Italian

Spinach and Ricotta–Fabulous

This is a basic filling and can be used for a variety of dishes.

  • 1 lb fresh or 1/2 lb frozen spinach (cooked and squeezed very dry, chopped)
  • 3/4 lb ricotta, drained (cheesecloth helps)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 grated hard cheese (parmesan, pecorino, asiago)
  • 2/3 t nutmeg
  • salt and pepper if you like
  • me, I’ll chop some fresh picked flat parsley leaves

Mix it all in a bowl.  That’s pretty easy.

You can use this for lasagne.  If you are making a vegetarian lasagne you might want to add some lemon or orange zest and believe it or not top with gouda cheese.   Brocoli adds a nice texture.  For a meat lasagne, make meatballs with a mixture of sweet sausage and lean ground beef.  The combination keeps the beef from getting too dry and the sausage from overpowering.

This filling is great for manicotti and for stuffed shells.

The best use of this filling is what my uncle and aunt do–

Spinach Tortelloni/Tortellini/Cannelloni with Pasta Verde

Pasta Verde

  • 2 eggs
  • 2  c all purpose flour
  • 1/4 c cooked baby spinach (squeezed dry, chopped fine)

The traditional way of making pasta is to mound the flour on a wooden board.  Make a well (like a volcano) in the middle.  Mix up eggs and spinach and pour in the middle.  I like to work the moisture in the same way as pie dough, starting with one finger swirl in a spiral to incorporate the wet and dry until it forms into a ball.  It may be on the sticky side.  Add flour until it is smooth.  Let sit for 20 minutes before forming.

The mod-dren way of making pasta is in a food processor using a metal blade and the ‘pulse’ setting in quick bursts.  Put flour and spinach in the food processor mixing bowl.  Put on cover.  Mix eggs.  Dribble in while pushing pulse.  Stop when the dough makes a ball.  Let sit 20 minutes.

Making the pasta the traditional method.  Roll out with a rolling pin.  Cut in 2X2 squares for tortellini, 4×4 squares for tortelloni and 4×6 rectangles for cannelloni.  Great for the triceps.

Much better way to do it–get yourself a pasta roller.  The pasta roller will make a long sheet about 4 inches wide.

Tortellini takes a teaspoon of filling; tortelloni takes 1 tablespoon of filling.  Fill and fold in a rectangle.  Without trapping air, seal the edges.  Let rest 1/2 hour.

Cannelloni is cooked for 1 minute and blotted dry then filled and rolled.  The pieces are put seam down in a greased baking dish.

Cook in gently boiling water for about 3 or 3 1/2 minutes.

Serving suggestions for Tortelloni and Tortellini

Sauce with thickened chicken stock.  Garnish with fresh parsley and cracked pepper.

Cook in a light chicken stock or vegetarian broth for a really warming soup.  A rough bread with cracked pepper is a great accompaniment.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and saute finely minced fresh sage leaves.  Toss the filled pasta and top with grated cheese.

Serving suggestion for Cannelloni

Cover with a white sauce (beschamel, alfredo).  This is basically thickened milk or cream with cheese stirred in and seasoned with salt, pepper and nutmeg.  The bake for about 5 minutes.

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