Category Archives: Pasta

More than Microwaving – Thanksgiving Ravioli

My mother-in-law always hosts Thanksgiving on the years we are home.  But, I’m picky, so I cook basically an entire second meal just for my family.  This always translates into TONS of leftovers.  Usually, I eat on them for a couple of days and then make a soup, but this year, I was hoping for something different.  Someone I know shared a video showing how to make egg rolls filled with Thanksgiving leftovers served with a cranberry dipping sauce – and that got me thinking.  I only had wonton wrappers, and I wasn’t looking forward to going to the store or messing up my kitchen frying up a bunch of egg rolls.  But, putting that stuff together inside wonton sheets.  Genius.  Seriously.  And thus, this recipe was born.

Lay out a wonton wrapper and put about a teaspoon of leftover sweet potatoes right in the center.

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I also happened to have some leftover roasted butternut squash with dried cranberries and pecans.  If you don’t, you can add more sweet potatoes, or mashed potatoes, or stuffing, or cranberry sauce, or whatever you’ve got on hand.

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Top all of that with about a tablespoon of finely diced leftover turkey.  Mine is white meat.  I sent the dark meat with my husband since he went back out on the truck yesterday.

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Generously wet the edges of the wonton wrapper and top with a second wrapper.  Seal the edges well, pressing out as much air as possible.  I find this is easiest if I seal a small area while it is laying down and then pick it up to finish.

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Be sure you keep the finished ones covered while you work so they don’t dry out. When you finish assembling the ravioli, put a pot of water on to boil.  Then, melt a half a stick of salted butter over low heat.  It will foam a little, and that’s ok. Keep the butter over low heat until it turns beautiful golden brown.12325328_10153688432735853_1739943152_n

At this point, I added 1/4 teaspoon dried sage. Fresh would have been better, but I still wasn’t excited about going to the store.  Boil your ravioli for 2-3 minutes and then toss in the warm, brown butter.  Serve up 3 or 4 per person and dig in!

 

Recipe

24 round wonton skins

1/4 cup mashed sweet potatoes

1/4 cup other Thanksgiving leftovers

3/4 cup finely diced, cooked turkey

1/4 cup salted butter

1/4 teaspoon dried sage

Lay a single wonton wrapper on flat surface. Add 1 teaspoon mashed sweet potatoes to center of wrapper.  Top sweet potatoes with 1 teaspoon of other leftovers and 1 Tablespoon of diced turkey.  Wet edges of wonton wrapper well.  Top with a second wrapper being sure to seal the edges well and press out as much air as possible.  Cover finished ravioli and set aside.

Repeat until you are out of wonton wrappers.

Bring a pot of water to a boil.

While water is boiling, melt 1/4 cup butter over low heat.  Cook over low heat until golden brown.  Add 1/4 teaspoon dried sage.  Set aside.

Salt boiling water and boil ravioli for 2-3 minutes, being careful not to over crowd the pan or puncture the ravioli.  Remove ravioli from boiling water, drain well and toss in brown butter.  Enjoy!

More Than Microwaving – Spaghetti Lasagna

It doesn’t matter how carefully I plan, it seems I always have leftover spaghetti. I don’t really like to reheat and eat spaghetti. It just loses something. The noodles get too soggy or they get completely dried out. It’s just never a happy thing for me. But, if you layer those noodles and sauce with some ricotta and mozzarella and bake it, you have all the deliciousness of lasagna, with the ease and resourcefulness of leftovers! 

First, stir together ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses with a little black pepper and Italian seasoning. Then, lay your leftover spaghetti noodles evenly in the bottom of your pan. Top the noodles with the cheese mixture. Top that with your leftover sauce. Sprinkle with a little extra cheese. Bake until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly. I served mine on top of a couple crisp leaves of romaine lettuce. 

  
Recipe:

1 16 ounce container ricotta cheese

1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning 

2-3 cups leftover cooked spaghetti noodles

2-3 cups leftover spaghetti sauce

Preheat oven to 350*. 

Stir together ricotta cheese, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, black pepper and Italian seasoning. 

Layer cooked spaghetti noodles evenly in the bottom of a small baking pan (I used a 9″ round cake pan). Spread cheese mixture evenly over noodles. Top with leftover spaghetti sauce. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese. 

Bake at 350* for 20-25 minutes, or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly. 

Tortellini with Pumpkin, Bacon and Brussels Sprouts

If you think you don’t like Brussels sprouts, it’s because you’ve never had them with bacon.  Seriously, they’re crunchy and slightly sweet.  Don’t toss this recipe just because you think you can’t stomach the Brussels sprouts.  Even if you still don’t like them, they’re big enough to pick around and you can make it without them the next time.  Since we don’t eat pasta very often anymore, I want the pasta we do eat to be packed with flavor.  This is hearty and sweet and crunchy and creamy and, honestly, just delicious.  I use fresh roasted pumpkin, but you could use any winter squash.  You could even used frozen butternut squash.  Canned pumpkin would give you the same flavor profile, but it will change the texture a bit.

Start by roasting the pumpkin.  Halve it.  Scoop out the seeds.  Rub it with oil.  Place it cut side down on a cookie sheet and bake at 350* for 45 minutes or an hour until it is just tender. Let it cool and then score the flesh with a knife without removing the peel (much like you’d do with an avocado).  You’ll need 2 cups of these cubes for this recipe.  Save the rest for pie or use it to make some pumpkin pops.

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Cook fresh or frozen tortellini according to package directions.  Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water. While the tortellini is cooking, dice up the bacon and crisp it up in a pan.  Add halved Brussels sprouts and grated garlic just as the bacon starts to get crispy.  Cook for 2-3 minutes and add pasta water.  Be careful that you don’t let the garlic burn.

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Stir the Brussels sprouts and bacon and diced pumpkin into the tortellini.  Your pumpkin will probably break down some and that is just fine.  Serve with crusty bread (like my whole wheat French bread or my honey cracked black pepper French bread).

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Recipe:

20 ounce package cheese tortellini

1/2 pound bacon, diced

2 cups halved Brussels sprouts

2 cloves garlic, grated

1/2 cup reserved pasta water

2 cups cubed roasted pumpkin

Cook tortellini according to package directions.  Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking water.

Dice bacon and cook in skillet until almost crispy.  Add Brussels sprouts and garlic.  Sautee 2-3 minutes or until garlic starts to brown.  Add pasta water and simmer for 1-2 minutes.

Stir Brussels sprout mixture and cubed pumpkin into cooked tortellini.  Serve with crusty bread.

Lasagna

My kids love to help in the kitchen.  Laying noodles and spreading cheese and sauce layers are the perfect ways for them to help me make lasagna.  And, since they get to help so much, they always seem to eat more.  In fact, my daughter asked me to pack lasagna in her lunch 3 days in a row after we made it  for dinner.  I take a little help by using jarred sauce.  Also, I don’t pre-cook my noodles (and I don’t buy those “special” no-cook noodles either).

I start by browning hamburger and Italian sausage together.  Make sure you crumble it pretty fine as it is cooking so you don’t get big chunks of meat in your lasagna (unless you like big chunks, then, go for it).

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Drain off any extra fat and add sauce to meat in pan.  Use 3/4 cup of water to rinse out your jar and add it to the pan too.  This extra water will help your noodles soften up in the pan.  Then I mix up my ricotta cheese and mozzarella cheese with an egg and some seasoning.  The egg helps your cheese layer stay put instead of squishing everywhere when you try to eat it. And I use part-skim ricotta.  I’ve tried the regular.  The part-skim seems to give a creamier texture – less grainy than the regular.  Maybe it’s just me.

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Next, spread a very thin layer of sauce on the bottom of your baking dish to keep the pasta from sticking.

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I build three sets of layers – noodles, cheese, sauce.  Then, top the whole thing with some more mozzarella cheese.

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Put the whole pan in a preheated oven and bake it for about thirty minutes – until the cheese is melted and golden and the edges are bubbling.

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Let this stand for at least 10 minutes before you try to serve it.  If you don’t, you’re going to burn yourself and your layers are going to fall apart.  If you wait, you’ll be able to serve beautiful slices of deliciousness.

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Recipe:

1 pound hamburger

1/2 pound Italian sausage

24 ounce jar of prepared pasta sauce

3/4 cup water

15 ounce container part skim ricotta cheese

3 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese (divided)

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/4 teaspoon dried basil

12-15 dry lasagna noodles (depending on your baking dish)

Preheat oven to 350*.

Brown hamburger and Italian sausage in skillet together.  Drain.  Return to pan and add pasta sauce.  Pour 3/4 cup water into empty jar.  Swirl jar to rinse down all the extra sauce and add water to pan.  Leave sauce simmering on stove.

Add ricotta, 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, egg, pepper, Italian seasoning and basil to a bowl.  Stir to mix thoroughly.

Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of your baking dish. Cover with 4-5 dry noodles, depending on the size of your baking dish.  Top dry noodles with 1/3 of cheese mixture. Spread to distribute evenly.  Top with 1/3 of your sauce and spread to distribute evenly.  Repeat the layering process 2 more times.  Top with remaining 2 cups mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 350* for 30 minutes.  Cheese will be melted and golden and sauce will be bubbling at the edges.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.