Butternut squash ravioli

Butternut Squash Ravioli

Jon and I have been saving our yummy wine from Italy, and decided to splurge and open a bottle for dinner on Valentine’s Day. 🙂Montecucco 2009 Wine from ItalyTo go along with the wine, Jon requested homemade ravioli. I decided to make butternut squash ravioli since this dish is one of the few ways I can convince Jon that he wants to eat butternut squash. I started off by sauteing some diced shallots and onion, adding salt, pepper, and fresh sage.

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After the shallots and onion were soft and flavorful, I added frozen butternut squash. The frozen butternut squash works just as well as baking your own, especially since you don’t have to attempt to cut up the squash! Once the squash is cooked, just mash it up with a spoon, and your filling is ready to go.

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Whenever I make ravioli, I am almost always “lazy” and use wonton wrappers (or eggroll wrappers) for the dough.

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After placing the filling, I sealed the ravioli together with water and then trimmed the edges to make them look extra pretty.

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Assembled Ravioli

My herd of assembled ravioli!

I usually let the ravioli dry a little bit before cooking them to go into the pasta sauce.

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The ravioli only need to cook for a few minutes, and then they are ready for the sauce.

While the ravioli dried, I started the sauce by sautéing onion and sage in some olive oil. I had a little bit of filling left over, so that went in the pot as well.



Once the onions were soft and flavorful, I made a roux by cooking a little flour, and then adding some veggie stock, almond milk, and white wine to the pan.

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Once the sauce is thickened, the ravioli gets mixed in (gently!) and it is ready to serve. Some freshly grated pepper or nutmeg is a perfect topping.

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Butternut Squash Ravioli

4 shallots, minced

1 small onion, minced
1 onion, finely diced
20 fresh sage leaves, in a chiffonade
16 ounces butternut squash, diced (frozen works well)
1 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
24 ounces vegetable broth
6 ounces white wine
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 package wonton wrappers
4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
2 Tbsp flour
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a sautĂ© pan over medium heat. Once the oil/butter is heated, add the shallots the minced onion and a small amount of sea salt. SautĂ© the onion until it is very soft and slightly caramelized. 
Add half the sage, along with the allspice, nutmeg, and some freshly ground pepper. SautĂ© for 1-2 minutes to toast the spices, then add the butternut squash. Add a small amount of veggie broth then cover. Cook until the squash is very soft and then mash the squash with the onion/spice mixture. Taste the squash mixture, and adjust seasoning if needed. 
Remove the squash mixture to a bowl. In the same pan, start the sauce by heating the remaining vegan butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion and sautĂ© with a little salt until it is caramelized. Add the flour and sage, and cook for 1-2 minutes, then add the vegetable stock. Cover and bring to a low simmer to thicken the sauce. 
Meanwhile, start forming the ravioli. Place a wonton wrapper on a cutting board or plate, and add about 2 tsp of the squash filling into the center of the wrapper. You may need to use more or less filling depending on the size of your wrappers. Brush water on the edge of the wonton wrapper, then fold in half and pinch to seal the edge together. You can also use a ravioli cutter to help seal the edges and make the ravioli extra pretty.
Continue forming ravioli until you have used either all of the wonton wrappers or all of the filling. If you run out of wrappers before filling, you can add the extra filling to your sauce. 
By now your sauce should be thickened slightly. Add the white wine and vinegar, then cook for another minute. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. 
Cook the ravioli in well-salted boiling water in batches of 10-12. They will only take 2-3 minutes to cook, and will float to the top of the water when they are done. Gently remove the ravioli from the water and add to the pan with the sauce, stirring gently as you add each batch to keep the ravioli from sticking to each other. Serve in shallow bowls topped with freshly grated pepper and a little vegan “Parmesan” cheese (of course, you can use the real stuff if you prefer!). 
Makes 4 generous servings.

Semolina Dumplings with Stuffed Mushrooms and Arugula Salad

Continuing my love of pasta, I’ve discovered a way to make a pasta-type dish but without all the kneading, rolling, and cutting of dough. These semolina dumplings take a little while, but involve nothing more than sprinkling water over semolina flour. Plus, they are sturdy enough to stand up to a spicy tomato vodka sauce!

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I started off by placing the semolina flour in a shallow dish. Then, I just drizzle water over the flour, shake the pan, and scoop out the dumplings.

Semolina Flour

After drying slightly, the dumplings need to boil for just a few minutes, and then are ready to add to the sauce.

Semolina Dumplings

This sauce is spicy and almost a little bitter from the vodka, but it is a great combination with the chewy semolina dumplings!

Tomato Vodka Sauce

Semolina Dumplings with Tomato Vodka Sauce

3 cups semolina flour
1-2 cups of water
1 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large can of crushed tomatoes (28 ounces), preferably San Marzano
1 Tbsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup vodka
1/4 cup almond milk or vegan cream
3 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Start the sauce by heating the olive oil over medium heat in a wide sauce pan, then adding the onion and garlic to saute until lightly browned. Add the red pepper flakes and saute for another minute then add the vodka. Cook for about 3 minutes. Next add the crushed tomatoes, and cover. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the sauce for at least 20 minutes, or as long as it takes you to prepare the dumplings. Just before adding the first batch of dumplings, add the cream and adjust salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes if you’d like a spicier sauce.
  2. Put the semolina flour into a shallow dish or plate, and have the water in a glass or measuring cup.
  3. Make small wells in the semolina flour, and then dribble a small amount of water (maybe 1-2 tsp) into each well. Allow the water to sit for about 5 seconds, or until absorbed by the semolina flour.
  4. Shake the dish lightly, then scoop out the dumplings and place on a sheet pan to dry. Repeat until the semolina flour is gone.
  5. Cook the semolina dumplings in batches by gently adding them to well-salted boiling water. Stir once to make sure they aren’t sticking, and then scoop out with a pasta spoon or strainer, placing immediately into the sauce and stirring to coat the dumplings.
  6. Continue until all the dumplings are cooked, and serve with a fresh green salad.

I always feel like I should have a little extra veggies with the dumplings, so I like the combination of a nice arugula salad and stuffed mushrooms.

First, I remove the stems from the mushrooms, and place the caps in an oiled baking dish.

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The stems get minced up, and sauteed along with some minced garlic.

Mushrooms sauteing

I love fresh parsley, so I usually chop that up to add to the mushroom mixture. You could also use fresh basil, or of course dried parsley or basil.

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Next, I added some white wine, followed by some bread crumbs.

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After the breadcrumbs absorb all the liquid, the filling goes into the mushroom caps.

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The mushrooms are baked until they are browned and the stuffing is crunchy. These are perfect as an appetizer, or even an entire meal. 🙂

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For the arugula salad, I love mixing lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt, and freshly ground pepper, then tossing the simple dressing with fresh arugula (or spinach).

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Stuffed Mushrooms

8 ounces whole button mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
1 cup bread crumbs, plus extra if needed
2 Tbsp vegan Parmesan cheese (or real, if desired)
1/2 cup white wine
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Clean the mushrooms and remove the stems. Brush a baking dish with 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, then place the mushroom caps into the dish, stem side up. Mince the remaining mushroom stems.
  2. In a saute pan, heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes, being sure not to brown it too much. Add the minced mushroom stems and 1/4 tsp salt and freshly ground pepper.
  3. Saute for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is softened and fragrant. Add the parsley and cook for another minute.
  4. Next add the white wine. Bring to a light simmer, then remove from the heat.
  5. Mix in the Parmesan, if using, and about half of the bread crumbs, stirring to combine. Continue adding bread crumbs until you have a moist mixture that holds together if pressed into a ball. Taste and add salt or pepper if needed.
  6. Use a small spoon to place a scoop of the mixture into each mushroom cap, pressing as needed to hold the mixture together and in place.
  7. Cook the mushrooms for about 15 minutes, then check for browning. You want the mushroom caps to be browned and the stuffing to be crusty on top.
  8. Serve as an appetizer or with an entree as a side dish.

Simple Arugula Salad

One small container of fresh arugula
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
Coarse sea salt
Optional, 1/4 cup shredded vegan or real Parmesan cheese

Place the arugula in a large salad bowl. Sprinkle the lemon juice and olive oil over the arugula. Next, add lots of freshly ground pepper and about 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt (use less if you have a finely grained sea salt). Add the cheese if using. Toss to combine, and taste to adjust salt and pepper if needed.

This simple salad pairs perfectly with any pasta dish or vegetarian pizza. Serves 4.

Pasta with Broccoli and "Chicken"

Pasta with Broccoli and “Chicken”

This dish is an adaptation of one I remember my mom making when I was growing up that I referred to as “white chicken”. Of course I don’t eat chicken anymore, but I thought Jon’s family would enjoy it so made it for them over the holidays.

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I started off by chopping up onions and shallots, along with the stems of the broccoli.

Next, I sliced up some mushrooms, then sautéed until golden brown in about 1 Tbsp of the olive oil. Once they were cooked through, I set aside the mushrooms and their juices in a dish.

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Next, I heated up the remaining olive oil and added the onion, shallot, and broccoli stems.

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These all got sauteed until they were softened and starting to brown.

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Finally, I added the broccoli and “chicken” chunks, along with some almond milk and white wine to help make the sauce. The dish got covered so the broccoli could steam and the “chicken” could cook.

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To serve, I combined with wagon wheel pasta. I’m such a kid when it comes to pasta shapes–I love wagon wheels, stars, and any other shape that is fun to look at and eat. 🙂 Optionally, you can top the pasta with shreds of parmesan cheese.

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Pasta with Broccoli & Chicken”

1 onion, finely diced
3 large shallots, finely diced
3 heads broccoli
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1.5 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup white wine (or white cooking wine)
1 cup almond milk
6 ounces vegan “chicken” pieces
12 ounces pasta, cooked (use a fun shape with texture such as wagon wheels, shells, or penne to help catch the sauce)
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Remove the stems from the broccoli heads. Remove the tough outer stem, and chop into small pieces. Chop the broccoli florets into small bite size pieces.
  2. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat in a wide skillet. Saute the onions and the broccoli stems with about 1/2 tsp salt until both are softened and slightly browned.
  3. Add the flour and cook for a few minutes to remove the raw flour flavor. Next, add the white wine and almond milk. Bring to a light simmer and cook the sauce until it is slightly thickened. Add the “chicken” and simmer in the sauce for a few minutes.
  4. Add the broccoli florets to the sauce, stir to combine, and then cover. Reduce the heat to medium low. After about 7 minutes, check the broccoli florets for doneness. Ideally, the broccoli is cooked through but still slightly crisp and bright green.
  5. Taste the sauce and adjust salt and pepper, then stir in the pasta to coat well with the sauce. Serve topped with freshly ground pepper, and cheese if desired.

Butternut Squash Ravioli

This ravioli is one of the few ways that Jon actually asks for butternut squash. He will eat it in other formats, but wrap it up in pasta dough and serve in a creamy sauce and he gobbles it up!

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As with almost all my dishes, I started off by dicing up onions, and sautéing them in olive oil. This dish also uses lots of fresh sage, with about half going into the ravioli filling, and the rest going into the sauce.

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Once the onions were softened and the sage had released lots of flavor, I added the butternut squash. If you were feeling very ambitious you could dice up a fresh squash, but this is one of those times when using frozen is actually better (and easier)!

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Once the squash is cooked and flavored with turmeric, a little cayenne, and other great flavorings, it is ready to be made into ravioli.

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The ravioli are very easy to make, if a bit time consuming. It is a little easier if you make an assembly line with several wonton wrappers laid out at once to be filled and formed.

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The filling is just about the perfect amount to use one packet of wonton wrappers, resulting in a very-satisfying fleet of ravioli.

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The sauce was simmering away while I formed all the ravioli, so it was all ready for them as they came out of the cooking water.

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The ravioli cook in batches in just a few minutes, and float to the top of the water once they are ready.

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After all the ravioli was cooked and had simmered in the sauce for a minute, it was ready for serving. The ravioli is perfect topped with freshly ground pepper and a little vegan Parmesan cheese. Yum!

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Butternut Squash Ravioli

1 onion, finely diced
20 sage leaves, in a chiffonade
16 ounces butternut squash, diced (frozen works well)
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
24 ounces vegetable broth
6 ounces white wine
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 package wonton wrappers
3 Tbsp vegan butter, divided
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
2 Tbsp flour
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Heat 1 Tbsp of the vegan butter and 1 Tbsp olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Once the oil/butter is heated, add the minced onion and a small amount of sea salt. Sauté the onion until it is very soft and slightly caramelized. 

Add half the sage, along with the turmeric, allspice, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper and some freshly ground pepper. Sauté for 1-2 minutes to toast the spices, then add the butternut squash. Add a small amount of water, then cover. Cook until the squash is very soft and then mash the squash with the onion/spice mixture. Taste the squash mixture, and adjust seasoning if needed. 

Remove the squash mixture to a bowl. In the same pan, start the sauce by heating the remaining vegan butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion and sauté with a little salt until it is caramelized. Add the flour and sage, and cook for 1-2 minutes, then add the vegetable stock. Cover and bring to a low simmer to thicken the sauce. 

Meanwhile, start forming the ravioli. Place a wonton wrapper on a cutting board or plate, and add about 2 tsp of the squash filling into the center of the wrapper. You may need to use more or less filling depending on the size of your wrappers. Brush water on the edge of the wonton wrapper, then fold in half and pinch to seal the edge together. Continue forming ravioli until you have used either all of the wonton wrappers or all of the filling. If you run out of wrappers before filling, you can add the extra filling to your sauce.

By now your sauce should be thickened slightly. Add the white wine and vinegar, then cook for another minute. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. 

Cook the ravioli in well-salted boiling water in batches of 10-12. They will only take 2-3 minutes to cook, and will float to the top of the water when they are done. Gently remove the ravioli from the water and add to the pan with the sauce, stirring gently as you add each batch to keep the ravioli from sticking to each other. Serve in shallow bowls topped with freshly grated pepper and a little vegan “Parmesan” cheese (of course, you can use the real stuff if you prefer!). 

Makes 4-6 servings.
Recipe created by Jennifer

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Mediterranean Pasta

One of the ways I commonly cook is to make what Jon calls “pasta concoctions”. Sometimes these turn out really well and end up on the menu, and other times…

A more successful pasta concoction is what we call Mediterranean Pasta, which is basically a tomato sauce with olives, artichoke hearts, and lots of other yummy vegetables.

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Although there are a fair number of ingredients in this recipe, it is quite easy to make. I started off by sautéing most of the veggies along with turmeric and tomato paste until everything is slightly softened and flavorful.

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While the veggies are cooking, I chopped up the artichoke hearts and cut the olives in half.

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I then finished adding the other ingredients to the sauce, including vegetable broth, tomatoes, and red wine vinegar. After everything was combined, I covered the sauce to simmer for a few minutes.

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This sauce tastes fairly rich because of the olives, so I like to serve it with a simple salad.

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By the time the pasta is done cooking, the sauce has simmered long enough to thicken slightly and meld all the flavors together. I used rigatoni, but you could use any larger pasta shape such as penne or rotini. I love pictures of pasta. 🙂

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Next I mixed all the pasta into the sauce, hoping my pan was large enough to hold it all! Make sure to save a little bit of the pasta cooking water to add to the sauce.

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Finally, I dished the pasta into bowls and topped with a few red pepper flakes.

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Mediterranean Pasta

1 lb Rigatoni, cooked al dente
1 onion, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, miced
1 red pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
8-12 ounces pitted olives (Greek mix, kalamata, or similar), sliced in half
4 artichoke hearts, quartered
10 peppadew peppers, finely diced
5-6 sundried tomatoes, thinly sliced (I prefer the vacuum packed ones rather than the ones packed in oil)
1 cup vegetable stock
1 large can (28 ounces) crushed or diced tomatoes
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp red pepper flakes plus more to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the water for your pasta.

In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until softened, then add the garlic and sauté for about 2 minutes, or until softened. Do not allow the garlic to brown. 

Add the diced peppers and peppadew peppers, and sauté for a few minutes, flavoring with salt and freshly ground pepper. After the peppers are slightly softened, add the turmeric and tomato paste. Sauté for a few minutes to release the flavors of the turmeric.

Next, add the veggie stock and red wine vinegar. After the sauce is simmering, add the sliced sun dried tomatoes and cook until softened. 

Stir in the diced or crushed tomatoes, olives, artichoke hearts, red pepper flakes, and more salt and pepper if needed. Cover and reduce heat to medium. The pasta water should be boiling by now. Salt the water well, and cook the rigatoni until al dente. It will cook for a minute in the sauce, so you don’t want to overlook the pasta in the water.

Allow the sauce to simmer while the pasta is cooking. When the pasta is done, taste the sauce to adjust seasoning, then add the drained pasta along with about 3 Tbsp of the pasta cooking water. Stir to combine, and allow the pasta to cook in the sauce for another minute or two. 

Serve in pasta bowls topped with additional red pepper flakes, if desired. If you aren’t eating vegan, it would also be really good topped with a little bit of crumbled feta or tangy goat cheese. Since the sauce is rich, it is nice to have a simple salad on the side.

Serves 6-8.

Cooking Class in Tuscany

After spending another day in Rome and doing some additional sight-seeing, including visiting the Colosseum and Imperial Forum, it was off to Tuscany to meet up with my family.
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We had a fun dinner the first night prepared by Gina Stipo, our culinary host for the week, that included salad with fennel fronds, farro, yummy cheese, and of course wine. The next morning after admiring the beautiful views from the villa, it was off to our Ecco La Cucina cooking class!

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The menu was truly a feast, including cheese soufflé on a pear salad, freshly made pasta with artichokes, roasted rabbit, asparagus, and biscotti. Yum!

We started off by preparing the rabbit, which was roasted with oil-cured olives, chunks of orange, sage, rosemary, and white wine. Getting it ready for roasting was as easy as putting the rabbit in a roasting pan, burying all the flavorings under it, pouring white wine over it all, and then sticking it in the oven. I think there might have been some liberal doses of olive oil, as well.

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Like any good meal, this one started by making dessert early on. Gina had us prepare two flavors of biscotti: orange almond, and orange anise seed. I’ve made orange almond before, but the orange anise seed was amazing– of course, I am quite fond of licorice-flavored food!

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We also added sugar, orange zest, baking powder (which is vanilla-scented in Tuscany!), and almonds for the first batch. The second batch used the same ingredients, except we swapped out anise seeds for the almonds.

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Once the dough was formed, most of us got a chance to roll out a log of biscotti. The biscotti then went into the oven for the first baking.

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Next, we processed all of the artichokes for the pasta sauce – no canned artichokes here! Before this, the only artichokes I had ever tried to prepare were to be steamed and the leaves eaten with butter. It was surprisingly easy to peel off the tough outer leaves, clean the inside, and quarter the hearts for the sauce. Of course, it might have been slightly easier with Gina demonstrating the proper technique and results!

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One of the really fun things about the class was how Gina got everyone involved in the preparation, not just the practiced cooks. Jon even proved his fitness as a sous chef with his expert garlic chopping. 🙂

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After the artichokes were prepared and the garlic was chopped, we started a simple sauce for the pasta with butter, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and the artichoke hearts. Mom was the expert lemon squeezer.

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Next it was on to the really fun part of the class–making homemade pasta to go with the artichoke sauce! We mixed together flour and eggs, eventually forming a dough. Gina showed us how to make a well in the flour and use our fingers to start the dough.

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After everyone took turns kneading the pasta dough, it was time to roll it out. I have a pasta roller attachment for my Kitchenaid mixer, and always thought using a hand roller would be really difficult and require you to grow an extra limb to manage it and the pasta. That was not the case, though it helped that there were lots of people to maneuver the dough once it got really long.

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Once the dough was rolled out to the right thickness, it was on to the chitarra to cut the spaghetti. This part was really fun: you sprinkled semolina onto the chitarra, placed a piece of dough on it, and then used a rolling pin to cut the noodles using the wires of the chitarra. In a lot of ways, this part was easier than using my pasta attachments. The spaghetti just falls neatly under the wires, so you don’t have to worry about catching all the pieces (and stepping on the pieces that inevitably fall on the floor).

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Pretty little piles of spaghetti!
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Earlier in the class we had prepared cheese flans to go on top of a pear salad. While the pasta was being cut, the flans came out of the oven and were placed on the salad for a delicious starter.

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We headed out to a beautiful covered terrace to start our meal with the cheese flans.

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After whetting our appetites, it was back to the kitchen to finish the pasta. Once the pasta was cooked it went into the pan with the artichoke sauce and a little of the cooking water to thicken the sauce.

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A little cheese was mixed in, then it was back to the terrace to eat pasta. Yeah!

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While we were enjoying the pasta, the rabbit miraculously made its way to the table along with some asparagus. Even though none of the rabbit made it to my plate, it looked delicious!

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After all this food, it was hard to imagine there was still dessert. The biscotti was “well-guarded” (and maybe adequately sampled!) so there was plenty left for us to enjoy.

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The biscotti was served with Vin Santo and fresh strawberries. It was a perfect end to the meal and a fun and informative cooking class!

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Stay tuned for more posts from our Italian adventure! 🙂

Trastevere food tour

I was lucky enough to get to go on a trip to Italy recently, and the best description is Wow! When friends have asked what was my favorite part, I literally can’t answer the question. As you can imagine, food was a major component of the trip, highlighted by a “culinary adventure” in Tuscany. So, Italian food and all things Italy will be occupying my blog for the next several weeks!

Jon and I started off in Rome, and what better way to get ourselves oriented than to take a walking food tour. After suspending our veganness for the trip, we signed up for Twilight Trastevere through Eating Italy food tours and it was a great way to kick off the trip!

After landing in Rome that morning, walking several miles, and eating lightly, we were ready for our food tour. We decided to walk to the Tiber Island to meet up with our tour, walking past the Imperial Forum on the way. After meeting up with the group and getting a little background on Trastevere, we were off to Da Enzo Al 29, where we had prosecco accompanied by stracciatella and melon (and prosciutto for the meat eaters). The cheese was drizzled with olive oil, and some of the best cheese either of us have ever tasted. 20130609-203715.jpg

After savoring this decadence, we were off to the next stop – Spirito di Vino – a restaurant/wine cellar in a building that was the oldest synagogue still standing…obviously it was no longer in that function! We sampled some amazing red wine, along with some more cheese dishes. Would you believe that this shot is ~20 feet below current street level, but was street level 2000 years ago?!? Amazing. 20130609-204831.jpg

Next we were on to Innocenti, an absolutely amazing bakery – Yelp and Tripadvisor agree!20130609-205524.jpg

After ogling the cookie display from the window and admiring the ancient industrial oven…
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Next up was Antica Caciara where we sampled some amazing cheese. I also ogled some cheese to take home, but decided against it.
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Massive wheels of Pecorino Romano…they would fit nicely in my luggage!20130609-212244.jpg

Next we were off to La Renella. First we got to observe the amazing kitchen and bread oven.20130609-212657.jpg

The bread ovens were huge! They seriously went back at least 10 loaves of bread, and required massive bread paddles with long handles to pull freshly-baked bread out of the oven.20130609-212901.jpg

After seeing the kitchen, we got to sample some of the amazing pizza. As a former cheese addict, I always thought pizza had to have lots of cheese on it. This pizza, however, was a revelation. With a simple crust and excellent tomato sauce, both Jon and I thought it was some of the best pizza we have ever had.20130609-214532.jpg

You’d think we would be done at this point? So did we, but we were not. We went to Ristorante La Scala for some amazing pasta – Ravioli and mushroom fettuccine alfredo.
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Before our last food stop of the evening, we went to Farmacia Maria Della Scala. Closed in the 1960’s, this was an amazing glimpse into the past. We sniffed viper paste (literally made up of ground vipers and 40+ other ingredients), admired the old ingredients, and peered at the paintings of famous historical patrons. We weren’t able to take photos inside the Farmacia, so I can only share the exterior sign. It is most definitely worth a visit, if you happen to be wandering around in Trastevere.

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Finally, we wrapped up the tour with an amazing gelateria. Jon made better flavor choices than I did, but it was very interesting to learn the identifying characteristics of “real” gelato: the pistachio should be earthy green, not bright green; the mint should be white-ish and not bright green; and gelato that is mounded up way over the containers is not heavy enough to be real. This education probably saved us a few gelato calories in our wanderings through Italy!

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After the tour was wrapped up, Jon and I decided to walk back to our hostel. Although we walk all the time at night at home, we definitely don’t wander past 2000 year old ruins illuminated by moonlight!

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