Wednesday, April 23, 2014

White Bean and Artichoke Stuffed Ravioli with a Lemon-Wine Sauce

For someone who has a deep and unabiding love for pasta, it's really sort of amazing that I've never tried my hand at making pasta from scratch ... until now, that is.

I approached this particular project with the preparation that one needs to climb Everest. I read books, searched the internet for pasta dough recipes (Spoiler Alert: after all of that researching, I ended up going with the recipe on the back of the Bob's Red Mill Semolina Flour bag. But now that I know that I can actually make ravioli, I will definitely be experimenting!), tried to come up with a tasty filling, and had a little too much fun at a cooking supplies store.

And when I was actually able to produce said raviolis, I celebrated AS THOUGH I had climbed Everest. 
I took this picture for posterity's sake.  This is also about the time I started doing my equivalent of a touchdown dance.
Now, even though I'm being a bit dramatic, don't be intimidated by ravioli-making.  It's not as complicated as I thought it would be--though it will give you a good goin'-back-to-the-good-'ol-days-and-makin'-things-from-scratch boost.  Homesteading, here we come? Er, maybe not.

While I bought a fancy-schmancy ravioli press (I bought it on sale, okay?), you don't need one. A circle-shaped cookie cutter works just fine and will give you slightly bigger raviolis (which means more stuffing in the center!)

For the filling and sauce, I wanted something simple and light so that I could spend my energy concentrating on actual ravioli formation.  The outcome was tasty and very flavorful!

So, without further ado....

White Bean and Artichoke Stuffed Ravioli with a Lemon-Wine Sauce

Pasta Dough (I used the recipe on the bag of Semolina Flour)
1.5 cups of semolina flour
2 eggs
2 tbsp of olive oil
2tbsp of water
1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup of drained white beans (I used Great Northern)
4 artichoke hearts (canned)
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp of white wine
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup of shredded Fontina cheese (optional: You can also add shredded vegan mozzarella or no cheese at all)

1 tbsp of butter or non-dairy butter spread
1/4 cup of the white beans with the liquid (pureed)
1 tsp of minced garlic
1/4 cup of diced onions
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 tsp of lemon zest
1/2 cup of white wine
1 tsp of minced basil (julienne some basil for garnish!)

First, make the dough by adding all dough ingredients to a mixer with a dough hook (you can also mix by hand).  Knead the dough in the mixer or by hand for 10 minutes.  Yes, 10 minutes!  Almost every recipe I looked at gave 10 minutes as the suggested time-- it needs that time to come together as dough! Once the dough has come together, lightly flour the dough and let it rest while you work on the filling. 

In a food processor, pulse the ingredients (minus the cheese) for the filling (setting aside the 1/4 cup of beans and liquid for the sauce)until the mixture resembles as paste.  Grate the cheese and add it to the mixture.  Taste for seasonings and add as needed.

Flour EVERYTHING-- the work surface, whatever you'll be using to form the raviolis, the rolling pin, the cat--everything.  The dough is fairly sticky! Ensure that you dough is elastic by kneading it once or twice.  Start by cutting the dough in half and begin rolling out the dough until it's about 1/8th of an inch thick.  If you have a ravioli mold you'll be working with, lay the dough onto the mold, lightly pressing into the indented filling spaces (If you have dough that goes past the mold, cut that off and save it to use for more raviolis).  If you are using the cookie-cutter method, start cutting out circles from the dough. Place about 1 tsp of the filling into each of the ravioli molds--be careful not to overfill the raviolis. 

Roll out the other half of the dough until it's 1/8th of an inch thick and lay it over the mold (if you're using the cookie-cutter, you can simply make more raviolis!). Roll the flat sheet of dough over the ravioli form using a rolling pin, until the raviolis are pressed together (if you've made the cookie-cutter raviolis, you'll want to close the raviolis by lightly scoring the edges with a fork).  At this point, you will be very glad that you went on a flouring spree because you'll need to pull the raviolis out of the mold.  Place formed raviolis onto a piece of parchment paper, put a large pot of water on the stove to boil and do a quick touchdown dance. Congratulations!  You made ravioli!

For the sauce: In a food processor, process the reserved beans and liquid until creamy.  Add butter to a skillet on medium heat.  Once the butter is melted, add the garlic and onions and saute until the onions are translucent.  Add the bean cream, wine, lemon juice, and basil and simmer on low heat while you boil the ravioli.

The raviolis are usually cooked when they float to the top of the pot (make sure you test one, in case yours needs to be boiled a little longer)-- about 4 minutes. Add the raviolis and a little bit of the starchy pasta water to the sauce and let the raviolis simmer in the sauce for a couple of minutes. 

Serve warm and garnish with some basil and shredded Fontina cheese!


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Hearty Vegetarian 'Bolognese' Sauce (Quick Sunday Dinner!)

I think I've overdone it this week.  Between matzo-palooza earlier this week and the pre-Easter See's Candy binge I went on over the weekend (there was also a salted caramel ice cream episode that I'm trying to pretend didn't happen--except it did--and it was amazing...), I'm pretty sure that my nutrition has taken a bit of a hit.

So in an effort to get myself back to my usual (and equally tasty) fare, I've decided to go with something comforting, tasty, and mostly vegetable.  The recipe for this vegetarian 'Bolognese' was actually born from the sauce used on my Italian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls.  It occurred to me that it might make an excellent Bolognese sauce on its own.

I added crumbled, Italian style seitan (wheat gluten protein) to the sauce, but you can add tofu or nothing at all (or you can add ground meat of some kind--but then it's no longer vegetarian).

This sauce is chock-full of veggies and has a rich, hearty flavor from the red wine and tamari.  It's as easy as pouring lots of things into a large pot and letting the mixture go for 20 minutes.  You're left with a hearty sauce that tastes great on pastas of all kinds!

Hearty Vegetarian 'Bolognese" Sauce
Makes 4-5 servings

1 cup of chopped onions
2 tbsp of minced garlic
1 tbsp of olive oil
1.5 cups of roughly chopped carrots
2 roughly chopped zucchini
I can of artichoke hearts in water (drained)
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup tamari or balsamic vinegar
1 can of no salt added tomato sauce
Italian seasoning/ red pepper flakes/ salt and pepper--to taste
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional)
1 cup of seitan/tofu/meat (optional)
Add the carrots, zucchini, and artichokes to the food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  In a large pot add the tbsp of olive oil and saute the garlic and onions until the onions are translucent.  Add the chopped vegetables and saute, after seasoning with salt and pepper, for a minute or two.  Add the red wine, tamari/balsamic vinegar, Italian seasoning, and protein-of-choice. Let the mixture reduce for a couple of minutes. Add the tomato sauce and optional nutritional yeast.  Test for seasonings (I usually add another layer of Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes).  Simmer on low for 20 minutes. 
Top your pasta of choice with the sauce and garnish with cheese/cheeze of choice!
Enjoy this quick Sunday meal!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Super Easy Chocolate Toffee Matzo: Reader Request!

If you got a chance to read about my super tasty Passover dinner then you know that this holiday also takes away my opportunities to eat bread... and pastries... and cookies.  And it leaves me with a tasteless, unleavened, unflavored cracker.

So what's a girl to do for dessert?  Cover said cracker in sugar, butter, and chocolate.  I've converted many a matzo skeptic with this one-- that it's at the point where it's being requested by people who don't celebrate Passover!  Who am I to deny people tasty desserts?

This recipe is easily made dairy-free by using butter-like spreads such as Earth Balance and Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate chips (though for those of you not avoiding dairy, you can add white chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and dairy butter to your heart's content).  And it's a cinch to make.  You may end up covered in chocolate.  I know, I know ... a heavy price to pay, but someone has to do it.

Chocolate Toffee Matzo

1 cup of non-dairy/dairy butter
1 cup of brown sugar
5 matzo sheets
2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips
Optional add-ons include: chopped nuts, white chocolate, flavored candy chips, sea salt, dried fruit

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  On two baking sheets, spread parchment paper to cover the bottom of the pans (I highly recommend this step-- it will make clean-up much easier).  Lay the 5 sheets of matzo on the pan (you may have to break one of them in half to get them all to fit)

Melt the butter in a stock pot and add the brown sugar to the pot.  Let the mixture boil until a buttery caramel forms.  Once the butter and sugar are mostly incorporated, spoon the mixture on top of the matzo and spread so that it covers each matzo sheet. 

Place the matzo into the oven for 10 minutes, until the butter-sugar mixture is bubbling and baked into the matzo.  Sprinkle your chocolate chips over the matzo and spread the chocolate over the matzo.  At this point, you can add your flavored candies, fruit, nuts, and sea salt.  Allow to cool and then place the baking sheets into the fridge for the chocolate to harden.

Once the chocolate hardens, break the matzo into small pieces and store in the fridge in a plastic ziplock bag. 

Try not to eat it all at once!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Italian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Passover friendly!)

Happy Passover to those celebrating and Happy Monday to everyone else!

I've always had mixed feelings about Passover.  On one hand, the story is pretty compelling: an enslaved people yearning for freedom from their captors, a guy who can talk to a bush and witnesses plagues of fire and bugs (and of course, death), and a fast-paced desert chase scene leading to a divinely inspired tsunami that vanquishes the foes and leads the enslaved people to freedom. 


On the other hand, this holiday denies me bread and replaces one of my favorite foods with a tasteless, dry cracker.

Most of the time Passover is manageable--especially if you eat meat.  You simply go low carb for a week and replace your starches with meat, chicken, or fish (observant Jews do not eat pork). 

It's a little bit more complicated if you're trying to eat a mainly plant-based diet--especially if your Jewish ancestors came from Eastern Europe (making you Ashkenazic) since you're also denied kitniyot (legumes, beans, rice, corn).  Supposedly, it's because the rabbis in Eastern Europe thought these foods were too much like leavened wheat (Holy Jewish Guilt, Batman!) and decided to abstain just in case.  It's now more of a custom than anything, but it's a pretty consistent custom (Sephardic Jews, however, DO eat kitniyot).

So there you are, the plant-based food person on Passover not eating leavened wheat ANYTHING.  Nor are you eating beans, legumes, tofu, rice, or corn.  And with your hands outstretched to the heavens like Moses,  you cry out:

"What the bleep am I supposed to eat NOW?!" 

Enter your new, favorite Passover protein: quinoa.

Quinoa (a starchy seed that originated in the Andes) packs a nutritional wallop as it contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein--the only one you can get if you're a vegetarian on Passover. Quinoa also provides the bulk and protein to this Passover friendly meal.  My guinea pig friend Justin was kind enough to taste test this with me and gave it the seal of approval. So, without further ado:


 Italian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
Serves 3-4

1 cup of chopped onions
2 tbsp of minced garlic
1 tbsp of olive oil
1.5 cups of roughly chopped carrots
2 roughly chopped zucchini
I can of artichoke hearts in water (drained)
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup tamari or balsamic vinegar
1 cup of cooked quinoa
1.5 cans of no salt added tomato sauce
Italian seasoning/ red pepper flakes/ salt and pepper--to taste
1/4  cup Vegan Parmesan or nutritional yeast (optional)
1 medium cabbage
1 cup of shredded mozzarella style cheeze (dairy cheese is also fine)
(for non-Passover occasions, ground seitan, tofu, white beans would work really well in this dish.  Meat eaters, feel free to add 1cup of ground meat)  

Preheat oven to 375

In a food processor, pulse the chopped carrots, zucchini and artichokes until fine and let sit while you work on the cabbage.  For the cabbage:  peel the leaves from the cabbage.  I find that it's best to cut against the stalk near the base of the cabbage and pull the cabbage leaf apart from there (instead of trying to disconnect the leaf from the top of the cabbage and potentially tearing the leaf.  Peel at least 8 leaves (the recipe I made included six rolls, but peel two extra leaves just in case you get a very small leaf or you need an extra as a back-up).

In a pot of boiling water, submerge the leaves two at a time for about a minute, or until slightly tender.  Then, drop the leaves in ice water (or very cold water) to stop cooking and let sit on a baking sheet.  In a large saute pan, saute the onion and garlic in the tbsp of oil until translucent. Add the vegetable mixture and saute for a couple of minutes.  Add the red wine, tamari/balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper to the mixture.  Let the mixture reduce (this is when you could add the seitan/tofu/meat).  Add half a can of tomato sauce to the stuffing mixture, as well as the Italian spices and red pepper flakes.  Let reduce.  

Add three ladles of the mixture into a stock pot and simmer with the can of tomato sauce.  Add the parm/yeast and season as needed (I like to add a little bit more Italian seasoning and pepper flakes here). Let simmer on low. 

Add the cup of cooked quinoa to the saute pan mixture and simmer until most of the excess liquid is gone.  Add 1/2 cup of cheeze/cheese.

Fill the cabbage leaves with the stuffing and wrap the leaves as you would a burrito.  Put each roll into a lightly greased casserole dish.  Top with the stockpot sauce and remaining cheeze/cheese.

Bake covered for 20 minutes and uncovered for 10 minutes.  Once baked, let sit for 10 minutes (the hardest part!)

Warning:  Your home will smell crazy delicious. It will drive you, your friends, your co-inhabitants, and your pets crazy.   Sorry--not sorry. 

Happy Eating!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Hello World! (and a nifty, little zucchini dish)

New day, new blog!

Thanks for stopping in here at Mindless Eating Interrupted. I'm excited to share interesting recipes and discuss food-related current events here.  In the meantime, I thought I'd start with an easy recipe to get things rolling....

This was a recipe that I had envisioned would work really well for a Passover dish, and seeing as it's the eve of Passover, this seemed a perfectly appropriate first post!

I have to be honest and say that I wasn't all that sure that this recipe would even work.  I had made cauliflower sauce ... and I had made avocado sauce ... but never had I combined the two together.  On zucchini "pasta."  With tomatoes. 

I stood over the food processor filled with cauliflower sauce and a beautifully ripened avocado in my hand thinking "Oh dear God, what am I about to do?"

I mustered my bravery, added the avocado to the mix, processed it, and tasted it. 

The result was a creamy, flavorful sauce.