Premeditated Pasta

Ravioli with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

The other day I was craving ravioli.  Toothy, substantial ravioli.

Out came the rolling pin, flour, olive oil, eggs, and salt.  The camera?  I glanced at it from across the kitchen counter but didn’t feel compelled to record a step-by-step.  When my hands are communing with the most basic of ingredients, it borders on spiritual.  (And if you hadn’t already gathered, my lil’ ol’ blog ain’t Martha Stewart, but I’ll give you some good ideas.)

Earlier, I roasted a small stash of veggies.  When I pulled them from the oven, their heat-altered beauty was breathtaking.  Garlic glowing like topaz.  Cherry tomatoes with garden-fresh goodness in every wrinkle.  Mushrooms in hues echoing their earthy origins.

Out came a Chianti bottle and a rustic-looking bowl.

(That’s about as Italian as my props get.)

As I snapped away, a rapturous aroma propelled my menu “plan” in ten different directions.  To chop or not to chop?  (Apologies to Shakespeare…)  Tomato sauce or filling?  Garlic-y Alfredo sauce?  Mushroom and tomato sauce?

The plus side of photographing dinner-in-progress is that it generates more ideas, which intoxicate me as much as aromas.

Maybe even more.

Ravioli art

Pasta Its Whats For Dinner

Once everything cooled down (including my inflammatory food imagination), I opted to make the filling out of freshly-made ricotta (another near-spiritual experience without photographic evidence), basil, oregano, half the garlic, an egg, a good amount of grated Parmesan, and one mushroom slice per pasta packet.

By the way, ravioli “rectangles” taste just as good as square ones.

As for the cherry tomatoes, I tossed ’em on top.  (Cherry tomatoes — self-explanatory.)  After a drizzle of olive oil, some additional Parmesan, and a grind of the peppermill, dinner was served.

Well… photographed (quickly) and served.

I don’t mind taking pictures as long as dinner’s still hot when I eat it.

Has food photography changed the way you cook — or eat?

Enjoying premeditated pasta,

~ Kimby

The Heart of the Matter (Roasted Artichoke Heart, Red Bell Pepper, & Caper Salad)

Roasted Artichoke Heart Salad

I did something just now that I haven’t done in a long time.  I scrolled through six months’ worth of my posts and read what I wrote.

“Holy cow!  I’m all over the map!” I declared in my pre-dawn stupor.

Then I laughed. :)

Have you read what you’ve written lately?  (You should.)

And while you’re at it, pat yourself on the back.

The heart of the matter is:  You’re expressing yourself to the world!

That’s something to be proud of.  (I am.)

Life is a tasty hodgepodge, just like this salad…

A Tasty Hodgepodge

Roasted Artichoke Heart, Red Bell Pepper, & Caper Salad

(adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe on Food Network)

1 can of artichoke hearts, drained

A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt & freshly ground pepper

1/2 jar of roasted red bell peppers, drained & diced

2 Tbsp. capers, drained

Basil Vinaigrette (recipe to follow)

Preheat oven to 425° F.

Pat artichoke hearts dry; drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper.  Toss gently; transfer to a baking sheet.

Roast until browned, 25 to 30 minutes, turning once.  (I added the drained peppers at the 20 minute mark to heat them.)

Meanwhile, make vinaigrette.

Basil Vinaigrette

1 Tbsp. thinly sliced green onion

1 Tbsp. dried basil (I’m sure fresh would be stellar)

A squeeze of fresh lemon juice

1 Tbsp. tarragon vinegar

Dijon mustard, to taste

1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

Combine dressing ingredients in a measuring cup.  Whisk until incorporated; set aside.

Remove artichoke hearts and peppers from oven.  Drizzle with Basil Vinaigrette to allow them to soak up the flavor as they cool.

Transfer roasted veggies to a bowl.  Add capers and additional vinaigrette to taste; toss gently.

Serve warm with crusty bread and a glass of Chardonnay.

When Life Tosses You Crumbs, Eat Them!

No matter how “un-related” your posts (or mine) may (or may not) be, the important thing is: you’re expressing your heart!

The world’s a better place for it and I thank you for blessing my life with your presence.

Enjoying random thoughts and recipes,

~ Kimby

Roasted Veggie, Sausage, and Meatball Cassoulet

Cassoulet:  A rich, slow-cooked casserole originating in the south of France.  Ahhh, what could be better on a cool weeknight than a one-dish meal?

Except one that started out as this…

And this…

And finally this?

Sometimes I just can’t make up my mind! :)

Roasted Veggie, Sausage, and Meatball Cassoulet

1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets

1 head of broccoli, broken into florets

1 red bell pepper, seeded & cut into chunks

2 to 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided

Sea salt & freshly ground pepper

Italian Meatballs (use your basic meatball recipe; add Italian seasoning, oregano, & lotsa garlic)

2 Tbsp. butter, divided

8 oz. whole mushrooms, quartered

8 oz. Italian sausage (in the casing), cut on the diagonal (I used “hot” sausage, my preference)

2 Tbsp. butter, divided

1/2 c. white wine

1/2 c. chicken stock

1 bay leaf

1 Tbsp. flour

Preheat oven to 425° F.

Place vegetables in a large bowl.  (Reserve broccoli & cauliflower stems for soup — blatant hint re: forthcoming post.)

Drizzle veggies with 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper; toss to coat.

Transfer to a large baking sheet; leave about 1/4 of the sheet free for the meatballs.

Line the “open space” of the baking sheet with foil.  Prepare Italian Meatballs.

Place meatballs on foil lined baking sheet.  Bake veggies and meatballs for 20 to 25 minutes; remove from oven.

Carefully remove meatballs (foil and all); set aside.

Spread vegetables out over entire baking sheet (give ’em a stir while you’re at it); return to oven for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until “roasted” looking.  Remove from oven; set aside.  (Turn off oven.)

Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet or sauté pan over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and sauté until golden; remove and set aside.

In the same skillet, add remaining tablespoon of olive oil.  Increase heat to medium high.  Add Italian sausage; brown until thoroughly cooked.

Deglaze the skillet with white wine.  Add chicken stock, mushrooms, and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a gentle simmer.

Have a glass of wine and think about what it is you’re trying to make.

Next…

Get out a large Dutch oven or French oven (which I should have used in the first place) and melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in it.

Add flour to make a roux.

Pour in broth/wine liquid from skillet; whisk until thickened.  (Add more chicken stock if sauce is too thick.)

Stir in roasted veggies, meatballs, sausage, and mushrooms.

Remove bay leaf.  Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Place casserole in oven.  Heat for 15 to 20 minutes (use the residual heat from roasting the veggies — no need to turn the oven back on.)

Sweet talk hubby as to why dinner is taking so long.

Fix your hair, put on some fresh lipstick, open the oven door and proclaim, “The Cassoulet is ready!”

Serve promptly.

Enjoying messin’ around in my kitchen,

~ Kim

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