooked down.

Now pour in 1/2 can to a whole can of coconut milk and heat until it gets bubbly.Distribute the chicken in the eating bowls and then pour on the coconut milk, which is now conveniently infused with all of the goodness that you stir-fried through the whole prep.  Yes, we just used coconut milk to deglaze the wok.

Eat.  Enjoy.  Since we separated the elements as we stir-fried them and again going in the bowls, you can get a different mouthful of flavor each time you dive into the bowl and pull out a morsel.  Use chopsticks for the most fun, with a soup spoon to get every tasty drop in the end.

Variations

This dish would be delicious with cilantro or Thai basil on top, but, alas, we had neither ready to pick right now.  We also sometimes use Asian eggplant in this big bowl of yummy, but we don’t have that yet either.  Feel free to substitute shrimp for the chicken.

What’s the largest number of local produce and protein that you’ve managed to get in a single dish?  Do you cook a similar pan-Asian dish?  Do tell!

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.  Short excerpts with full URL and attribution to Ozarkhomesteader are welcome.  Please contact me for permission to use photographs.

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I hesitate to post this new recipe for fear of backlash (it’s much too easy!–so easy a grade-school kid can make it), but when the heat moves in, I like to get out of the kitchen fast, and this recipe will let you do that.  It’s not a traditional cheese sauce with a white-sauce base, but it will be creamy, good, and versatile.  You’ll need a one-cup microwave-safe measuring cup like Pyrex.

  • one big butter knife-ful of cream cheese, a bit less than 1/4 cup
  • about 1/4 cup milk (can add more later if needed)
  • 2 tablespoons (or more if needed) of grated harder cheese like aged cheddar, swiss cheese, manchego, or parmesan–or a combo of cheeses like these.  Do not use Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, or similar cheeses.  They do not melt well.

Put the cream cheese in the measuring cup and pour on the milk.  Microwave for 1 minute.  Stir and stir with the butter knife to incorporate cream cheese.  Microwave 1 minute more on low (30% power) and then let the mixture sit a minute or two if it’s not mixing well.  Now stir in the grated cheese.  Keep stirring. Microwave it again in 1-minute increments at 30% power  and stir until all of the cheese is integrated and the mixture is really creamy.  Use for a mac’n’cheese base, quick alfredo sauce, with jalapenos and salsa for queso–you name it!  Dress it up with hot sauce, curry, or nutmeg and kirsch.

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Chive Blossoms

We’re bursting out with spring all over here, and the Ozark region’s first strawberries are coming into season.  When I was growing up, we had strawberries most often served over pound cake, which we called “strawberry shortcake.”  (I know people in other regions of the country use sweetened biscuits for a dessert by the same name.) A lot of people hear strawberries and think dessert, but unsweetened strawberries go as well with savory dishes like salads as do tomatoes.  Tonight we had a big salad of baby greens, herbs (chervilchive blossoms), and root vegetables (sliced carrots and radishes) from our garden,and sliced strawberries.  We topped everything off with a simple strawberry vinaigrette.

Here’s the salad on its own.  Can you spot the lime green lettuce called Black Seeded Simpson? the endive?  how about the little purple chive blossoms?  and the carrots and radishes?  and, of course, the strawberry slices?

Fresh Strawberry Vinaigrette: about 4 generous servings

  • 1/4 cup chopped strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil (try 2 tablespoons if 1 doesn’t seem like enough)
  • 1-2 tablespoons good red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon prepared hearty brown mustard

Blend everything until the strawberries are processed and the mixture is bright pink.  Oh, yes, this dressing is bright pink!  It might work well for a bridesmaids luncheon. My husband made fun of the color until he tasted it.  Then he ate a spoonful by itself.  And then he had another spoonful.  I think he liked it.

I served this salad with more seasonal favorites:  asparagus and smoked salmon with whole-grain penne pasta, finished with fresh local cream and a little non-local lemon zest; braised local snow peas; and for dessert more organic, local strawberries, garnished with a tiny scoop of ice cream.

What seasonal favorites do you look forward to each spring?  Do you have any family traditions for strawberries?

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.  Short excerpts with full URL and attribution to Ozarkhomesteader are welcome.  Please contact me for permission to use photographs.

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