Mangia Questo!

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Garden Risotto May 29, 2009

Filed under: Italiano,one-dish,vegetarian — mangiaquesto @ 11:21 am

GdnRisotoThis risotto is full of vegetables and makes a nice main or side dish.  It uses red vermouth instead of wine, which gives it a rich flavour and means you don’t have to mess around with spicing to get a nice flavour.  To make 4 servings as a main dish, you’ll need:

4 cups of chicken stock (you might not use it all) – You can substitute vegetable stock for a vegetarian version

2 tablespoons of butter

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 small onion or a shallot

2 cloves of garlic, minced or grated

1-1/2 to 2 carrots, quartered then sliced (1/8″ thick)

1 zucchini, quartered then sliced (1/8″ thick)

1/3 cup frozen peas

1-1/2 cups of arborio or carnaroli rice

1/4 cup of red vermouth (I’m sure white vermouth would be fine too)

1 tablespoon of parmesan cheese

Before you start, here are some basic risotto tips.  The biggest thing is not to rush it.  You can’t add all of the stock at once, but rather need to add it a ladle-full at a time.  Another difference between this and most dishes is that it needs your full attention.  Don’t leave it on the stove and go do something else.  You should be stirring almost the whole time.  

Prep all of the vegetables.  Heat the chicken stock in a pot over medium-low heat.  You’ll need to keep it warm throughout the risotto cooking process.  In a deep pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat and add the olive oil.  Add the garlic, onion, carrots, and zucchini.  Sauté for 3-4 minutes then add peas.

Pour the rice into the pan and toast it for 1-2 minutes (it should start to look somewhat transparent).  Add the vermouth and a ladle full of the warm chicken stock.  Stir regularly until all of the liquid has been absorbed.  The rest of the risotto making follows the same pattern:  Add a ladle full of warm stock, stir and wait for it to absorb, add a ladle full of stock, stir and wait for it to absorb…you get the idea.

Once the rice is no longer crunchy, but still a bit al dente (“to the teeth” = just a bit chewy), stop adding stock and stir in the parmesan cheese.  The risotto should have a creamy texture.  Serve immediately.  Buon appetito!



Home-Made Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage and Walnuts January 18, 2009

Filed under: finds,grill/bbq,Italiano,one-dish,Uncategorized,vegetarian — mangiaquesto @ 1:23 am

Pumpkin and squash season is winding down, so here’s a way to use them while they’re at their best.  This recipe is more of a project than an everyday meal idea, but the good news is that it’s not something you can really mess up.  It might take a while, but you’ll like the results…and you’ll feel like a master chef.  I find this kind of cooking therapeutic, and more of a hobby than a necessity.  If you’re in a rush, but still want a similar end result, I’ve included some time-savers in case don’t want to make the recipe completely from scratch.  To make four servings, you’ll need:

Home-Made Pasta, 1 batch

If you don’t want to make your own pasta from scratch (I don’t blame you, it’s fairly labour intensive), you could use wonton wrappers, or buy the fresh lasagna sheets from the refrigerated pasta section.


One pie pumpkin or other squash (butternut, acorn, hubbard…whatever is available)

1/3 cup of grated parmesan cheese

a pinch of nutmeg

salt & pepper, to taste

I haven’t tried it, but I don’t see why you wouldn’t be able to use canned pumpkin puree instead of fresh pumpkin, as long as it’s not seasoned.


1/3 cup butter

1 tbsp olive oil

40 fresh sage leaves

1/3 to 1/2 cup of walnut pieces

If you’re using fresh pumpkin or squash, the first step is to roast it.  Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Pour some water into a shallow baking pan (a cookie sheet with edges is fine, you just need enough water to cover the bottom).  Break off the stem of the squash or pumpkin, cut it in half and remove the seeds and stringy inside (this isn’t part of the recipe, but roasted squash and pumpkin seeds are delicious, so you could soak them in some water to clean them off, wrinse and drain them, then salt them lightly and spread them on a cookie sheet and bake at 350°F for about 20-25 minutes).  Back to the current recipe:  Bake the pumpkin or squash halves cut-side down for about 1 hour, until soft (you can tell they’re done when you can easily piece the skin with a fork)

Once the pumpkin has cooled, scoop out the flesh and place it in a medium mixing bowl.  Mash it well with a fork or use an immersion/hand blender.  Add the parmesan cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Now the real magic happens.  If you made your own pasta, I suggest flattening out one sheet of pasta at a time and laying it on your counter.  Use a round glass to cut circles out of the pasta sheet, making them as close together as possible.  Like cookie dough, you could roll the scraps into a ball when you’re done and run them through the pasta machine to make another sheet.  If you’re using wonton wrappers you can have square ravioli instead.  On every second pasta circle, place a little bit of the filling (about a tablespoon), leaving about a quarter inch of edging all the way around so you can close the ravioli.  Place another pasta circle on top and press the edges first with your fingers, then with a fork to make a good seal.

Once the ravioli are made, place them in a large container (or on a plate) lined with damp paper towel and cover it with damp paper towels as well.  Separate layers of ravioli a with more damp paper towel.

In a large pan, melt the butter in a pan over medium-low heat with the olive oil, sage leaves and walnut pieces.  Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it well.  Add the ravioli and cook for 3 minutes.

Drain the ravioli (don’t rinse!) and add it to the pan with the sage butter sauce.  Serve and enjoy all you hard work!

P.S…This is also pretty good reheated in the microwave.


A Healthier Alfredo July 22, 2008

Filed under: Italiano,one-dish,vegetarian — mangiaquesto @ 4:13 pm
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If you’re like me, you may have wondered in the past who buys evaporated milk, and what they use it for.  I was watching TV the other day and Rose Reisman was doing some kind of cooking segment.  She said you can use evaporated milk in place of cream in any recipe!  I’ve been patiently waiting to try this out and tonight was finally the night.  The recipe that follows is for pappardelle (wider than fettucine and made with egg) alfredo with zucchini and mushrooms.  You need:

1 1/2 cups of sliced mushrooms or so

1 1/2 zucchinis, cut in half lengthwise and sliced in semi-circles

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1/8 cup of butter

1 tablespoon of olive oil

250 grams of pappardelle pasta (long, wide egg noodles), or fettuccine, or whatever you have

1 can of evaporated milk (2% worked for me)

1/4 cup of grated parmesan or romano cheese

6 leaves of fresh basil, if you have it

3 tablespoons of salt

black pepper

pinch of nutmeg

Start with a big pan (you’ll end up tossing all of the pasta and sauce in it) and heat the olive oil.  Add the sliced mushrooms and zucchini and cook over medium heat.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  When the mushrooms and zucchini are a bit soft, add half of the butter and all of the garlic.  Salt the boiling pasta water (I use about a palm-full) and add the pasta.

Add the evaporated milk, parmesan or romano, and the rest of the butter to the veggies in the pan.  Turn the heat up to high and bring this to a simmer, stirring often.  The goal is to reduce it a bit so it becomes creamier.  Drain the pasta when it is al dente.

When the sauce is a little bit less runny (about the same time the pasta is done), add the pepper, nutmeg and basil (I think the nutmeg and basil are totally optional).  I have to say I thought my sauce was way too runny, but when I put it over the pasta it was perfect, so don’t worry.  Drain the pasta and toss it in the pan with the sauce.  Serve and feel good about yourself for using milk and not cream, and about half the butter called for in regular recipes.  This serves 2 very hungry people with a bowl of leftovers for lunch.


Calzoni…ok, Calzones. July 21, 2008

Filed under: Italiano,one-dish,vegetarian — mangiaquesto @ 1:36 pm
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Tonight I made calzoni. They’re basically giant homemade pizza pops. I started by making the dough using a recipe for pizza dough I’ve used a couple of times. If you don’t feel like making your own you can buy pre-made dough in the frozen foods section.

You will also need:

Tomato sauce (I used Ragu pasta sauce because that’s what I had)

Mozzarella cheese – about 1 1/2 cups to 2 cups, grated/shredded

Filling: I used about 6 mushrooms, sliced and a small zucchini

1 tbsp olive oil

Fresh basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 450 F.

Ok, so first you need to pre-cook the veggies. Heat the olive oil in a pan. Cut zucchini lengthwise and slice, and slice mushrooms too. Put them all in the pan and cook until soft.

If you’re making the dough, divide it into two balls. Take one ball of dough and stretch it by hand until it’s somewhat round and about 1/4″ thick. Spread tomato sauce on the circle of dough, leaving a one-inch perimeter. Next add half of the cheese to the circle. Now put the veggies on only half of the sauce/cheese-covered area and put basil leaves on top.

Fold the circle in half and pinch the edges to make a pocket. Then roll the edges up tightly so there won’t be any leaks. Repeat. Bake on a cookie sheet for 20-25 minutes until the crust is golden.


Pasta with Pesto, Peas & Mushrooms July 12, 2008

Filed under: one-dish,vegetarian — mangiaquesto @ 4:54 pm
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I was baking cookies and looking for something quick to make between scooping dough onto the pan. This is pretty good as far as quick-ish one-dish meals go.

Ingredients (makes 2 big bowls, serves 2 fairly hungry people as a main dish):

200g of pasta (I used whole wheat rotini so it was heartier)

1 cup of frozen peas

1 pound (454g) sliced white mushrooms

3 tablespoons of pesto

3 tablespoons of olive oil

2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced

salt and pepper to taste

Start by warming 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a medium pan and bringing a large pot of water to a boil. Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook over medium-low. I like to cover them on-and-off so they cook faster.

When the mushrooms are about half cooked (looking mushy but still kind of fat), add the garlic. Then put about a palm-full of salt in the boiling water and add the pasta. Add the peas to the pasta for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Cook the pasta and the mushroom/garlic mix until both are done to your liking.

Drain the pasta/peas and put them back into the pot. Scoop the garlic/mushroom mix into the pot and stir. Add the pesto and the remaining olive oil (more if you like) and salt and pepper if you want and stir. Done!