Portland Press Herald Article

In case you missed it on Facebook, here’s the link to our most recent press about the Sugar & Salt books.  Peggy Grodinsky is the acclaimed food editor of the Portland Press Herald and was actually my editor for a couple of years until I stopped doing the food column for that paper.  It was interesting to talk with her in this interview, as while we worked together for several years, we inherited each other and never actually met face to face.  Most of our conversations were via email based exclusively on the text and content of my columns.  To have our awareness of each other expand into our larger life realms was fun.

The piece is in the Chop Chop segment and features my recipes for Blizzard Carbonara and Beet, Pear, and Cranberry Salad with Shaved Asiago.

Photo by Elizabeth Poisson

 

Ricotta and Caramelized Onion Stuffed Shells

These babies are not the insipid things that used to pass as your school lunch.  These guys are fun, delightful, and full of yum.  The kale adds a grownup kick and the fresh mozzarella is also a nice bump in flavor.

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Ricotta and Caramelized Onion Stuffed Shells
You will have extra sauce from this recipe, but that is never a problem in our household. Simply freeze what you don’t use for another time.

Homemade Tomato Sauce
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup minced onion; about 1 small onion
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic; about 4 cloves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
several grinds of fresh black pepper
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

Filling and Shells
6 ounces jumbo pasta shells
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cups diced onions; about 1 large onion
1 teaspoon kosher salt (for the kale)
8 ounces kale, chopped; about 8 cups lightly packed
16 ounces ricotta cheese; 2 cups
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese; about 1 cup lightly packed
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (for the filling)
several grinds of fresh black pepper
2 large eggs
6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

Tomato Sauce
Heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and then the onions. Sauté the onions for 7 to 10 minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper and sauté for another 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer for about 20 minutes.

Makes 3 to 4 cups

Filling and Shells
Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta shells, stirring often when they first go into the pot. Cook until al dente, drain, and then rinse with cold water.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, onions, and salt and sauté for 7 to 10 minutes or until translucent and beginning to brown. Reduce heat to medium-low and sauté for another 5 to 10 minutes or until the onions are very soft and caramelized. Remove 1/2 cup to a medium bowl (that will receive the ricotta filling). Add the kale to the skillet and cook until wilted but still bright green. Transfer to a 9- x 13-inch casserole dish.

Combine the rest of the filling ingredients, except the eggs and mozzarella, with the onions in a medium bowl. Before adding the eggs, taste for salt. I typically don’t feel any is needed due to the bread crumbs and cheese, but it’s good to double-check.

Scoop soup-spoon portions of filling and press into the shells. Try not to overstuff so that you have enough stuffing at the end. Place the shells onto the kale and cover with 2 cups of tomato sauce. Lay slices of mozzarella over the sauce. Bake for 45 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly on the sides and the filling is cooked through.

Serves 4 to 6

Russian Penne

When I made this recipe this week, I wouldn’t tell anyone what was in it until they tried it.  Then I shared.  Knowing that the combination of ingredients don’t sound good unless you are a desperate vegetarian or have a bumper cabbage crop.  Turns out, the combination hits you just right when you want a cosy pasta dish filled with gooey cheese and healthy veggies.

This is a recipe that harks back to a time when Jon and I were vegetarians and ate more cheese than two people should ever consume in one year.  We wanted to see if we felt healthier by a change our eating habits.  And while it’s true, we did eat more vegetables, we also ate a ri-di-cu-lous amount of cheese.  No surprise that we didn’t feel much different at the end of our vegetarian year.  The reason for so much cheese? – we were looking for the big boosts of flavor that meat can bring to food and cheese was the solution for us.  Of course now, there are all sorts of great vegetarian cookbooks that would help us build flavor in our food without adding so much dairy.   Turns out we couldn’t wait that long and only lasted a year before we succumbed to burgers and bacon.  Molly Katzen’s cookbook, Moosewood Cookbook, was one of the few highlights of that year and I still use the dog eared, grease-stained copy.

Russian Penne
Adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook by Molly Katzen

1 1/2 cups sour cream
2 cups cottage cheese
1 cup grated cheddar
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 diced scallions
1 diceded green pepper
2 cups shredded cabbage
1/2 pounds sliced mushrooms
1 shredded carrot
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 cups uncooked penne
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
several grinds of fresh black pepper

Cook the penne in salted boiling water until just underdone.  Drain and reserve.  Over medium-high heat, melt the butter and saute the cabbage, green pepper, mushroom and carrot.  Combine everything in the pasta pot or large bowl.

Bake in a buttered 9×13 pan, covered, at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Serves 6-8

Annie
I dare you to try it!

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