Making Tortellinis in Minestrone
Tortellinis are unheard of here (I’ve looked through the supermarkets), and to see frozen ones available is akin to a mirage in the middle of a desert. So today I made tortellinis (and Ricotta!) from scratch…while listening to Westlife. I’m pretty sure that’s illegal in some countries, but that’s okay because Eka has made a request for them and I never say “No” to a foodwish.
Also, I really want to thank my readers for putting up with me being MIA. I’ve lost a couple of followers along the way but I guess that’s life. On a brighter note, my thesis proposal is done and dusted and I still have a few more days to go before exam week rolls in. All is well.
Ricotta & Parmesan Tortellini:
**BEWARE: Making pasta is a long and winding process. Ye have been warned.
Pasta dough (from Thebarefootkitchenwitch):
[ 3 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour + 5 eggs ]
Mound the flour on your work surface and make a well in the center. Put your eggs in the well.
Whisk the eggs together with a fork. As you do this, begin to incorporate flour into the eggs, working around the edges of the well, keeping the walls intact so you don’t have a flood of egg on your counter.
Dust your hands with flour and start kneading. It will take a while for the whole rough mass to come together into something actually workable.
When the dough has been kneaded the right amount, you will know. The surface will be smooth and soft, and as you are kneading, you’ll notice that when you do that pulling part, stretching the surface of the dough, the surface won’t crack any more.At this point, wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
During this time, it is wise to make your filling while waiting:
Ricotta & Parmesan Filling:
[Ricotta cheese + Parmesan, grated + a sprinkle of black pepper]
I know this is very arbitrary, but I really didn’t measure the amount for the filling. Go with your guts and mix in the ratio that feels right to you (eyeball it if you have to!). Mix the ingredients together and set aside.
Unwrap the ball of dough, and cut it into quarters. Keep one of them out and wrap up the other three. This is a very dry dough - it won’t stick to your work surface, for instance, so you do not need to dust that with flour. It’s great to work with, but if you don’t keep it wrapped up, it will dry out quickly.
Get your rolling pin out and flatten the piece of dough a bit. Now start rolling. This isn’t a quick and easy process, like rolling out cookie dough. Blame the gluten strands. And just keep rolling. You want to roll from the center out - away from you and toward you. Flip the dough over, and do it again. Middle, away. Middle, toward. If your work surface is large enough, you can roll this out into a circle, or something approximating a circle.
You can always use a pasta machine to make it easier on yourself. You need to start the dough off as a long, slender piece and put the pasta machine on the widest setting, pass the dough through a couple of times, and then move the setting to the next one, rolling the dough through a couple times and narrowing the space between the rollers, over and over, until you get a long, very thin, sheet of dough.
Unfortunately I didn’t have the luxury, so I ended up rolling out the sheets of dough to the appropriate thickness. I can feel the hum of my biceps and trapezius muscle during this pastaerobics.
Anyways, cut circles on the dough using whatever circle-thingamajig you have.
Spoon in a half to one teaspoon of filling for each circle (this of course, also depends on the size of your circle. Again, eyeball the amount that looks right).
Now we get to the fun part; the actual folding and nipping to make the tortellini shape:
Dab some water on the edge the circle.
Fold circle in half and seal tightly.
Using your thumb or index finger, push the filling up and then fold the edges inwards and seal tightly. You should end up with a shape that’s similar to the one below.
Keep doing it until you’re surrounded by these little cuties. Set aside.
Now Eka asked me to recommend a dish that goes well with tortellinis. Every time I think about tortellinis I think soup. Or pesto. And I don’t like pesto so I’m going with soup, Minestrone to be exact. Now there isn’t a set recipe for Minestrone because it always uses vegetables that are in season. So play around with it and see what combinations you can come up with. The one below is my version of it:
[ 1 tablespoon Olive Oil + 1 small onion + 3 cloves of garlic (not in picture) + 1 carrot + 4 tomatoes + a bunch of button mushroom + 1 courgette + 1/2 green bell pepper + 500ml stock (vegetable,chicken, whatever) + Salt&Pepper to taste ]
Chop the vegetables (I am soooo not going to dictate on how you chop your vegetables. Do it whichever way you like).
Heat the olive oil in a pan. Add the onion and garlic, season to taste. Cook for 5 minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the carrot and cook for another 5 minutes.
Add in the tomatoes and break up slightly with a wooden spoon.
Add in the stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Add in the courgette and mushroom last, leave to simmer for another 5 minutes.
Now you have 2 choices, you can either:
- Cook the tortellinis in a separate pot and then put them in at the last minutes, or
- Throw in the tortellinis straight into the soup and cook for 3-4 minutes.
I went with the latter in attempt to minimize the dishwashing afterwards.
Serve in a bowl/plate with parsley scattered on top and with shaves of Parmesan.
Making Zucchini, Chilli and Mint Pizza
Here’s the second recipe of the weekend. I guess you can say the house inhabitants ate very well today.
Zucchini, Chilli and Mint Pizza:
[ 2 large flatbreads or 4 small ones + olive oil + 2 zucchini + 1 garlic clove + 1 red chilli + Mozarella cheese + A handful of mint leaves]
If you can’t get your hands on some flatbreads, I’m also posting up a recipe for pizza dough below. Mind you, the calorie count will no longer be the same.
Pizza dough recipe: (Makes 4 medium sized-pizza base)
[225g flour + 1 tablespoon instant dry yeast + 2 tablespoon olive oil + 175ml warm water + 1 teaspoon sugar + a pinch of salt]
Put the flour, yeast and salt into a bowl and mix.
Dissolve the sugar and yeast into the water. Add the oil.
Mix the liquid into the flour. It might seem a bit wet but leave the dough for 15-30 minutes covered in a damp cloth.
Turn the dough into a floured surface and knead until smooth. Divide into 4. Roll out each piece of dough into a circle of desired thickness.
I used a skillet to grill them straightaway and make some flatbread, but you can always put it in the oven after you’ve put on the topping.
Cut the zucchini into ribbons using a potato peeler. Grate or crush the garlic and chop the chilli.
Toss the zucchini with the olive oil, garlic and chilli. Season well
Brush the flatbread or pizza base with olive oil. Pile on the zucchini and add the mozarella.
Grill until the cheese melts and the zucchini starts to wilt. Add a splash more olive oil and scatter the mint leaves on top.
Nutritional information (per pizza):
292 cals, protein 11g, carbohydrate 43.4g, fat 9.5g, saturated fat 1.3g, fibre 5.4g, salt 1.1g
Making Beet-Pumpkin Ravioli
I made my first pasta when I was in the 7th grade. It was on a Saturday after I watched a segment of Cucina Valentina on the E! Channel. I watched her made the pasta (tagliatelle it was, if I remember correctly) from scratch on her marbled counter, outdoors. She said the only way to make pasta is on a counter, not on some bowl or container. I watched her beat the eggs and made a well in the center of the flour and marveled at how quickly she worked the flour into the eggs and how it transformed into a bowl of yellowish dough. Watched how she fed the dough into the pasta machine and rolled it with such fervor. I was mesmerized.
I, ofcourse, did not make mine on the counter (though our house did have a marbled one). I made a well in my flour, inside a mixing bowl. Pour the beaten eggs into the center, gathered the flour with a fork and watched (with unbelieving eyes) as it forms a ball of dough. Then I too fed it through my mother’s pasta machine (though she never used it to make pasta). I made a pile of tagliatelle which I boiled and served with a beef burger-ketchup “bolognaise”. It was pure bliss.
So here’s 8 years later, with yet another pasta-making session. This time it’s colored burgundy by a beetroot. Don’t be put off by the colour, the taste it pretty unchanged. Stuffed with buttery pumpkin and served with browned butter sauce on top of a bed of blanched asparagus, this will pretty much make your day :)
[ 1 fist-sized (230g) beetroot + 380g all-purpose flour + 3 eggs + 1 tablespoon olive oil + 1 tsp salt ]
Cut the greens off. Wash the beetroot.
Boil beetroot in salted (with 1 tsp olive oil) water until fork tender, about 30 mins.
Looks a bit like something from a Goosebump series.
Once fork tender, take the beetroot off the heat and give it a rinse. Then peel the skin and cut into cubes
Put into a food processor and pulse for a minute or two
Add in 1 tablespoon of olive oil
Add in the 2 eggs
Blitz until smooth
Dump the flour onto a working surface or a counter. If you feel a bit intimidated, I suggest using a mixing bowl. Nothing wrong with that at all.
Make a well in the centre of the flour
Pour the beetroot mixture/puree into the centre
Crack in the last egg. Now at this point, all you’ll think about is how much of an ungodly mess this is. But persevere and you will be rewarded!
Beat the mixture and quickly gather the flour into the centre with a fork
Incorporate the flour as fast as you can. Then use your hand to knead and incorporate the last bits of flour. Set dough aside, covered with damp cloth to prevent it from drying.
Butternut Squash Filling:
[ 1 medium sized pumpkin (or any kind of squash) + 3 cloves of garlic + 3 shallots + 1 tablespoon grated strong cheddar cheese + 1 tsp cinnamon + 1 tsp nutmeg + 1 tsp salt + 1 tsp olive oil ]
Half the pumpkin
Scoop out the seeds (seeds can be saved for roasting!)
Rub pumpkin halves with olive oil and salt
Put them cut-side down on a baking tray and put in the oven at 170 degrees C for about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel the shallots and garlic and sautee until soft in some olive oil
When the pumpkin halves are tender when pierced with a knife, take them out. Wait for them to cool slightly and scoop out the flesh.
Add in the rest of the ingredients (shallots, garlic, cheese, salt, nutmeg & cinnamon)
Making the Ravioli:
Since I don’t own a pasta machine in my current place, I had to make do with a rolling pin. The Italians said that when you’re making (or rolling) pasta properly, you should work up a layer of sweat on your back. That just made me LOL. But yes, it is hard work.
If you do own a pasta machine, then:
- Turn the dial to next narrower setting.
- Pass dough through twice, gently supporting it with your palm.
- Continue to press dough, passing it through ever-finer settings, two passes on each setting, until sheet is almost translucent and very thin but still intact.
- The dough will stretch to about 16 inches long.
** If dough bubbles or tears, pass it through again, and dust with flour if the dough is sticking.
If you don’t own one, then do what I did. Roll that dough until very, very thin. As thin as you can.
Then measure out your preferred size of raviolis and cut the dough into strips.
Spoon 1 tsp of filling for each ravioli
Dust the ravioli to prevent them from sticking to one another
If you’re planning to have some rightaway, then boil in some salted water for about 5-7 mins.
[ 3 tablespoons of butter + 2 shallots + 1 tsp oregano (dried or fresh) ]
Brown the butter slowly over low heat, throw in the shallots and sautee until soft. Then add in the oregano and the ravioli.
Serve on top of some blanched asparagus spears