February 05, 2007

Fridge free for all

Sometimes, yes, it happens. I was tired. I was planning on making Deborah Madison's Lasagne with Chard, Ricotta, and Walnuts from her book Local Flavors. But I didn't have a chance to make it to the farmer's market and the grocery store I was at didn't have chard or lasagne. So I improvised. And you know? It turned out pretty good. Not bad for a Sunday night dinner.

But, I have another confession. One that discriminating palates might shudder in horror at. So we all know that tomatoes are only good in the heat of the August and September sun and the grocery store tomatoes are tasteless and bland. But I couldn't resist. I had to buy that pack of golden red cherry tomatoes waiting on the shelf. Perhaps it was the winter months getting to me, perhaps I was a bit tired. But I broke down and bought a pint. And they weren't bad. Not the best I have had by any stretch of the imagination, but not the worst either.

Since I couldn't get all of the ingredients, I improvised a bit, raided my fridge and came up with good alternatives involving pappardelle pasta, the aforementioned tomatoes, button mushrooms, and hazelnuts.

(click to enlarge)

Pappardelle with Mushrooms, Cherry Tomatoes, and Hazelnuts
(a lasagne if you will)
Serves 4-6
Adapted from the wonderful Deborah Madison

-Hazelnuts, 1 cup
-Sea salt
-Pepper--freshly ground is always best!
-Olive oil
-Garlic cloves, 3 large
-White wine, 1/3 Cup
-Whole-milk ricotta, 1 Cup
-Parmesan, 1 Cup freshly grated
-Mozzarella, 2 - 4oz balls of fresh, coarsely grated
-Milk, 1 Cup
-Pappardelle, 8 oz package
-Mushrooms, 8 buttons
-Cherry tomatoes, 10

1) Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
2) Toast hazelnuts in a skillet until fragrant, remove from heat. Chop and set aside.
3) Heat olive oil in the skillet used for hazelnuts over medium heat. When hot, add mushrooms, tomatoes, and garlic and cook for about one minute until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add the wine and cook the wine down by half. Take off of the heat.
4) Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat.
5)Meanwhile, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, half of the mozzarella, and the remaining garlic in a medium-sized bowl. Add sea salt and pepper to taste.
6) Oil a medium to large baking dish. Add 1/4 cup of milk to the dish and set aside.
7) When the water is boiling drop in a handful, perhaps 8 pappardelle. Let boil for 4 minutes. Remove. Place the pieces of pasta on the bottom of the baking sheet. Spread cheese mixture on top of pasta. Add a handful of vegetables and hazelnuts. Add a bit of milk to the dish. Repeat this process until you have used up all of your ingredients and have layers of pasta, cheese, veggies, nuts, and enough milk to keep the dish moist. On the final layer add the remaining pasta, mozzarella and a handful of hazelnuts.
8) Place tooth picks in each corner of the dish and cover with foil.
9) Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, remove the foil and bake for 10 more minutes to create a golden brown top. Take out of the oven and let it sit for about 10 minutes to cool.
10) Serve and enjoy!


Anonymous said...

YUM! I can't wait to try! Did you make your own pasta? How did you keep the dish from getting too dry?

Anonymous said...

Do you have a newsletter? If so, how do I subscribe?

Bekah said...

I would have loved to make my own pasta it tastes so good made from scratch! But I don't have a pasta machine nor the patience to roll out pasta by hand. I keep eying the pasta machines at the store though....

The dish stays moist with the milk and ricotta. I used whole-milk ricotta and fat-free milk (what I had in the fridge) but I bet it would have tasted better with whole milk.

And, no, I decided not to do the newsletter. I just don't seem to have the time!

thanks for the comments!


Anonymous said...

I especially like that the list of ingredients for the lasagna; that will be helpful when evaluating what is really in my pantry and frig! I love this kind of winter dish & am excited to try it!!
Love, Your Nana.

Bekah said...

Thanks! I am trying to decide which layout I like better for the ingredient list.

Anonymous said...

I notice that you use sea salt in this recipe. What is the difference in sea salt and the "round blue" container of salt? Does the kind of salt really make any difference?