Tag Archives: Pasta

Requesón and Cilantro Ravioli

31 Jan

Stuffed pastas have been with us since they were brought from northern Italy in medieval times. In the book, The Geometry of Pasta by Jacob Kenedy and Caz Hildebrand, it is written that there are numerous claims and legends to the invention of Ravioli. It is claimed that they developed from manti under Arab influence from the invasion of Sicily in the 1100’s. Genoa holds a claim, insisting that the name derives from the word rabilole, or “thing of little value”, which refered to the meals of the sailors, who turned scraps of leftovers into an entire meal of pasta. It is also said that the name could also derive from the word rabbiola, or “root vegetable”, ricotta and vegetable dumplings wrapped in turnips tops. With the most likely scenario being simply from the Italian avvolgere, or “to wrap”. Wherever their origin, there is little argument in the fact that the ravioli has taken its place as the undisputed king of Italian stuffed pastas.

Requeson and Cilantro Ravioli in a Tomato Poblano Sauce

Those of you that have read my About page know that the very first memory that I have actually helping my father in the kitchen was with making the ravioli on New Years morning. Ravioli was our  traditional New Years dish, and we had gluttonous eating contests every year to find who could eat the most ravioli. Our ravioli were not your typical ravioli, they seemed to be at least twice the size of normal ravioli, filled with ground beef, ground pork, ground veal, spinach, ricotta, romano and parmesan cheese. They were atomic weapons to your midsection, but my God, were they delicious!

My MexItalian spin on my fathers ravioli is not quite as nuclear, but I have incorporated some flavors of my past with some flavors of my present to bring what I think is a lighter, more interesting version of classic Italian ravioli! The pasta dough, for those with food allergies, is egg-free, as is the filling. The filling, which was inspired by Rick Bayless’s Ricotta-Stuffed Ancho Chiles with Red Wine Escabeche, uses requesón, which is a latin version of ricotta cheese, you can either make it at home in your kitchen, or you can cheat like me and buy a deli-fresh ricotta, do not substitute with the store-bought ricotta.  The effort involved with this dish is a bit intensive, but the finished product is so delicious that you will easily forget! Buen Provecho!

Requeson and Cilantro Ravioli in a Butter and Garlic Sauce

Requeson and Cilantro Ravioli in a Butter and Garlic Sauce

Requesón and Cilantro Ravioli

Pasta Dough

  • 1 cup Semolina
  • 1 cup Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 2/3 cup warm water

Filling

  • 1 cup fresh cilantro (loosely packed)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 16 oz. Fresh Requeson or Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Cracked Black Pepper
  • Salt  to taste
  1. Roast the garlic cloves on a comal or iron skillet until nice and soft, once they are cool, peel and mash in a bowl with a fork.
  2. Wash and dry the cilantro, be sure to dry very well, as you do not want to add any liquid to the filling, then chop the cilantro.
  3. Let the Requeson or ricotta drain in a colander or sieve for about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Combine the garlic, ricotta, cilantro, and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese in a mixing bowl and mix well, season with the salt and pepper.
  5. Cover and place in fridge to chill.
  6. Combine the two flours and sift together to combine.
  7. Mound the flour in the center of the countertop or a large wooden cutting board.
  8. Make a well in the center of the flour (I make a volcano!)
  9. Add a little water at a time, stirring with your hands until you form the dough.
  10. As you continue to add water, be sure to keep the volcano shape by pushing the flour up along the sides as well.
  11. Keep adding the water until you have a shaggy mass. At this point, more than half of your flour should be incorporated. The dough should feel elastic and just a bit sticky.
  12. I add a bit more water and then start kneading using the palm of your hands.
  13. Once the dough is one mass, continue kneading for about 5 minutes. Keep dusting with flour if necessary.
  14. Wrap with plastic wrap and let it rest for about 10 minutes.
  15. Attach the pasta roller to your Kitchen Aid mixer and put it on the widest setting (1).
  16. After the dough has rested, cut in half and form a small rectangle about 1 inch thick.
  17. Put the mixer speed on 2 and feed the dough through the roller. Each time dusting a bit with flour and folding to get the best separation. I usually need to feed it through at this setting about 5 or 6 times, each time dusting and folding.
  18. Continue and feed the sheet through each setting until you get to setting 5, at this time you have the proper thickness for the sheet.
  19. I usually cut the sheet into a length no larger than the width of my countertop, so cut the sheet after about 1 meter portions.

    Pasta Sheets

    Each Sheet of Pasta is about 1 Meter in Length

  20. Continue this process with the rest of the dough.
  21. Starting with one sheet, brush off any flour from the top of the sheet and take your filling out of the fridge. Measure one scant tablespoon of filling and place it along the center of the sheet about every 6 inches. Continue placing a tablespoon every six inches until you get to the end of the sheet. You want enough filling in each ravioli to have a nice shape, but not so much that you will have trouble sealing the edges of the pasta.

    Ravioli Filling

    Filling on the bottom sheet

  22. Mist with some water for adhesion.
  23. Place another sheet over the top and slightly flatten each pocket of filling, then start with gentle pressure to press out any air and to form a seal around and between each pocket of filling.
  24. Once all the air pockets have been removed and each pocket of filling is nicely formed, you can cut each ravioli using a cookie cutter, a pastry roller, or a ravioli cutter.
  25. Place the ravioli in a single layer on a cookie sheet dusted with semolina. At this point, if you want to freeze the ravioli for later, place the entire cookie sheet into the freezer. Once the ravioli has frozen, you can remove the pasta and put them into bags.

    Ravioli

    Ravioli made and ready to cook!

Tomato Poblano Sauce

  • 5 medium vine ripe tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 chile poblanos
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Roast the poblanos over a open flame or in the oven, then remove the stems, seeds, and veins and place in a blender.
  2. Quarter the tomatoes and place in the blender.
  3. Puree the tomatoes and poblanos.
  4. Put 3 tablespoons of the olive oil into a saucepan over medium-high heat. Crush the garlic with the back of a knife and fry with the red pepper until it just begins to color.
  5. Remove the garlic and pour the contents of the blender and quickly fry for about a minute.
  6. Lower the heat to medium-low and continue to cook for about 20 minutes or until the water is slightly reduced and the tomatoes no longer have that “raw” taste.
  7. Apply a liberal amount of salt and pepper to season, and finish with the rest of the olive oil.

    Requeson and Cilantro Ravioli

    Requeson and Cilantro Ravioli in a Tomato Poblano Sauce

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The DelGrosso Family

6 Jan Colle Sannita

When I was a child, one of my earliest recollections of my “identity” as an Italian was watching my father and my uncle hang sausage in my uncle’s attic to dry, filled with the rich smells of the ground pork, the pungent fennel, the aromas of the spicy peperoncino. From that moment in time, I always thought of my Italian identity as one directly associated with food. We even make this association in American society, as we think every Italian we meet can cook, am I right?

My family (and the DelGrosso surname) originates from a town in Italy named Colle Sannita. My Great Great Grandfather was Guissepantonio DelGrosso, and his wife, my Great Great Grandmother, was Pasqualina Viola.

DelGrosso

Guissepantonio DelGrosso and Pasqualina Viola

They gave birth, to my Great Grandfather, Giorgio DelGrosso, who went on to marry Innocenza DiMuccio who then gave birth to my Grandfather, Giovanni DelGrosso. My Grandfather, together with his mother, and his brother, Antonio, immigrated to the United States in November of 1907 on a ship from Naples, Italy called the Principe de Piemonte (which, interestingly, was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine in 1917). From there, my Grandfather went on to marry Michelina DiMatteo and they had 6 children, one of which was my father Robert DelGrosso. I will save the family history of the DiMatteo family for another time, for now I want to salute the town of Colle Sannita, my homeland!

Wedding

Wedding Photo of my Grandparents

I have been told that there are two distinct branches of the DelGrosso’s from Colle Sannita, one of noble pedigree, and the other of peasantry. I imagine that since my family left Colle Sannita for a better future, we were lesser of the two branches of DelGrosso’s! In fact, there are still many DelGrosso’s in Colle Sannita today! The typical surnames of Colle Sannita are Del Grosso, Palmiero, Zeolla, Viola, Tosto, Iacobaccio, Piccirillo, Vessecchia, Mutino, Zerrillo, Nista, Boscarelli, D’Emilia, Nigro, Pannella, D’Agostino, Basile, Iamarino, Marino, Tedesco, Finella, Finelli, Di Paola, Martuccio, Scrocca, Pilla, Piacquadio, Mascia, Petriella, Viscio, Vignogna, (Alderisio, Paolucci, de Paulis, Meomartini, Palmieri, Grasso, Piacquadio and del Grosso were the nobles families of Colle in the past), and another famous American family the Basilone’s. Anyone ever hear of John Basilone?

Colle Sannita is small town in the Province of Benevento in the Italian region of Campania. It is located about 80 km northeast of Naples. The name of the town derives from the “hill”, where the historical center of the town lies and its history goes as far back as Norman times (1340’s). It is a beautiful town on a hill!

Colle Sannita

Colle Sannita, Italy

I have fortunately been able to make numerous connections to my past through my new friends (and possibly family!) in Italy. The pictures posted here were taken by one of those friends, Fabio Paolucci, who also was able to help me trace my family history as he is also a genealogist! He is the administrator of the Facebook group called Colle Sannita! Collesi e oriuni di Colle nel mondo! Fabio has also sent us the gift of a dish typical of Colle Sannita:

Cavatelli

(Piatto tipico di Colle Sannita)

Yield: 6 people

  • 1 kg. Durum Wheat Flour
  • 1 egg
  • Water
  1. Put the flour on a surface and make a well. Crack the egg in the center of the well and add the water a bit at a time.
  2. Pull the flour into the well a bit at a time until it is completely incorporated.
  3. Knead the dough for 8-10 minutes, until it is firm.
  4. Cover and let dough rest for 30 minutes.
  5. Roll out the dough making the “pettola”, that is the dough rolled out to a thickness of 6-7 cm.
  6. Cut into 2-3 cm strips. Then cut each strip into small pieces.
  7. Each piece must then be “dug” (“cavato” hence the name cavatelli) with three fingers (index, middle, ring finger)
  8. Place them on a lightly floured baking sheet until ready to cook (You can freeze them by placing the sheet in the freezer first so they freeze separated, then placing the frozen cavatelli into a storage or freezer bag.
  9. Serve with a ragu and a sprinkle of parmigiano and a basil leaf.

    Colle Sannita

    Piazza Giuseppe Flora, Colle Sannita

Ragu ai Braciole

(Tipico di Colle Sannita)

Braciole:

  • 4 veal chops or cutlets, pounded flat
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggino, grated
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped fine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup White Wine

Sauce (Salsa):

  1. Prepare veal by pounding them thin and flat.
  2. Season with salt and pepper and spread some cheese and parsley on each chop.
  3. Roll up each chop and secure with some butchers twine (3 pieces of twine should do)
  4. Heat some oil in a saucepan on medium-high heat and brown the Braciole on each side.
  5. When all are nice and browned, add the white wine and reduce to its almost completely dry.
  6. Cook for an additional 10 minutes, Add the tomato sauce and the basil, season to taste. Serve with the cavatelli!

Saluti da Colle Sannita

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Chorizo Ragu

28 Dec

In keeping with my mission statement of combining Italian and Mexican cuisine on one plate, this week I bring you Sweet Potato Gnocchi with a Chorizo Ragu!  We all know gnocchi as a thick, delicious, potato based Italian dumpling. Like most Italian dishes, there is a great amount of variation in recipes across all of the regions of Italy.  My family has always made the potato and flour version.  Normally in Italy, gnocchi are a first course dish. This dish is made entirely hecho a mano (handmade) so plan to spend some time in the kitchen! The result is well worth it; a rich, fulfilling dish of Italian gnocchi with a slightly spicy, tender Mexican chorizo ragu. I recommend this first course to accompany a main of Grilled Salmon!

Mexican Chorizo

  • 2 – 2 ½ lbs. of ground pork (use the pork shoulder)
  • 8 Chile Guajillo
  • 6 Chile Ancho
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled.
  • 2 tablespoons of kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/3 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • ½ tablespoon ground cumin
  • ¾ tablespoons oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dry marjoram
  • ½ teaspoon coriander seeds
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • 6 cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  1. Chop the pork into cubes and put into the freezer for about 20 – 30 minutes to make it easier to work with.
  2. Put the salt, paprika, bay leaves, black pepper, cumin, oregano, marjoram, coriander, thyme, cloves, allspice into a spice grinder and grind them into a nice fine powder.
  3. Rinse the guajillo and ancho chiles with some water and toast on a comal. Then place into very hot water and cover. Let them soak for 30 minutes.

    Toast the Chiles

    Toasting the Chiles

  4. Remove the pork and season with the spice powder, make sure it is coated well using all the spice powder. (I like to grind the pork seasoned as it ensures a nice mix)
  5. After 30 minutes, remove the seeds, stems, and veins from the chiles and place in a blender with the garlic and the white vinegar. Blend into a smooth puree.
  6. Take you grinder and use the coarse grind plate and grind the pork into a large mixing bowl.

    Grind Pork

    Fresh Ground Pork Shoulder

  7. Add the chile mixture to the pork and mix well. Cover and place into the refrigerator for 24 hours.

    Chorizo

    Fresh Chorizo before "curing"

  8. After 24 hours take a bit, form into a patty and fry to check seasonings. Adjust seasonings if necessary (I have never adjusted them).
  9. At this point you can use as is or stuff into casings.

  

Chorizo Ragu

  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 lbs. fresh pork chorizo
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 – 28 oz. cans of San Maranzano tomatoes (whole, peeled, drained)
  1. Take the chopped onion, garlic, carrots, and celery and put in a food processor and pulse until it’s a nice dice (this is your mirepoix!).
  2. Take the drained tomatoes and break them up with your hands or a potato masher. Set aside.
  3. Take a large saucepan and medium-high heat and add the olive oil, once it is hot add the mirepoix (your onion, carrot, celery, garlic). Sautee for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the chorizo and stir to break it up, add the salt and cook for about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the wine and cook for about 2 minutes.
  6. Add the milk and cook for about 5 minutes.
  7. Add the tomato and bring to a slow boil, then turn heat down and simmer over low heat for about 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Chorizo Rag

Chorizo Ragu

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

  • 2 lbs. sweet potatoes
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp Nutmeg
  1. Quarter potatoes and steam in a large stockpot by placing a colander in pot with about six inches of water. Steam for about 35-40 minutes or until very tender.
  2. Once cool enough to touch but still warm, remove skins and mash well with a fork or use a potato ricer, add salt and pepper to season.
  3. Take 1 cup of the flour and place on a floured work surface, make a well in center and spoon in the mashed potato mixture. Continue to work into a dough, adding just enough flour to hold the dough together.  The dough should take about 2 ½ cups of flour total (give or take a ¼ cup).
  4. Once dough is well formed, roll out into a rectangle and divide into 6 equal pieces.
  5. Roll each piece into 20-inch-long rope (about 1 inch in diameter), sprinkling with flour as needed if sticky.
  6. Cut each rope into about 20 pieces.
  7. Roll each piece over tines of the back of a fork to indent.  Transfer to floured baking sheet.
  8. Bring large pot of water to boil; add 2 tablespoons salt and return to boil. Working in batches, boil gnocchi for about 5-6 minutes (once they float to the surface, cook for another 2 minutes).

    Sweet Potato Gnocchi with a Chorizo Ragu

Orecchiette ai Broccoli e Pancetta Tacchino

22 Dec Pasta

This recipe was inspired by Karen from the blog Back Road Journal. Since my family does not eat pork and we are not too keen on Broccoli Rabe, I substituted and came up with a light, delicious, 20 minute meal that will please even your 6-year-old! Now, in Italy, they usually cook the broccoli rabe till they are almost mush, but I like my vegetables al dente ( same as my pasta ), so if you want to cook the Italian way, cook the broccoli in the pasta water along with the orecchiette!

Here is what you will need:

1 package of Applegate Farms Organic Turkey Bacon, chopped.

2 crowns (about 2 cups) of Broccoli florets

1 lb. of Barilla Orecchiette

1 clove garlic

1 tsp peperoncino(crushed red pepper flakes)

3 tablespoon olive oil

1. Set a stockpot of boiling water with salt on the stove and bring to a boil.

2. Blanche the broccoli florets in the boiling water for about 3-5 minutes (depending on your taste, I like my brocolli with a little bite).

3. Take out the broccoli and shock in cold water. Then, in the same water, cook the pasta for about 10 minutes.

3. At the 10 minute mark of cooking the pasta, put a large saucepan or saute pan on the stove with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat.

5. After about 12 minutes, check the pasta. It should be just about al dente by now. You can remove and drain at this point. Reserve about 1/4 cup of the pasta water.

4. When the saute pan is hot but not smoking, add the whole garlic clove and peperoncino and fry to it starts to turn golden, then remove the garlic.

5.  Add the chopped turkey bacon and fry, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes, then add the broccoli.

6. Add the pasta water and cook for about 2 or 3 minutes more, then add the pasta and mix well, finishing the pasta with it new friends for about 1 minute.

7. Finish with the final tablespoon of olive oil and some parmiggiano reggiano and serve!

Pasta

Orecchiette with Broccoli and Turkey Bacon

Linguine ai Gamberi

16 Dec Linguine ai Gamberi

(Linguine Fini with Shrimp)

Want to make a fresh tomato sauce but think it take hours to cook? I have a fresh tomato sauce for you to pair with some sautéed shrimp and Barilla Linguine Fini pasta that will knock your socks off in 30 minutes or less!  What I really love about this sauce is that it can be a building block to a variety of pasta dishes.  

You’ll need the following:

  • 16-20 medium raw peeled shrimp (you can use frozen, but I prefer fresh)
  • 1 lb. of Barilla Liguini Fini pasta
  • Fresh Flat leaf parsley or basil.
  • 1 recipe fresh light tomato sauce (see below!)

Fresh Light Tomato Sauce

  • 5 large vine ripe tomatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic sliced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¾ tablespoon salt
  • Cracked Black Pepper
  • A pinch of Crushed Red Pepper
  1. Wash and quarter the tomatoes and put in a blender to puree.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and then fry the garlic and the red pepper flakes for no more than a minute.
  3. Add the tomato puree and bring to a brisk boil, then add the salt.
  4. Cook the sauce for about 20 minutes stirring frequently.  
  5. Add some cracked black pepper and then taste and adjust salt if needed.

The first step is to follow the directions above to make the tomato sauce. After about 20 minutes, heat a large sauté pan with about 2 tablespoons of clarified butter or olive oil. When very hot, but not smoking, add the shrimp.  Cook the shrimp for about 2 minutes then shake vigorously to flip them over.  Cook for another 2 minutes and then add about ½ cup of white wine. Cook for another minute to reduce the wine and take the shrimp and add it to the tomato sauce. Add some fresh chopped parsley or basil to finish of the sauce if you desire, I usually keep it simple and add it at the end. Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water for about 5 minutes.  Drain well and add to the sauce and let the pasta finish cooking in the sauce for a final minute. All that’s left to do is to add the fresh chopped parsley or basil as a garnish and serve!

Linguine ai Gamberi

Linguine ai Gamberi

Meatless Monday – Conchiglie con Carciofi

6 Dec Medium Shells with Artichoke hearts

Quick Meatless Monday Post! In a hurry? Whip up a meatless dish of Barilla medium shell pasta with a quick tomato sauce of pomodoro San Maranzano and artichoke hearts! You are sitting down and eating in 30 minutes! Simply bring about 6 quarts of salted water to boil in a pasta cooker and cook the pasta al dente (about 8 minutes). Once the pasta is done, add the pasta to the sauce! Very simple and delicious dish. Only two important points to remember.

1. Use only San Maranzano tomatoes.

2. Make sure to finish off the cooking of the pasta in the sauce.

 

Medium Shells with Artichoke hearts

Conchiglie con Carciofi

Conchiglie con Carciofi

(For the sauce)

  • 1 Can of San Maranzano peeled tomatoes (28 oz.)
  • 1/2 medium white onion diced
  • 1 clove of garlic diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • cracked black pepper
  • 1 package of frozen artichoke hearts (9 oz)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • pinch of sugar

1.  In a saucepan on medium-high heat, put the olive oil and heat it up a bit.

2. When it is hot but not smoking, put in onions and garlic, cook until the onion is translucent.

3. Crush or chop the tomatoes. I use my hands to crush them up!

4. Put tomatoes in saucepan and add the salt and pepper.

5. In a medium saucepan, put frozen artichoke hearts in with about 1/2 cup of water. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat, cover and cook for about 5 minutes. Drain, chop, then set aside.

6. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning, put in a pinch of sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes if desired.

7. Put the artichokes in the sauce and shake pan to incorporate.

8. Cook for another 5 minutes.

 9. Add the marginally undercooked pasta to the saucepan, toss well, and cook in the sauce for another 20 seconds or so. This will marry all the flavors with the pasta.

Serve with fresh grated parmigiano reggiano and garnish with fresh chopped basil or parsley.

 

Mangia!