Showing posts with label Pasta. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pasta. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Marcella Hazan's Ragu Bolognese - A Vegetarian Version

After admitting my lack of knowledge of the great food writers of our time last Friday, I decided to get my act together and actually do something about my ignorance.
And so I found myself this Saturday, both cooking Marcella Hazan's Ragu Bolognese and reading her book The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking on my phone, whilst stirring the aforementioned Ragú Bolognese and doing some homework for my Russian class.
And Marcella Hazan already feels like part of the family, her way of teaching sounding a bit like an Italian version of my own grandmother, who loves to cook for us and is kind of old-fashioned about her way of cooking. You see, my grandmother never really go into that whole pasta thing, and to this day I don't think she ever cooked pasta for me. Maybe egg-noodles, but not the eggless, dried Italian kind of pasta. And to this day, she is famous in our family for her crispy skillet-fried potatoes.
I was reminded, too, of my grandmother, when the smells of the Ragú Bolognese started to fill the kitchen, with that scent of wine and mushrooms and butter it smelled as if I stepped into my grandmothers kitchen, leaving me with the desire to one distant day in the future be that grandmother, too.
Do you know that feeling? I can't really picture myself having kids and all, but I have such clear images of myself as a grandmother. I guess I am kind of weird.
Well, so I found myself stirring Marcellas meat sauce, without the meat. I don't know what she would think of that, of that new vegetarian thing. I know my own grandmother is baffled as to what to cook for me, and probably does not understand one bit. But other than substituting the meat for lentils, and adding some mushrooms to compensate for flavour loss, I actually followed Marcellas recipe almost to the letter. I just committed one sin, using red wine instead of white because I had to open bottles of the red and did not want to go out and buy white wine, which I really don't like that much to drink. But other than that, this is as original as a vegetarian version of a meat sauce can get.
I don't know who the original sauce tasted, having learnt about Marcella Hazan only after becoming a vegetarian, but my vegetarian version turned out fantastic. This is something I'd love to serve guests, seeing as it is more difficult to find a vegetarian recipe that is worthy of being served to guests.

Lentil Ragú Bolognese
adapted from this version on Leite's Culinaria

Note: Marcella Hazan's recipe in the book the Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking asks for only one cup each of the milk and wine, and thus requiring less cooking time. I went with the version linked to above since I bought the cookbook only after starting the sauce. I suspect you could cut the liquid ingredients back without compromising flavour all that much. And while I served my ragú with spaghetti, apparantly that is not authentic. If you want to be true to Marcella's recommendation, go with homemade fresh tagliatelle instead of the spaghetti.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil 
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 cup chopped onion
1 1/3 cups chopped celery
1 1/3 cups chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped dried porcini mushrooms
salt and freshly ground black pepper 
2 cups whole milk 
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 
2 cups red wine
3 cups canned imported Italian San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand, with their juice
200g brown lentils, uncooked 
As much spaghetti as you wish, cooked and drained  
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Heat the oil and 6 tablespoons butter in a heavy 5-quart over medium heat until the butter melts and stops foaming. Drop in the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until it has become translucent, about 5 minutes. 
Throw in the celery, carrot and mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes, stirring the vegetables to coat them well with the fat.
Turn the heat to low. Pour in the milk and simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has cooked away completely, about 1 hour. Stir in the nutmeg.
Pour in the wine and let it simmer, stirring frequently, until it has evaporated, about 1 hour.
Add the crushed tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat everything well. When the tomato puree begins to bubble, turn down the heat so that the sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through the surface.
Cook, uncovered, for at least an hour stirring from time to time. If the sauce is getting to dry, add 1/2 cups of water as necessary. 
In the meantime, cook the lentils in plenty of water until soften but not until done. You just want to make them soft enough to give them a quick chop before adding them to the sauce. 
In the last 30 minutes of cooking the sauce, add the coarsely chopped up lentils (I just gave them a quick chop on a cutting board, the food processor seems to skin them rather than cut them into pieces) Cook the sauce until the lentils are soft. At the same time, bring a pot of water to a boil and your pasta according to package instructions, until they are al dente.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to the hot pasta and toss with the sauce. Serve with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Butternut Squash Lasagna Roll Ups

When I was little I loved to go visit my grandmother. The whole family travelled by train to Basel, a journey that takes little more than an hour, but felt soo long back then. The best visits were when my grandmother picked us up at the train station. Me and my siblings wanted each to see her first, to run and leap into her arms first. We then would take the tram to her place, were she had already lovingly prepared the same thing every single time. Buttery roasted potatoes. A huge leg of lamb, roasted in the oven. And some snap peas she grew in her garden in spring and always cooked for me when I visited because she knew I loved them. These snap peas, they made me felt loved.
Back then I learnt unconsciously what I know now. We can show our love with food. Be it the cupcakes you make vegan or gluten-free to celebrate with a friend who would have had to go without or the batch of cookies you make to bring to a friend when you are invited for dinner. The dinner you make that is anything but spectacular, but shared.

I made these lasagna roll ups this week for lunch, for me and my boyfriend. They require a little time to make, maybe not the best fit for a weekday lunch. But still, they are easy to make, unfussy with a simple, classical pairing of squash, sage and hazelnuts. They are soft and sweet and crunchy and herby all in one bite. And they just look really lovely, something you'd serve someone you love. Go cook for someone you love this week. Make it something special. Or just share a simple meal together.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Soba with Mushrooms and Spinach

As a child, my diet consisted mostly of Swiss and Italian dishes. Pasta, potatoes, gratin and such. We were fed the occasional Thai curry or sweet and sour pork, but not much else from the exotic department. And it is only in these two cuisines, those I know best, that I stay true to the original recipes and ingredient combinations.
I am not that familiar with Japanese food, my experience of it is limited to 2 or 3 restaurant visits in Switzerland or Germany. I also make sushi from time to time, but I would not consider myself a sushi expert. So when I tell you this dish is Japanese, I am probably wrong.
I cook soba and other Asian noodles like I cook Italian pasta, in salted water, on a rolling boil. I learnt to rinse them in cold water after cooking, but I usually reheat them with the sauce I want to serve them with. And it turns out fine, even great with this dish.

Buckwheat and mushrooms are to be considered close friends in the kitchen, at least in mine. Whenever I cook with buckwheat, I want to add mushrooms, these two earthy flavours complement each other so well. This dish was inspired by a recipe by Heidi Swanson, her Black Sesame Otsu, a recipe from her second book that you can also find on her blog. I made it as she wrote it, too, and I love it, but I also like to change things up. And I have to say, the mushrooms do more for the dish than the tofu in the original recipe. I actually quite like tofu, but it is does not add much flavor to a dish.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Warm Moroccan Spiced Broccoli Orzo Salad

I did not actually plan on posting today's lunch until I tried my first bite. I am at home, writing an outline for my bachelor thesis, sanding the sides of my bed to later paint them and preparing for tomorrows classes. I only planned on making a quick lunch, using what I have.
A look in the fridge told me that I really needed to use this broccoli that I got in my csa last week (or was it the week before that? I really don't know). A quick search on 101cookbooks provided me with an idea for the broccoli: Broccoli Orzo salad. I mostly follow the recipe when it came to the main ingredients but decided to add some Moroccan spices. Or what I think are Moroccan spices, I really am not an expert on Moroccan cooking. Harissa, a little cinnamon and some preserved lemon and I am in heaven.
I have to keep this short, should be back to work by now.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Roasted Carrot and Sesame Pesto

While I have been talking and thinking about "In Defense of Food" in the last weeks, some amazing bloggers started the Food Matters Project. I missed the first two weeks because I was away and not cooking much, but now I'm back and ready to join in.

Right now I want to talk about our holidays to Spain. I have been to Spain before, but never to the south, (or the north, but we kept that for other holidays). We travelled by bus (30+ hours) to Granada. You may have seen pictures of the Alhambra before, but it was even more breathtaking when I saw it in 3-D for the first time. We loved this town, it is just beautiful.
It was cold, though. The funny thing about it is that it was about 15°C warmer than in Switzerland, but they arent used to cold winters in Spain, and without or only little heating it was really cold at night. 
We then travelled on to Cordoba and Seville, both equally amazing cities. The last few days we then spent close to the sea, hiking a day, relaxing more.

Regarding food, I'm always a bit disappointed when in Spain. There is an abundace of fresh produce available, even now in winter when I usually struggle with finding new ways to cook carrots and beets. But the Spanish Cocina somehow manages to fry everything in sight, and to not use the vegetables around.

I researched some veggie friendly restaurants before we went to Spain, but even then it was quite difficult to eat healthy, and not just Tortilla Española. There were some great thing, too, though. I really enjoyed the Tostada con Tomate as a breakfast (Toasted Bread with Tomato, I'll share a recipe when I find out how to do this with canned tomatoes, or in Summer). I loved the gazpacho, though it was not really in season right now (it's a summer soup) and the fresh orange juices. I loved the idea of eggplant with honey, but have to find a way to do it without having to fry the eggplant. I had a great Tuna Tataki with Quinoa in a restaurant in Cordoba, and all the rest we ate was not bad either, just not how I would cook with all this produce available.

Well, I'm back home and ready to incorporate some spanish flavours into my cooking. An idea for a vegtable-heavy paella is forming in my head, and I have some things written down I want to try out over the next weeks. But right now, I want to share with you what I did with this weeks recipe of the Food Matters Project. This weeks recipe of the Food Matters Project, a Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Pesto, was chosen by Heather from girlichef. I have made a similar spread or "pesto" before, and really loved it, but it is deep winter here in Switzerland now, so I wanted to change things up a bit. Well, a bit turned to quite a lot. My version of this pesto is Asian inspired, I guess I needed something different after a heavy dose of olive oil in Spain the last few days. Carrots are roasted with a few spices, then processed with sesame seeds and seasoned with soy sauce and mirin.

I used this pesto on top of a bowl of udon noodles (I would have used soba, but had none around), I guess you could use it as a dip or spread, too.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Buckwheat Pasta with Mushrooms and Watercress

I'm away on holidays when this post is published. My boyfriend and I, we're off to Andalusia, Spain for almost two weeks. I'll take my laptop with me, but I'm not sure whether I'll be able to post anything new while were away.
I made this dish with the homemade pasta I posted earlier this week. We loved it, the buckwheat goes really well with the mushrooms. Oh, and I'm just slightly obsessed with buckwheat flour lately.
For this pasta dish you saute onions, lots of mushrooms, flavor it with some wine and a few herbs. Then you throw the mushroom sauce with the cooked pasta and a handful of watercress. Love it, really simple but so fancy. (Not so simple if you make the pasta, too, though.)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Homemade Buckwheat Pasta

I made pasta the other day, as part of my quest to make more of my own food. Today I want to share the recipe for the pasta itself, and share how I made it. I even refrained from using the pasta machine I actually have stolen borrowed from my parents. We used to make pasta a few times a year on a weekend, but it's been quite a while without. But making them all by myself, sweating in the process, getting quite a workout with all the kneading and rolling is my definition of fun, and it also ensures that everyone can do it. Yes, you can, too. It's simple, a bit time consuming, but simple. And fun, if you are like me. So let's start.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pasta with Thyme

I am back to college. Suddenly I have to shift from the lazy days of summer to a busyness I don't always like. I already miss the whole days spent in the kitchen. The long elaborate meals I shared with my boyfriend. The hours spent reading about food and cooking. The long bike rides. The spontaneous jumps into pools and lakes. The little things you don't really notice until they are over. 

But I am also happy to be back. I miss the structure of college days in summer. It requires a lot of effort to fit in running when I don't have my days, my times to just go. I miss the conversations, the challenges and the opportunities to learn.
But college also changes my cooking and eating habits. When I get home at 6.30 I'm just too hungry to wait longer than 7 till I can eat. I eat more pasta, more sandwiches for lunch and more not-so-tasty food in the cafeteria at college.

These last days I used lots of thyme. I bought a bunch, then I bought some more, and now I even picked lots of it in my parents garden. Until now, I sort of overlooked thyme, but with the colder temperatures, it is just right for me.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Pasta with Wild Mushrooms

Since I can remember, I went on a mushroom foray with my grandmother almost every summer. I remember getting up really early, we left when the grass was still wet. We packed something for lunch, and she carried the basket. I remember running around in the wood, bringing the mushrooms to my grandmother to ask if they were edible, and more important, delicious. We walked around for hours, with our eyes scanning the ground. We then went back to the camper, cleaned all the mushrooms and she made mushroom toast for us. She used to toast the bread in a pan with some butter, then we spooned a mushroom ragout, made with more butter, onion and white wine, on top. I loved it, and I still do.

My grandmother is older now. We still do this once a year, although I'm sure I missed some summers I now don't remember. We start not until about 10 in the morning, and we are back after about 2 hours. But I still love these moments with my grandmother.

This year I met her a week ago, we spent 3 hours in the wood and came back with about 6 mushrooms. The weather was too dry for the mushrooms. I plan on going again in a week or so, but until then I had to rely on my supermarket to provide my wild mushrooms.

I picked up all varieties of wild mushrooms they had in my supermarket, I'm sure not all of them are available all over the world. You can use a mixture of probably most mushrooms you can find in a supermarket. There are edible mushrooms that have to be blanched before you can prepare them the way you want, but I don't think they are sold in supermarkets. If you are not sure, check it out on Google, I'm in no way a mushroom expert.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Bavette with Lentils, Roasted Tomatoes and Onions

This recipe was inspired by Pasta with Roasted Tomato Sauce that I just saw today. I new I wanted to do something with Pasta and Lentils, but the thought of tomatoes roasting in the oven was just too irresistible.

You need quite a lot pans and pots for this, or at least more than I normally use on a normal weekday. First I wanted to slowly brown the onions in a skillet, but then I decided to just throw them in with the tomatoes and the garlic.

 They got soft and mild in flavor in the oven, rather sweet too. Just like the garlic.

I used two types of lentils because I loved how it looked, but the red ones kind of lose their color and turn a less interesting brown.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Penne with Tofu and Cauliflower

I haven't been to active in the last days here because I've got a lot to do for university. However, I still need to eat and I did cook some things I might post later on. This is just a quick post about yesterdays dinner.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pasta with Tomatoes, Orange and Mint

Almost every day of the week I'm home late. I'm at university or at work until 6pm and just not home till 6.30 or 7. My recipes reflect this lifestyle most of the time. I love to spend a lot of time in the kitchen to prepare something special. It is really relaxing to spend hours in the kitchen. But for the weekdays, I really need quick recipes since I'm usually starving when I get home. This pasta dish takes about 20 minutes to prepare, although there is not a lot to prepare in these 20 minutes.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Linguine with Spiced Butter

I love pasta. I could eat pasta with some sort of sauce every single day. Or just plain pasta with a little butter and parmesan. Or cheddar. That is what I often ate when I lived in Galway (Ireland) for 3 months. My kitchen was little and it lacked all sorts of kitchen utensils. This made it difficult to cook something decent. Often I just boiled water, made myself some pasta, added a tablespoon of (salted) butter and grated some cheddar to put on top. I lost a few pounds during that time but probably also a few taste buds.
Since then I've evolved, and never went back to eating pasta with butter. But when I found the recipe for pappardelle with spiced butter on 101cookbooks I new I had to try it.

I made the spiced butter a bit differently. I only melted the butter, added the spices and then let it cool down and become solid. After that you can use the spiced butter for anything you want, I plan to make mashed potatoes with the spiced butter.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Linguine with Red Chard

When I saw Red Chard in the supermarket I was intrigued by its color. I just had to take it home with me. After looking through my cookbooks I came up with this recipe. It was inspired by a recipe I found in "tibits at home". (tibits is a small restaurant chain that only serves vegetarian food, and this is their cookbook) The original recipe called for a creamy sauce with lots of milk and cream, but since I wanted to highlight the flavor of the chard I made something simpler.