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Old 02-13-2006, 06:47 PM   #1
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Question Need some help with new recipe

Okay, here's my deal.

I have an idea to make something, but I don't want to go into it blind. This is what I envision: A cheese filled pasta, with a thick tomato sauce.....something that can be a main course, and the sauce could even include meat (like maybe sausage of some sort).

I had looked at making my own Ravioli filled with a ricotta type of filling; what I found as "Ravioli con la ricotta" which sound to me like...ravioli filled with ricotta.

I'm not opposed to making my own pasta-knowing full well that I could make it fresh, and it would probably taste better, but I still wonder if there is something(pasta) with a cheese-based filling that I can buy pre-made at my local Cub-Foods, and then make my own sauce for.

Any ideas on a good meal with these thoughts in mind?


Thank you very much!
Ryan (19, Northern MN)

BTW, the whole idea is to make pasta for a special girl in my life and I to share when she comes to visit me. I like to cook, and we both love pasta...so I want to make something extra good for two.

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Old 02-13-2006, 07:12 PM   #2
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not just my opinion but that of many pro chefs...pasta was invented to preserve wheat and eggs, neither of which have long shelf lives, but made into pasta can last in a dry climate quite some time. (Spaghetti is always the dried pasta btw) Fresh pasta is of course wonderful. You make it yourself. Store bought fresh isn't fresh, period. (It just hasn't been properly dried.) So if there is a pasta maker in town and you buy his/her today's batch and cook it tonight, that's ok. But you go to the market and get something brought in on Sat, made last Thursday...not fresh, not worth it.

So you can make those wonderful rolled tubes that are stuffed, like a manicotti. Or you can buy them dried and use them...cook to soften, stuff, and bake. Same with shells, etc. Or do a layered zitti, or penne. Or go lasagna.

The point is make a beaut of a sause say with sweet sausage and brocolli rabe or escarole, and buy a good quality durum semolia pasta finish with a top parmesan freshly grated. I think you'll make your point.
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Old 02-13-2006, 07:33 PM   #3
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Right. It makes more sense to me to make it fresh. and it's something I don't think will be difficult for me.

I need more detail though. I know what I like, and I can envision it, but I need more detail on what kind of sauce, and what particular noodles and things I can make.

Though, I suppose it just depends on what *I* want to make for shape...it all cooks the same way if it is made from the same thing.....shape doesn't really change it..

I'm just about to look up the things you just suggested, but more detail for a non-pasta expert would help me a lot :-)

Ryan
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Old 02-13-2006, 07:49 PM   #4
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well, the "cheese" to stuff with is ricotta, (not really a cheese but a cheese by product) and it is traditional to add chopped baby spinach and a bit of nutmeg and an egg to it..(mix well) you can make flat pasta sheets and cut to size, stuff and roll...make sure you place them seem side down in the pan.

The sauce is up to you... sauted onion and garlic are normal, and many like sliced mushrooms in there too. A splash of dry wine brings out many hidden flavors in tomato sauce. Basil is a natural herb for this...fennel if you go sweet sausage, oregano if you go peppery sausage. Zucchini?? up to you. grate some good parmesan before baking and again just before serving. A few chili flakes for zip if you like. 45min at 350. mangia!
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Old 02-13-2006, 07:59 PM   #5
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I was thinking maybe something like this:

ricotta stuffed pasta (like you say, with small pieces of spinach in the stuffing)

and for the sauce- a think tomato sauce with Basil, and little cut up sausage(not sure what kind to look for there though.)

then I need to figure out a bread.'

Oh, and are you telling me that I cook the pasta in the oven? i thought boiling.....

see, I'm inexperienced :-\
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Old 02-13-2006, 08:06 PM   #6
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The tried and tested dish of cannelloni comes to mind. You can buy some good cannelloni tubes which you can stuff with your cheese filling, cover with a beautiful tomato sauce and bake. Almost all pasta is cooked in boiling water, however a number of dishes (such as cannelloni and others) include baking as well.

In this case you really are better off buying the ready-made tubes. Unless you have a pasta machine and alot of patience you are better off buying the tubes. Without a pasta machine your looking at a fair bit of work rolling out the dough to an even thickness. Even a pasta machine forming the tubes is more difficult than creating other shapes (such as your noodle pastas, ravioli, tortellini).

Buy some good quality cannelloni tubes and concentrate on making the filling and sauce.

Pasta:
cannelloni tubes
ricotta cheese (fresh stuff, not from a tub)
spinach
nutmeg, to taste
black pepper and salt
garlic crushed, to taste

Prepare the tubes as directed on the package if need be (most brands will instruct you to cook the pasta in boiling salted water for a length of time to soften them up). Mix your ingredients together until well combined then spoon into the shells.

Tomato sauce:
400g tin of whole roma (plum/italian) tomatoes
fresh basil (or majoram, or rosemary)
2 tsp dried oregano
garlic, finely sliced
red wine vinegar
extra-virgin olive oil
bit of dried red chilli, if you want
you can throw some nice pancetta in here as well, cook until crisp with the garlic if you do

Add some regular olive oil to a pan over medium heat, throw in the garlic (as much as you like) and cook until softened. Add your tomatoes to the pan. Add some chilli and the dried oregano and mix around gently as to avoid breaking up the tomatoes. Increase the heat and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and let it slowly cook for around 30-45 minutes (the longer you cook it the richer in flavour it becomes). After this time crush the tomatoes with a wooden spoon and add as much red wine vinegar as you want (I like to add a bit as the acidity of the vinegar helps cut through the creaminess of the ricotta and the sweetness of the tomatoes). Remove the pan from the heat, tear up and add as much basil as you want.

Place your stuffed cannelloni shells in an oiled baking dish, spoon the sauce over the shells and bake for around 30 minutes in a preheated 180'C (350'F) oven.

Plate your pasta up, drizzle with a good amount of extra-virgin olive oil, scatter with a few more basil leaves and a few shavings of parmesan.
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Old 02-13-2006, 08:22 PM   #7
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Haggis, you are my saviour. haha!
Thank you!!!!!
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Old 02-13-2006, 08:28 PM   #8
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Another idea that is pretty good for a beginning cook is to buy the large shell type pasta (about the size of a golf ball) and boil them as per the instructions on the box, but only about 2/3 of the way. Then stuff them. Put about 1/4 cup of your sauce on the bottom of a pyrex baking dish (or stoneware, I just like pyrex because I can see through it) and then lay your shells next to each other, with the filling pointing up. Pour the remainder of the sauce over and bake till bubbly. Then top with around 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella and keep in the oven till it's just about melted.

Don't go crazy on finding the perfect sauce. Do it from your heart, and she will be honored. A nice touch to any tomato based sauce is some really good italian sausage, which has been crumbled and then sauteed in a bit of olive oil before being added to the sauce.

As for the filling for the shells, believe it or not, there's a pretty good recipe on the lasagna noodle box! In the ricotta/egg mix, it does look pretty to cut up a bit of spinach and add it. Best way for this is to use kitchen scissors and make long skinny strips, then cut them in half. Also, a small shake of ground nutmeg is fantastic in the stuffing.

Good luck and I wish you the best!
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Old 02-13-2006, 08:55 PM   #9
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Oh and don't forget the perfect accompaniment to a pasta dish like this is just plain old bruschetta.

Get a traditional italian bread (pane di casa and ciabatta work best, something with a nice crust and chewy texture, if it is already sliced it makes the job even easier), slice it about 1cm (bit less than half an inch) thick if need be.

Now you can bake the bread slices in the oven (real handy considering your going to have your cannelloni in there already!) for about 8-10 minutes or so until they are nicely golden brown. Or you can get a grill pan (you know, the one with ridges on them that make steaks look great), get it nice and hot and grill the slices of bread until the same effect is achieved (you will even get some nice grill marks as well).

Now while the bread is still really got get a nice big fat clove of garlic (take the skin off it and cut in half, you will need one half for each slice) and rub the bread with the cut side. The nicely toasted bread will act like sand paper and the garlic will dissapear in your fingers. Now drizzle the bread with a generous amount of extra-virgin olive oil, a generous pinch of salt and some black pepper and you have the perfect accompaniment to your cannelloni.

Because the garlic is raw it is very garlicky but it will go great when you use it to scoop up the tomato sauce, or smoosh some of the ricotta filling on it. You could put other stuff on top of the bruschetta (like chopped tomatoes, basil and balsamic vinegar, or pesto and mozzarella), but I wouldn't because you have potential toppings right there with the cannelloni.
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Old 02-13-2006, 08:58 PM   #10
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I adore bruschetta, but,
if this is a really special date....do we really want garlic breath?
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