Posts Tagged Cheese
I’m a big fan of savory tarts. The broccoli cheddar tart is a winter favorite around here, and quiches filled with spices and greens crop up quite often as well. If I have a few scraps of cheese and a couple of different vegetables in the fridge, there’s a good chance they’ll be thrown together in a tart without any real recipe or planning.
All these things are delicious. Cheese, flaky crust, eggy filling; who could say no? But they aren’t exactly healthy. And that’s a shame, because there’s no reason they shouldn’t be.
So I tried for healthier. No more all-butter crust: I went with whole wheat flour, olive oil, ricotta cheese, and loads of vegetables. It could be leaner, with low-fat ricotta and broth or low fat milk instead of cream, but I didn’t go there. Honestly I’ve never bought a low-fat cheese in my life and don’t intend to. This recipe is easy to modify. Don’t like asparagus? Try greens, mushrooms, carrot coins, squash, or whatever else strikes your fancy.
Ingredients (serves 6-8)
For the crust:
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 t white pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
3 T ice water
For the filling:
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
4 oz goat cheese
1/4 cup cream
1 lb asparagus
about 1/2 t salt
parmesan, to taste
For the crust:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Mix the flour, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Make a well in the center and add the olive oil.
Stir with a spoon until the mixture is uniform.
Add the water and knead until the dough forms a ball.
Press the dough into a buttered tart pan or pie tin. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes.
Boil the asparagus for 3-5 minutes while the crust is baking.
When the crust is done, spread a layer of ricotta across the bottom of it.
Crumble the goat cheese over the ricotta. Mix the egg and cream in a small bowl.
Pour the egg and cream over the cheese, and top with the asparagus. Sprinkle the tart with salt.
Bake at 350°F for 40-45 minutes.
This crust is different, very crumbly and complex. I didn’t expect to like it; ordinarily I don’t even keep whole wheat flour in the apartment, because the texture annoys me. The simplicity of it with the olive oil, and the soft, rich filling offset that enough to make me go back for seconds on this one.
The quiche is a dish that I always struggle with. Not because they’re difficult to make, but because I always want it to be something new and different and interesting. I’m happy to throw together a plain cheese quiche if I want to play with a good strong cheese, but since I have a bad habit of just snarfing down good strong cheeses with apple cider and maybe a few crackers, this is rarely an option.
Adding Indian spices and a great big heap of spinach, on the other hand, is always an option. As usual, I tailor the tart crust to the filling, so the dough is made with garam masala. Chile powder would be a nice addition as well.
For the crust:
1 1/4 cups flour
1 t salt
2 t garam masala
8 T (1 stick) cold butter
3 T ice water
For the filling:
1 large potato
2 cloves garlic
about 4 cups spinach leaves
3/4 cup milk
6 oz mozzarella cheese
1 T garam masala
2 t turmeric
1 t salt
1 T dried chiles (pequins, or chopped other peppers, optional)
For the crust:
Combine the flour, salt, and garam masala in the bowl of a food processor.
Pulse the dry ingredients briefly to combine. Add the butter in chunks.
Process the butter and flour mixture until it looks like damp sand. Add the water bit by bit and process just until the dough comes together in a ball.
Chill the dough for 30 minutes or so. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Roll out the dough and press it into a buttered tart pan.
Bake, lined with foil and pie weights, for 15 minutes. Set aside.
For the filling:
Chop the potato into bite-sized pieces and boil them for 8-10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Heat a heavy skillet (I love cast iron) over medium heat and cook the garlic until it is aromatic and toasty.
Add the spinach and spices and cook 5-7 minutes.
You’ll know it’s ready when it has cooked down thoroughly.
Add the potatoes and toss to coat with spices and add just a touch of crispiness to the edges. Set aside to cool.
In a separate bowl, combine eggs and milk.
Whisk to combine, and stir in the cheese and salt.
Add the potato and spinach, and peppers if using.
Stir to combine.
Pour the filling into the prepared crust.
Bake at 350°F for 40-45 minutes.
I know it’s not traditional to any cuisine. It’s fun and delicious. Mr. B slathers his with Sriracha and has cold leftovers for breakfast. I can’t stand a cold quiche (or pizza or anything else meant to be served hot) but apparently this is just a guy thing that I have to get used to.
In any case, this was a fantastic experiment. I’ll be making it again soon.
I love cheeseburgers.
For those of you blinking in surprise, or perhaps double checking that this is in fact a kosher blog, don’t worry. They’re vegetarian.
See, black beans make even better patties than meat. They’re flavorful and moist and not at all chewy. I can’t be the only person in the world who thinks that ground beef has a slightly unpleasant texture, can I? Surely someone else has noticed this. Black beans, though? Sublime.
This is one of those things that I just throw together in my poor, overworked food processor. I’m sure it would be possible to make without a food processor, but I have not done it any other way, so all directions are going to assume you have one.
Okay. It’s burger time.
Ingredients (makes about 6 sliders or probably 3-4 regular burgers.)
1 slider bun, either left on the counter overnight or slightly toasted
1 15-oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
zest of 1 lime
cilantro (fresh or dried) to taste
1/2-1 t mustard powder
1 t chile powder
1/2 t paprika (not shown)
1-2 t salt
Tear up the bun and put it in the bowl of your food processor.
Pulse until you’ve got crumbs no larger than peas.
Add lime zest, cilantro, chile powder, paprika, mustard powder, and salt.
Pulse just to combine.
Add black beans and egg.
Pulse a few more times to break up the beans and make a paste.
Form patties with your hands and fry with a little butter or oil (except really, you’re going to use butter, right? Butter is better.) in a skillet over medium-high heat. The sliders took about 3-4 minutes a side to crisp up nicely and cook through. I did not take pictures of this step because my hands were covered in bean paste and I prefer my camera to be not-covered in bean paste.
Add cheese and buns and all your favorite burger toppings.
Serve with succotash. You may have thought fries would be more appropriate, but no. Burgers are meant to go with succotash.
Pizza is not at all difficult to make. It requires a little planning, and a choice between a food processor and elbow grease. That’s about it. Make pizza at home, and not only will it be piping hot and crispy-crusted from the oven, but you can put any toppings you want on it, and any (or no) sauce.
I make pizza at home by necessity. While there are pizza places I can trust not to attempt tomato homicide (love ya, Urban Crust), for the most part pizza out just isn’t worth the risk or the expense. Enter pizza at home. You don’t have to have a pizza stone to make it–heck, my “pizza stone” is an old stone chess board I picked up for $3 (The chess pieces are my pie weights), and it replaces an 18″ square unfinished stone tile from Home Depot that snapped when we moved. Before the tile, I used a cookie sheet. Want a deep dish pizza? Use a cast iron skillet. Ignore people who tell you the only way to make good pizza at home is with expensive equipment. It just isn’t true, and you’ll miss out on good pizza if you trust them.
For the crust, I adapt Mark Bittman’s crust from How to Cook Everything. For the topping, I just use whatever I feel like at the time–in this case, asparagus, artichokes, and goat cheese. This recipe makes a small pizza to serve 2-3 people. Double it to serve more.
For the crust:
1 t instant yeast
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 t kosher salt
1/2 cup warm water
2 T olive oil
For the topping:
1/2 lb grated mozzarella
4 oz goat cheese
1/2 lb cooked asparagus (steamed, roasted, however you like)
10-12 cooked artichoke hearts (sautéed in lemon butter is best; steamed, boiled, or roasted will work)
a pinch of salt
1-1 1/2 cups sauce of your choice, if desired
Pour the flour, yeast, and salt into the bowl of a food processor.
Pulse briefly to combine.
With the blade running, drizzle in the water and olive oil. As soon as the dough comes together in a cohesive ball, turn off the food processor.
Knead the dough briefly and form it into as round a ball as you can. Place this dough ball into a lightly oiled bowl.
Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let the dough rise for at least an hour or up to two. If you need it to rest longer, put it in the fridge.
Turn the risen dough out onto a chess board/tile/cookie sheet that you’ve lightly dusted with a bit of flour or cornmeal. Preheat the oven to 500°F. No, that is not a typo. You need a really hot oven for pizza. it will cook fast and crisp up beautifully.
Punch it into a rough circle. (Full disclosure: my pizzas are usually unholy trapezoids, shapes that fit neatly into the dreams of great Cthulhu and are best not seen by sane men. This is the real reason I’ve never written about a pizza on here before. This one looks all right, though.)
Let the crust sit another ten minutes or so, so that you can smack it back into shape if that pesky gluten tries to contract and shrink your pizza. Add your sauce, if using, then cheese and toppings. I actually like to put the toppings underneath the cheese, because the cheese glues them down and keeps them from sliding around when the pizza is cut, but they look better on top. It’s up to you.
Bake at 500°F for 10-12 minutes. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt (and any other spices you like) and serve piping hot.
So good. Pizza you can eat on the couch, knowing it hasn’t been marinating in its own sweat for half an hour in the backseat of a delivery person’s car.
A note about cutting pizza: I hate pizza cutting wheels, because there is not enough room in anyone’s kitchen for a tool that’s only good for one thing. I use a sharp knife and press down with a gentle rocking motion, without sawing or sliding, until it cuts through. The pizza gets cut, all the cheese does not slide off, everyone is happy. Well, everyone except the guy who was secretly trying to steal all the cheese.
I’m not even going to pretend this is traditional or proper or in any other sense real Indian food. You see, aside from store-bought naan, I had not tried or eaten anything even resembling Indian food before last month.
I’d considered it. Mr. Blackbird loves Indian buffets to an almost frightening extent, and asked me to join him more than a few times. But two things stopped me. First, I had a misconception that all Indian food was so agonizingly spicy that you couldn’t feel your mouth after eating it. I like mild-to-moderate spice, but I have no interest in ever consuming, for instance, the bhut jolokia that we just transplanted to the outdoor pots with the grown-up plants. Second, buffets carry an ever-present risk of accidental tomato consumption, and while I do carry a shot of epinephrine with me whenever eating out, I do not want to have to use it.
What convinced me was, as usual, the greens. Cooked greens feature in at least a dozen of my favorite recipes, and here I was being confronted with one made almost entirely of greens and cheese. Yes, please! This recipe is adapted heavily from Goat, though I didn’t use goat milk for the paneer or in the final sauce. Goat milk is delightful, light, just a touch sour, and doesn’t make me feel sick after drinking a glass. It also costs more than $4 for a quart compared to cow milk at $1.19/gallon. This makes goat milk a sometimes food.
Ingredients (serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side)
1 1/2 to 2 cups (1 batch) paneer
1 1/2 to 2 lbs collards, mustard greens, or spinach
4 T butter, divided use
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup milk, cream, or yogurt
2 t garam masala (I used store bought and I can only identify some of the components [cinnamon, cumin, anise]. It’s delicious, though; I’ve been adding it to my matzoh brei all week)
1 t red pepper flakes, or cayenne or paprika if you prefer
1-2 cloves garlic
salt, to taste
Melt 2 T of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. I prefer cast iron. If you are not lazy, skim the solids off to clarify the butter. Milk solids are tasty, and I am lazy, so they stayed. Browned butter is best, but not required.
Cut the central ribs out of the greens (unless you’re using spinach) and tear them into palm-sized pieces before adding to the skillet.
Toss the greens until they are thoroughly wilted and release much of their liquid. This is very brief (<5 minutes) for spinach, 10-12 minutes for collards. Tongs are useful for flipping the greens without making a huge mess.
Add the broth and cook until the liquid reduced by about 1/2, or 5 more minutes.
Put the greens and the remaining liquid into the bowl of a food processor and pat the skillet dry.
Pulse the greens to your desired consistency. I did not want a puree, due to my distrust of liquid foods, so I left off after a few brief pulses.
Leave the greens aside for a moment while you heat the remaining 2 T of butter. Cut the paneer into cubes and add it to the skillet to fry.
Clarifying the butter this time would have been wise; this is insanely tasty but looks kind of gross.
Mix the garam masala, chili flakes, minced garlic, and milk. Add the greens back into the skillet, toss briefly, and pour the milk-and-spice mixture over them.
Salt and stir briefly before serving with naan.
Considering all the cheese and milk in there, this is surprisingly light. The spices are mild–too mild for Mr. B, who added a hefty dose of hot sauce to his plate–but incredibly flavorful. Now that our cilantro is finally thriving, I plan to add a few leaves at the end next time we make this. On its own, it’s delicious. As a side for butter chicken, it’s a meal Mr. B asks me to make about every three days. So, though it’s likely nothing like actual Indian food, it’s still a winner around here!
I promise, I’m not crazy. As much as I enjoy cooking, as much time as I spend in the kitchen, There are still things I buy pre-made every time, because I do not have the time to make my own tortillas or ice cream or cheese.
But this time, I made cheese. Not because I’m some kind of food nut who has to have everything made from scratch, and I can’t stand fussy, finicky recipes unless the payoff is huge.
I’d been wanting to make saag paneer for a while, but I couldn’t find paneer anywhere. Turns out making paneer at home is easier than finding it in a store. After trying six different grocery stores, I finally looked up how to make it. With just two ingredients, and a recipe that took less than 15 minutes of actual in-kitchen time, it was hard to resist. Plus, it made some awesome cheese.
I adapted this recipe from the delightful Goat cookbook. I have since made a half batch with goat milk as the cookbook recommends, and while the difference was more subtle than I’d expected, but on balance I think I prefer the slight tang of the goat milk version.
Ingredients (makes about 2 cups)
1/2 gallon milk (or goat milk, or a mix)
1/4 cup lemon or lime juice
Pour the milk into a large pot and heat over medium heat.
When the milk rises in the pan and begins to simmer, Turn off the heat and stir to ensure that the entire volume is evenly heated.
Pour in the lemon juice and stir to combine.
Walk away for 20-25 minutes. Really. During one batch I was impatient and kept checking in and stirring every couple of minutes. The curds that formed were broken up so that many of them passed right through the cheesecloth and were lost forever. It was tragic. After 20 minutes undisturbed, the curds should have separated nicely.
Line a colander with cheesecloth and pour the curds and liquid (whey) through. Walk away for another hour or so, to let the majority of the whey drain.
Once the cheese had drained, gather the cheesecloth and tie it off.
Set the bundle in the refrigerator on a plate or in a bowl with a weight on top of it (I used a 10-lb medicine ball atop a second plate) overnight. This will press out the remaining liquid and firm up the cheese. Pour off the liquid and wrap the cheese in parchment paper and plastic wrap until ready to serve or cook with it.
This went to a lovely batch of saag paneer two days later. This was worth the hassle, enough so that I’ve now made three batches. A combination of mild cheese and rich greens made for a perfect dish.
Have I mentioned that I don’t eat soup? I just have a problem with food that you drink. That’s not called food, it’s called drinks. I don’t have drinks for dinner, I have them with dinner.
And yes, everyone else thinks I’m crazy, too.
I tried to get out of this one. I called it “tortellini in brodo.” Mr. B. retaliated by eating with a spoon. I insisted it was just a different way of eating pasta. He pointed out the delicate bits of egg and kale that could only be accessed by also eating the liquid. I tried to use a fork. It was too messy. I tried blaming the painkillers, but I haven’t actually been taking them.
So I made this. . . soup. (There, I said it.) Because my teeth have been pulled out, and my mouth hurts, and solid food isn’t completely an option yet.
Because I bought a jar of applesauce when I didn’t feel well enough to make applesauce, and there was mold inside. So clearly, that wasn’t an option, either.
Because I’m tired of mashed potatoes for the first time in my life.
I, the soup-hating corvid, made soup. For dinner, not with dinner.
But I put pasta in it so I could still eat it with a fork.
The pasta kind of hurt the places my teeth aren’t anymore.
The stracciatella? Pretty darn good. Salty and savory and full of things that aren’t supposed to be in stracciatella, because a thin, watery soup isn’t worth looking at, much less drinking. And why shouldn’t a stracciatella have shreds of kale along with egg, and tortellini as well?
Ingredients (serves 3-4)
3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup water
1 large bunch kale
8 oz tortellini or other pasta
about 1/2 cup (1 oz) of Parmesan cheese, finely grated
salt and pepper, to taste
Combine broth and water in a deep pot and bring to a boil.
Remove the ribs from the kale, roll it up, and slice it into 1/4 inch chiffonade.
Grate the Parmesan.
Add the kale and Parmesan to the boiling broth.
Simmer 5-6 minutes, stirring well. You don’t want giant Parmesan clumps, if only because that means somewhere in your soup there are cheese-free zones, and that’s just terrible.
Add the tortellini and simmer an additional 2-3 minutes. Fresh pasta doesn’t take long to cook.
Whisk your egg(s) in a small bowl and pour them into the stracciatella in a slow stream, whisking the soup as you pour.
It will look very cloudy briefly, but clarify after just a few seconds.
Serve hot, with crusty bread if your teeth allow it and a few slivers of grated Parmesan over the top.
The best thing about this is that the pasta absorbs a huge amount of flavor from the broth. Even I broke down and ate this with a spoon, because all that rich, eggy liquid could not be allowed to go to waste.
The kale brought its usual bitter tones to to table, making the soup more aromatic and hearty that it would have been. I loved the little shards of cooked egg that kept popping up unexpectedly, and though I only used one egg for this volume, two would have been better.
Now I just need a few more semi-solid meals to get through the next few days before my doctor clears me for people food again!
Stuffed shells are a compromise of a dish. They’re cheesy and delicious like lasagna, but more filling-oriented and neater to eat, like an overenthusiastic tortellini. (Just pretend the simile makes sense, okay? Thanks.) As far as compromise goes, they’re often the best of both worlds. After all, you could never fit this much squash into one bite of lasagna, and tortellini is finicky to make at home.
These shells are a great weeknight dinner, especially when you’re dealing with a chilly February in Texas. At least the metroplex isn’t iced under and terrified this year–those of us who live in the South have no idea how to handle even small doses of below freezing weather, nor should we have to. It’s the American South. It has a contract with its residents that temperatures will never drop below 50° F, and we’ll all speak in accents the rest of the world can mock. There are rules.
At any rate, even though my pumpkin supply has been tragically cut off for the year, acorn squash is still abundant and we’re a long way still from the summer days when I poke sadly at zucchini and wonder why it still gets to be called squash when it lacks all the good squash qualities. Acorn squash is sweeter than pumpkin, and a bit stringier, but still brilliantly orange and velvety. Combined with tangy goat cheese and bitter, crunchy kale, it makes a perfect filling for the shells.
Ingredients (serves 4-6)
18 jumbo shells, cooked
1/2 of an acorn squash
2 T butter
1 bunch kale
4 oz goat cheese
2-3 T marscapone
1/2 lb mozzarella, grated (divided use)
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400°F and get out your squash. These things can be a little intimidating to cut into, as they are quite hard, but if you just give it a really good whack with a nice heavy knife, you’ll be all right. Just use a sturdy cutting board and pretend you’re chopping wood.
Chop it in half and scoop out the tasty, tasty seeds.
Peel it and chop into half-inch dice. Spread the squash in a baking pan and dot with the 2 T of butter and a sprinkling of salt.
Roast at 400° F for 20-30 minutes, until the flesh is translucent and the edges just begin to caramelize. You could alternately cook the squash in a cast iron pan on the stove over high heat for 10-15 minutes, for a lot more browning. I will almost certainly do that next time, as it is both quicker and more flavorful.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Set the squash aside and prepare the kale. Cut the central ribs out of the leaves and lay the leaves on top of each other in a stack.
Roll that stack up tightly and slice it into thin ribbons (this is called chiffonade, for those of you who are interested).
Toss the squash, kale, goat cheese, marscapone, and half of the mozzarella in a bowl and mix well.
Arrange the cooked shells in a buttered baking dish and stuff each one with as much filling as it will hold. Or a little more. I won’t judge.
Top the stuffed shells with the remaining 1/4 pound of mozzarella and a thorough sprinkling of Parmesan.
Wrap the dish snugly in tin foil and pop it in the oven for 30 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake another five minutes or so, just to get some nice browning on top.
Serve with steamed broccoli and ciabatta.
This is just as tasty the next day, although the crunchy Parmesan lace is somewhat diminished by microwaving. It’s gooey and salty and just a touch sweet all at once, which makes it the perfect cure for just about any craving you may be having right about now.
I don’t eat soup. I know it’s strange, especially in these chill winter months, but I just can’t do it. I have a serious psychological aversion to the idea of drinking food. When I eat yogurt, it has to be the extra-custardy kind that holds its shape when scooped. Soup is simply out of the question. So don’t listen to Mr. B over there calling this tasty dish by the abominable name of “cheesy pumpkin soup.” He’s dreadfully misinformed.
It’s called “individual roast pumpkins stuffed with Gruyère.” See? That doesn’t sound anything like soup.
Mr. B slurps his out of a soup spoon just to annoy me.
Honestly, the recipe couldn’t be simpler. You just gut a pumpkin, fill it with cheese and cream and wine, and roast it. Scoop the flesh and filling onto some toasted French bread rounds, and you’re set for dinner. I like to use the tiny individual-sized pumpkins for this, but you can use a 3- or 4-pounder to feed about four people. It’s more fun to have your own, though.
Ingredients (serves 2, but make as many as you need)
2 fist-sized pumpkins (about the size of a salt owl)
4 ounces Gruyère or other good melting cheese
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup white wine
2 cloves garlic
a pinch of nutmeg for each pumpkin
salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 350°F, then decapitate the pumpkins. You don’t want to make a horizontal cut, because that will damage the structural integrity of the pumpkin and it will collapse into a cheesy pumpkin pancake while roasting instead of holding its shape. I made octagonal vertical cuts with a paring knife.
Scoop out the seeds and gooey threads that hold the seeds together.
Place a peeled clove of garlic in the bottom of each pumpkin. Stuff the pumpkins with Gruyère. It’s worth noting at this point that overfilling them will lead to cheese escaping due to thermal expansion while they roast, making a big darn mess in the oven, but you probably aren’t any more likely to stop adding cheese because of that than I was (more cheese is always better, right?), so just remember to put the pumpkins in a roasting pan with raised sides to catch the spill.
Pour a couple of tablespoons of cream into each pumpkin.
Then two tablespoons per pumpkin of wine.
Grate on the nutmeg and toss in a pinch of salt. Stick the lids back on the pumpkins. Bake them at 350°F for 45 minutes to an hour.
Turns out there is such a thing as too much cheese, and it makes a big mess. A tasty mess, but still.
Leave the lids on until you’re ready to serve. There’s something incredibly satisfying about taking the lid off just as you’re ready to dig in and have the contents still steaming hot.
The taste is very similar to fondue, which makes sense because the filling is pretty much fondue. Scoop a mixture of pumpkin flesh and cheesy filling onto a slice of toasted French bread and prepare to swoon.
Full disclosure here: That steamy delicious one? I ate it. I had to get Mr. B’s pumpkin to take the rest of the pictures. I just could not wait another two minutes. These are that tasty.
Just be very clear when you have these, just because you eat them with toasty bread and a spoon, they aren’t soup. Corvids don’t eat soup.
Homemade pasta is a thing of beauty.
I’m not suggesting it should be an everyday affair. indeed, unless you have a pasta machine and loads of free time, it shouldn’t be. On the other hand, on the rare occasions when I crave a filled pasta, store-bought ravioli or tortellini simply will not do. I’m told one can buy fresh pasta sheets for these purposes, but I don’t go to the fancy grocery stores so homemade was really the only option. You need something fresh and eggy and delightful to hold in all this pumpkin, you see.
Then you can do one of two things. There’s the healthier option of adding simmering vegetable or beef broth, or you can do what I did.
Everything’s better with cheese. Drizzle a creamy Swiss cheese sauce over these lovely things and prepare to overeat. The trick is using the right cheese. You want something more than a little bitter, with enough bite to provide a contrast to that lovely sweet pumpkin flesh.
I’ll warn you, this is a multi-stage process, but it’s made easier by the fact that most of it can easily be done ahead. Roast the pumpkin and refrigerate it for a day or two, make the pasta dough (or buy some. I don’t mind.) and toss it in the refrigerator until you’re hungry. Sauce is optional; I had originally planned to serve this in brodo before I realized we had somehow used all the vegetable broth in the apartment.
Ingredients (serves 4)
For the roast pumpkin:
1/2 of a 3 to 3 1/2 pound roasting or pie pumpkin
1/4 cup of white wine
2 large sprigs of rosemary
about 1/2 of a nutmeg, grated
salt, to taste
Also, 1 pound of kale
For the ravioli:
2 cups flour
2-3 T olive oil
1 t salt
For the Swiss cheese sauce:
2 T butter
1/4 cup cream
about 3 ounces Swiss cheese
pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
The only real challenge in cooking with fresh pumpkin is chopping said pumpkin into manageable chunks. For almost everything else in my kitchen, I use the incredibly light and viciously sharp ceramic knives. For bread I use a serrated knife, and for pumpkin I use this bad boy.
I found him in standing water in an ill-maintained campus kitchen when I was in college. I’m not sure whether it’s actually a kitchen implement or a Hobbit-sized sword, but this knife probably has enough heft to take out a chunk of the counter if we wanted to. Which we don’t. So, chop your pumpkin in half.
Peel the pumpkin and scrape out the seeds (we’ll talk about roasting the seeds later).
Wrap up one half for later, and chop the other into 1/2 inch cubes.
Pour the wine over the pumpkin bits.
Grate on the nutmeg and add the rosemary.
Sprinkle on some salt.
Toss the pumpkin, wine, and seasoning. Arrange the pumpkin in a layer in a roasting pan and toss it in a 400°F oven.
After 45 minutes, you have roast pumpkin.
Congratulations! Now, while that’s in the oven and you’re snacking because you didn’t start dinner until you were already hungry (please let me believe I’m not the only person who does that, okay?), make some pasta.
Food processors make life almost too easy. It’s why I love them. Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse them briefly.
Add all three eggs.
Zoom, zoom. Process while drizzling in the oil for about 20-25 seconds.
With well-floured hands, form the dough into a ball on an also-floured countertop.
Divide the dough ball in two halves and roll out one of them as thin as you can. I don’t have a pasta machine, nor do I think it would be worth the space to get one. Just elbow grease and a nice heavy rolling pin, thanks.
Pile little hills of roast pumpkin at two-inch intervals over the dough. I topped mine with grated Swiss cheese, as well.
Roll out the other half of the dough, drape it over the first one, and use a biscuit cutter to form ravioli. Repeat rolling and forming ravioli until you run out of pumpkin or dough. I made 32 ravioli before running out of pumpkin.
Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil. (Why yes, I do put salt into this recipe four different times. Isn’t it wonderful?)
Boil the ravioli for 3-4 minutes.
Boil a pound or so of kale, too. Kale is delicious and crunchiful.
Divide your ravioli onto serving plates. Now they are finished, and quite tasty, but naked.
Let’s make a quick Swiss cheese sauce. Plop 2 tablespoons of butter into a saucepan over medium-high heat.
Letting the butter brown was an accident, but I don’t regret it. Pour on the cream.
Add the Swiss cheese and stir to melt it.
Add the salt and turn off the heat, stirring quickly to fully incorporate the salt.
Spoon over the ravioli and kale just before serving.
The best thing about this dish is that everything on this plate makes everything else on it that much better. The wine on the roast pumpkin gives it a sour edge that the pumpkin flavor bursts out of. The kale is just bitter enough to contrast the pumpkin, and lends its texture to an otherwise too-soft dish. Bitter, salty cheese keeps everything from being too pumpkin-sweet (think pumpkin pie. No thanks.) and the rosemary does what rosemary does best (it makes everything better, in case you were wondering. Everything.) This is definitely something to make again soon. Even without a pasta machine.