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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Pasta/Pizza

HALLOWEEN: Spooky Pasta Recipes

Add some food fun to your Halloween with these two pasta recipes from Certified Angus Beef.

RECIPE: SPOOKETTI & MEATBALLS

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 eggs
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 (10-ounce) jar pimento-stuffed olives
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • 6 cups cooked whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1 (26-ounce) jar prepared pasta sauce
  •  

    ghoulish-pasta-certifiedangusbeef-230

    Spooketti and meatballs. Photo courtesy Certified Angus Beef.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F.

    2. COMBINE the ground beef, eggs, breadcrumbs, ketchup, herbs and spices; shape into 1-1/2-inch balls, making 12 total. Insert 1 olive into each meatball to look like an eye.

    3. PLACE the meatballs in a pan and roast approximately 25 minutes until thoroughly cooked and no pink remains (160°F internal temperature).

    4. HEAT the sauce and ladle over pasta. Serve 2 meatballs per plate.

     

    graveyard-bake-certifiedangusbeef-230

    Eat the graveyard! Photo courtesy Certified
    Angus Beef.

     

    Graveyard Bake

  • 1 pound round chuck
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 pound fusilli pasta, cooked and drained
  • 2 cups crushed potato chips
  • 1 cup Monterey jack cheese
  • 4 green onions, sliced thin
  • 6 oval crackers (like Keebler Town House), optional
  •  

    Preparation

    1. BROWN ground chuck in large fry pan. Drain liquid from beef.

    2. ADD tomatoes, tomato sauce, onion powder, garlic salt and cayenne pepper; simmer for 5 minutes. Mix in the cooked pasta.

    3. POUR into a 9 x 9 baking dish. Top with potato chips and cheese and broil for 3 minutes or until the cheese is melted and chips are golden brown.

    4. GARNISH with green onions and crackers (the tombstones).

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Polska Foods Pierogi

    Today is National Pierogi Day. How we miss the pierogi of our youth. Now that Nana is gone, we have searched in vain in both stores and restaurants to recapture the glory of her homemade pierogi.

    Finally, we’ve found it with the excellent pierogi from Polska Foods. Yes, they are pierogis that are as good as Nana’s. We rejoice!

    Many pierogis are pretty flavorless lumps of flour and potatoes, requiring lots of seasoning, frying, sour cream or whatever to become pleasing.

    Polska’s dough and fillings are so flavorful, we ate them plain—although for serving to family and friends, we’d spruce them up with some melted butter, fresh herbs, or one of these 50+ ways to serve pierogi.

    The line of authentic pierogi, made in San Francisco, is organic and all-natural. They are shipped frozen, anywhere in the continental U.S., from PolskaFoods.com.
     
    RECAPTURING GRANDMA’S RECIPES

    Tomek Piszczek, founder of Polska Foods, was born and raised in Poland and knows the real deal. “This is how we enjoyed pierogi,” he states. “All ingredients were from our garden or our neighbor’s farm. We even grew our own grain.”

       

    beef-pork-230

    A real treat, for every day or special occasions. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     
    Polska Foods follows tradition with the fresh ingredients, slow food cooking processes and nothing artificial.

    After a full year of research and development, the company settled on kosher, award winning, handcrafted farmer’s cheese made without rennet and enzymes and rBST-free; organic heirloom grain and flour; fresh organic vegetables; real sauerkraut made with just cabbage and salt, and even organic herbs and seasonings.

    The pierogi contain no preservatives, no MSG, no GMO ingredients, no soy, and absolutely nothing artificial. The recipes use only organic or expeller-pressed oils, and never any trans fats.

    The result duplicates Tomek’s grandma’s recipes from Lubiechowa, Polanda: tasty comfort food with superb flavor.

    The line is certified organic by Oregon Tilth.

     

    mushroom-cabbage-230

    A delicious all-vegetable (and vegan)
    version. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE
    NIBBLE.

     

    THE BEST PIEROGI IN MINUTES

    To make the pierogis, you simply boil or steam the frozen pierogi for 8 to 10 minutes or fry or sauté them in a nonstick pan. Then, simply toss with butter, sautéed onions, bacon and fresh sage, or top with sour cream, nonfat Greek yogurt or yogurt-garlic sauce. The results are spectacular.

    You can also make a sweet breakfast or brunch recipe with a topping of sour cream and brown sugar on the potato and cheese variety. The line includes:

  • Potato Cheese Pierogi, made with herbed mashed potatoes and farmer’s cheese, is peppery, with complex flavor from the onions and garlic.
  • Mushroom Cabbage Pierogi, a delicious vegan recipe
  • Spinach Feta Pierogi, a Greek fusion favorite
  • Savory Beef & Pork Pierogi, too delicious for words
  • Whole Wheat Potato Cheese Pierogi, made with better-for-you whole wheat dough
  •  
    Each is wonderful, and we can’t get enough!

    For a retail locator, to buy online or for more information, visit PolskaFoods.com.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: 50+ Ways To Eat Pierogi

    October 8th is National Pierogi Day.

    Pierogi* are dumplings of Central and Eastern European origin, traditionally stuffed with cheese, fruit, ground meat, mashed potato or sauerkraut. They can be served boiled baked or fried/sautéed, usually in butter with sautéed onions.

    Pierogi is the Polish word. In Russian the term is pelmeni (don’t confuse pierogi with pirog, the Russian word for pie); in Ukrainian it is varenyky.

    The Polish word pierogi is plural. The singular form, pieróg, is rarely used since a typical serving consists of multiple pierogi.

    The dumplings are usually semicircular, but in some areas are rectangular or triangular.

    Here’s how to celebrate: 50 ways to eat pierogi, culled from a list of 100 ways at PolskaFoods.com.
     
    *Also spelled perogi, pierogy, perogy, pierógi, pyrohy, pirogi, pyrogie, or pyrogy.
     
    PIEROGI & DIP

  • Dipped in honey mustard or Dijon mustard
  • Dipped in Greek yogurt
  • Dipped in ranch dressing
  • Dipped in sour cream and hot sauce (spicy dip)
  • Dipped in sour cream and chopped green onions (onion dip)
  •    

    LN Fast Snack Cheese Pierogy Bites-230

    Pierogi topped with melted Cheddar. Photo courtesy Lewis & Neals.

     

    PIEROGI TOPPERS

    Boil, fry or saute the pierogi and serve:

  • Topped with Alfredo Sauce
  • Topped with apple sauce (cheese pierogi)
  • Topped with Bearnaise Sauce
  • Topped with butter and chives
  • Topped with caramelized onions in butter & paprika sour cream
  • Topped with caramelized onions, sage and jalapeño
  • Topped with caramelized onions and Polish sausage
  • Topped with caramelized onions, finely chopped bacon and garlic
  • Topped with caramelized onions and sour cream
  • Topped with chili con carne
  • Topped with Greek yogurt, dill, diced cucumber and red onion
  • Topped with green curry sauce
  • Topped with jelly or jam and optional sour cream (cheese pierogi)
  • Topped with mango peach salsa (cheese pierogi)
  • Topped with marinara sauce and cooked ground meat
  • Topped with melted butter
  • Topped with melted Cheddar cheese
  •  

    AUTUMN_PIEROGIES_APPLES-MrsTs-230

    Pierogi with sautéed apples. Photo courtesy
    Mrs. T’s.

     
  • Topped with mushroom sauce
  • Topped with pesto sauce
  • Topped with roasted eggplant and tomatoes
  • Topped with roasted tomatoes and garlic
  • Topped with salmon or whitefish caviar (cheese or potato pierogi)
  • Topped with sautéed apples
  • Topped with smoked salmon, thinly sliced onions and capers (cheese pierogi)
  • Topped with sour cream, fresh basil and green onion
  • Topped with sour cream and fresh salsa: chopped onion, garlic, tomatoes, cilantro, lime
  • Topped with sour cream, garlic and chives
  • Topped with spicy salsa
  • Topped with whitefish, sable, smoked salmon, lettuce, tomato, red onion, cucumbers, and capers (cheese pierogi)
  • Topped with yogurt, garlic and herb sauce
  •  
    MORE ELABORATE PREPARATIONS

  • Bacon wrapped pierogi appetizers
  • Baked pierogi casserole with bacon, tomato and cheese
  • Pierogi casserole dish with your favorite casserole ingredients
  • Pierogi crostini topped with mushrooms, scallions and spicy fresh salsa
  • Pierogi tossed with garlicky string beans, onion, bell pepper and bacon
  • Pierogi “salad”: cold or hot pierogi on a bed of lettuce with honey Dijon mustard sauce or vinaigrette
  • Pierogi “salad” with other favorite ingredients (vegetables, ham, turkey, spinach, etc.)
  • Pierogi tossed with fried mushrooms, bacon and onions
  • Pierogi tossed with onions, peppers, and chicken sausage
  • Pierogi with melted mozzarella, caramelized onions and sautéed mushrooms
  • Pizza Pierogi: potato or cheese pierogi with pizza sauce, melted mozzarella cheese and pepperoni
  • Salmon skillet with pierogi, onions, capers, lemon, dill, and garlic
  • Sautéed pierogi in butter, topped with chili, cheese, sour cream and habanero sauce
  • Sautéed pierogi in butter, topped with steamed broccoli and melted cheese
  • Sautéd pierogi in olive oil with onion, kale, fresh garlic, lemon and oregano
  • Sautéd pierogi in sesame oil with kale, fresh garlic, red bell pepper and sesame seeds
  • Vegetable pierogi frittata with asparagus and garlic
  •  
    This should keep you busy through the next National Pierogi Day!

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: A Better Pasta Sauce From Vino De Milo

    hilo-by-milo-230w

    You won’t find more nutritious pasta sauce
    than this! Photo courtesy Vino de Milo.

     

    We first discovered Vino de Milo in 2005. It was a new line of gourmet tomato sauces for pasta and other dishes. Each flavor had a different wine in the recipe. It was a delight atop our pasta, chicken, eggs and tofu, and wonderful for gift-giving to cooks and non-cooks alike.

    But not every new product line survives and thrives. Some of our favorites have gone with the wind.

    That’s why we’re so pleased that Vino de Milo has grown and expanded, with bruschetta toppings, salad dressings and salsas.

    We love that the pasta sauces and the bruschetta toppings, both made from top-quality tomatoes that are so naturally sweet, have no sugar added. Americans consume a ghastly 22 teaspoons of sugar a day (the government recommends only nine teaspoons), much of it from “hidden” sugar added to prepared foods. Read the full review.

    Now, the company has added nutrition to its pasta sauce. Hilo by Milo is a high fiber, low sodium pasta sauce with a great nutritional profile. Per 3/4 cup serving, it has:

  • 5 g fiber
  • 4 g protein
  • 150 mg sodium
  • 110 calories
  •  

    The sauce uses crushed tomatoes, of course. But added to them are other fresh ingredients: fresh carrots, adzuki beans, currant purée, fresh onions, onion powder, red wine, fresh fennel, garlic powder, fresh basil, fresh thyme, cumin, black pepper, rosemary and crushed red pepper.

    Yes, you can taste the freshness!

    Like the other Vino de Milo pasta sauces, it is made in small batches with no added sugars added and is gluten-free.

    The products can be ordered from iGourmet.com.
     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Turn Leftover Pasta Into Antipasto Salad

    antipasto-salad-melissas-230

    For lunch or a light dinner: antipasto salad.
    Photo courtesy Melissas.

     

    Turn your leftover pasta into an antipasto salad.

    You can boil the pasta from scratch, but whenever we make short cut pasta for a hot dish, we make extra for a cold pasta salad later in the week.

    You can customize the recipe with your favorite ingredients, and use up leftover peas and other veggies. With this recipe from Melissa’s The Great Pepper Cookbook, prep time is 30 minutes, total time 50 minutes.

    RECIPE: ANTIPASTO SALAD

    Ingredients For 12 Servings (1-1/4 Cups)

    For The Salad

  • 1 pound fusilli, rotini or other corkscrew pasta
  • 1/2 pound (about 2 cups) cooked ham, cubed
  • 5 ounces smoked mozzarella cheese, cubed
  • 4 ounces (3/4 cup) hard salami, cubed
  • 3 ounces pepperoni (3/4 cup), cut into strips
  • 1/2 cup pitted or stuffed green olives
  • 1/2 cup pitted black olives (Kalamata or Picholine)
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small red onion or sweet onion, very thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional Garnishes

  • Pickled garlic
  • Pepperoncini pickled peppers
  • Sundried tomatoes, julienned, or fresh tomatoes (wedges or halved cherry tomatoes
  •  

     

    For The Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 seasoned rice vinegar or wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning, crushed
  • 1 sundried tomato, finely diced (about 1
    tablespoon)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil or canola oil
  •  

    Preparation

    1. COOK pasta per package directions; drain, rinse with cold water and cool to room temperature.

    2. MAKE the vinaigrette. Combine all ingredients, except for the oil. Drizzle in the oil while whisking, and continue to mix until well combined. Set aside.

    3. COMBINE the pasta with the remaining salad ingredients except optional garnishes; season with salt and pepper to taste. When ready to serve, toss with dressing and top with the garnishes.

    Here’s another antipasto salad recipe with a different set of ingredients.

     

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    Be adventurous: Try different shapes like gemelli (juh-MELL-lee, meaning “twins”) instead of the more common fusilli in the photo above. Photo courtesy Barilla.

     

    WHAT IS SHORT CUT PASTA?

    Think of Italian pasta in these general categories:

  • Long Form Or Strand Pasta. This refers to any spaghetti-like that you can twist around your fork. These pastas are made in varying widths, from the thinnest angel hair to the plumpest bucatini. They can be round or flat (see ribbon pasta, next), solid or hollow, like bucatini.
  • Ribbon Pasta. A sub-category of long form pasta. These are the flat cuts: fettuccine, lasagne, linguine and tagliatelle, for example.
  • Short form pasta takes several forms:

  • Tubular Pasta. From tiny to jumbo, smooth or ridged (“rigati”), straight-cut or diagonally cut, this category includes elbows, manicotti, penne and rigatoni are well-known cuts. In this category, the seemingly same size pasta will have a different name if the ends are straight-cut versus diagonally cut—for example, penne, straight tubes cut on the diagonal, versus rigatoni, with square-cut ends.
  • Shaped Pasta. Farfalle (bow ties), fusilli (corkscrews), ruote (wagon wheels) are prominent examples. There are endless ways to twist and curl and shape pasta; hence, the hundreds of regional varieties.
  • Stuffed Pasta. This group includes agnolotti, mezzelune, ravioli, tortellini and “dumpling” pasta like gnocchi.
  •  
    See the different types of pasta in our Pasta Glossary.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: BLT Pasta Salad

    blt-pasta-salad-davidvenableQVC-230

    Like BLTs? Here’s a BLT Pasta Salad. Photo
    courtesy QVC.

     

    “Everyone needs a good pasta salad recipe for the summer,” says QVC chef David Venable. Here’s a fun pasta salad: a BLT Pasta Salad with Arugula, Bacon & Feta Cheese.

    It deconstructs a BLT sandwich, using baby arugula for the lettuce and adding cheese and chicken so it has the protein to serve as a luncheon or dinner salad.

    But, you can leave out the cheese and chicken and serve it as a side salad.

    David advises, “If you want to serve it as a side salad, this recipe is a flavor-packed side dish that would pair perfectly with anything from ribs to grilled salmon.”

    Add optional croutons for a fully deconstructed BLT sandwich.

     
    RECIPE: BLT PASTA SALAD

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 16-ounce box farfalle (bow tie) pasta
  • 1/2 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2-3/4 pound baby arugula
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (substitute goat or blue cheese)
  • 1 cup cooked or grilled chicken pieces (optional)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon rind, grated
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: homemade garlic croutons
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COOK the pasta according to the package directions. Drain well.

    2. TRANSFER the pasta to a large serving bowl. Add the bacon, green onions, cherry tomatoes, and arugula to the warm pasta. Add feta cheese and optional chicken and toss.

    3. WHISK together the balsamic vinegar, lemon rind and mustard in a small bowl. Gradually add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until blended. Whisk in the salt and pepper, to taste.

    4. POUR the vinaigrette into the pasta salad and toss until well coated. Serve warm.

     
    Find more of David Venable’s recipes at QVC.com.
     
      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Firecracker Macaroni & Cheese

    It’s not red, white and blue, but it has extra
    heat for a “firecracker” punch. Photo
    courtesy Dietz & Watson.

      Heat things up on July 4th with this special mac and cheese from Dietz & Watson, which used its peppadew and Cheddar with Jalapeño & Habañero products.

    RECIPE: FIRECRACKER MACARONI & CHEESE

    Ingredients For 4 to 6 Servings

  • 2 pounds 100% semolina ziti
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground white or black pepper*
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3/4 pound peppadew*, grated or finely chopped
  • 1/4 pound Cheddar with Jalapeño & Habañero, grated or finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Hungarian paprika, for garnish
  •  
    *You can subsitute pimiento (roasted red peppers) for the peppadew, but the latter is tangier. You can use black pepper instead of white pepper; the difference is that black flecks will show in the recipe. White pepper was created (by removing the spicy black skin of peppercorns) for aesthetic reasons, that are no longer so important in current times. Black pepper delivers more heat.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F, and butter a 2-quart ovenproof casserole dish.

    2. BRING a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil and toss in the ziti. Boil until just slightly firm (al dente), drain in a colander (do not rinse) and set aside momentarily.

    3. MELT the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, stir in the flour to form a smooth paste (roux), and cook for about 1 minute. Pour in the milk, whisking constantly, and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, season with salt and white pepper, and add the nutmeg and thyme. Stir in the cheeses a bit at a time until incorporated and smooth.

    4. ADD the ziti to the cheese sauce, stirring gently to coat, and pour into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle the top evenly with Parmesan cheese and bake for 10 minutes.

    5. REMOVE the casserole from the oven and place under the broiler until bubbly and golden brown. Watch carefully to prevent the top from burning. Sprinkle with paprika, and serve hot.

     
      

    Comments

    JULY 4th: Bacon Flag Pizza

    Blogger Bev Cooks of Kansas City designed this celebratory snack for Independence Day. It’s so nifty, there’s temptation to find more occasions to eat this flag!

    RECIPE: BACON FLAG PIZZA

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup jarred Alfredo sauce (or make your own with this recipe)
  • 1 tube (11 ounces) Pillsbury thin crust pizza dough
  • 1 pinch coarse salt
  • 4 small purple potatoes, sliced thinly with a mandoline
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 7 slices bacon
  •    

    You’re a grand old pizza! Photo courtesy BevCooks.com.

     

     

    Purple potatoes

    Also use purple potatoes in a red, white and blue potato salad. Photo courtesy BevCooks.com.

     

    Prepration

    1. ARRANGE the raw bacon slices on a cooling rack. Place the rack on a rimmed baking sheet and then into a cold oven.

    2. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Set the timer for 20 minutes. When the timer rings, remove the bacon from the oven. Leave the oven on. In the meantime…

    3. HEAT the oil in a medium skillet. Add the sliced potatoes and sauté until they brown and become slightly crispy, about 7 minutes. Add a pinch of salt.

    4. DRAIN the bacon fat from the baking sheet and flip it over. Lightly grease the underside. Roll the dough onto the sheet. Prebake for 6 minutes.

    5. SPOON the Alfredo sauce over the crust. Arrange the potatoes in the upper left hand corner of the pizza. You can overlap them or lay them side by side. Arrange the bacon to the right and under the potatoes, creating stripes.

    6. SPRINKLE the cheese between the bacon stripes. If you want, you can create little cheese stars on the potatoes. Bake pizza an additional 6 to 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted, browned and bubbly.
     
    MORE

    Check out this crudités American flag.

     

    See the step-by step photos on Tablespoon.com.

    Check out more of Bev’s wonderful recipes at BevCooks.com.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Vegan Pesto From Sauces ‘n Love

    Sauces-n-Love_Vegan-Pesto-230

    Vegan, lactose free and cholesterol free
    pesto. Photo courtesy Sauces ‘n Love.

     

    Keeping a good jar of pre-made pesto at hand can make any dish extraordinary in only a matter of minutes.

    Pesto sauce, traditionally consists of basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, Parmesan and Pecorino cheeses and salt for seasoning. Add a dollop to dinner and suddenly you’re a fancy cook who understands how to dazzle with delicate herbs. Pesto is vegetarian, low in carbs and packed with fresh ingredients: a bright, healthy addition to your meals.

    Pesto originated in the Italian province of Liguria, 220 miles of crescent-shaped Mediterranean coastline that is sometimes called the Italian Riviera. Liguria, the capital of which is Genoa, is home to superb produce, most notably the sweetest, mildest basil. Its people enjoy one of the freshest, healthiest cuisines in all of Italy.

    Just as pesto can be made with different nuts (hazelnuts, pistachios, walnuts) and greens (arugula, spinach)—or even non-greens, like red pepper pesto—it can be made vegan instead of vegetarian. One way to do this is to substitute vegan Parmesan.

     

    But Sauces ‘n Love has creating a pesto condiment, dip and sauce that eliminates the cheese or cheese substitute. Using only extra virgin olive oil, sunflower oil, basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt and black pepper still creates a delicious pesto.

     

    Why vegan pesto? Aside from accommodating the growing number of vegans, it’s a boon for non-vegans who are lactose intolerant, those cutting back on cholesterol, and kosher consumers who want to serve pesto with meat-based meals.

    Sauces ‘n Love, a NIBBLE Top Pick of The Week is one of our favorite lines of Italian-style sauces, sold fresh in the refrigerator case. A sister line, Scarpetta, is shelf-stable and will stay fresh without refrigeration for nine months. Learn more at SaucesNLove.com.
     
    MORE ABOUT PESTO

  • Pesto Overview
  • The History Of Pesto
  • Pesto Serving Suggestions
  • Homemade Pesto Recipe and Pesto Prep Tips
  • More Favorite Pestos
  •  

    Pesto-SalmonCakes-230

    Beyond pasta: Pesto can be used to enhance most savory dishes. Photo by Guyer Wood | IST.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Tortellini En Brodo

    Tortellini en brodo (often misspelled in the U.S. as tortellini in brodo) is a classic Italian dish. Some Americans call it tortellini soup.

    It is served as a first course—chicken broth with a few tortellini—or as a main dish packed with tortellini. It’s a cousin of dumpling and chicken soups from Jewish chicken soup with kreplach to Chinese wonton soup, not to mention American chicken-noodle soup.

    While most Americans eat tortellini with a red or white sauce and grated Parmesan, en brodo is a lighter way to enjoy the little loops of pasta.

    The dish, which originated in the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna (more about that below), is warming in cold weather, but light enough to be summer fare. You can make it from scratch or purchase the components. Both the tortellini and the broth can be made ahead and reheated.

    While a flavorful bowl of chicken broth and tasty tortellini are comfort food in any season, if you don’t add veggies and herb garnishes, you’re leaving a lot off the table.

  • Add lots of fresh herbs. Parsley will do; but you can pick your favorites, from cilantro to dill. They may not be authentic Italian herbs, but this is your show (and they taste great with the dish).
  •    

    http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-tortellini-soup-delicious-vegetable-image30876662

    Tortellini en brodo in its simplest form, with fresh herbs. Photo by Aas2009 | Dreamstime.

  • Root vegetables add fragrance and flavor the broth. Also consider spinach or kale.
  •  
    Customize your recipe:

  • Combine both white and green tortellini. Mixing up different fillings offer a pleasant surprise with each bite.
  • In spring, add fresh peas or other seasonal vegetables such as asparagus.
  • Make it a heartier dish with strips of poultry or pork, or tiny meatballs.
  • Spice it up with a garnish of sliced fresh jalapeño.
  • Go fusion with a garnish of tortilla or wonton strips.
  •  

    sauces-tortellini-230

    The next time you make tortellini, try it en
    brodo
    instead of with traditional sauces.
    Photo of Randazzo’s tortellini and sauces by
    Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    THE HISTORY OF TORTELLINI

    Tortellini are made by filling long strips of pasta, rolling them into tubes and cutting individual pieces, which are pinched together with the thumb and forefinger. The famous “loop” shape is said to be based on the belly button of the Venus, the Roman goddess of love.

    One of the most famous versions of the legend, written in the 14th century, tells us that that Bacchus, Mars and Venus came down to earth to intervene in a 12th century war between Bologna and Modena (in Emilia-Romagna). They spent the night at an inn in Castelfranco, a small town located between the two cities.

    In the morning, Bacchus and Mars arose early to visit the battle site. When Venus awoke and could not find her companions, she called for the innkeeper, who arrived to find the goddess of love naked. Inspired by her navel, he created a new shape of pasta. (Seriously, Mr. Innkeeper—her navel inspired you?)

    Tortellini are made in a size that fits easily onto a soup spoon. There is a recipe for tortelli, larger tortellini, that dates back to the 12th century. The first recipe for tortellini alla Bolognese, tomato and meat sauce, appeared in Bologna in 1550 and became a signature dish in that city. (Note that Tuscans also claim tortellini as their regional pasta.)

     
    Tortellini en brodo was the traditional Christmas soup, made with capon broth, which was favored by the ruling classes. The broth was made rich by cooking all the meat in it. The meat was then turned into a stuffing with Parmigiano-Reggiano, prosciutto crudo and/or mortadella.

    Today you can find tortellini filled with everything from cheese blends to meat and cheese to pumpkin.
     
    THE CULINARY LEGACY OF EMILIA-ROMAGNA

    If you love great Italian food, consider a trip to Emilia-Romagna. It’s the birthplace of, among other culinary pearls:

  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano and Grana Padano cheeses
  • Prosciutto di Parma
  • Pasta cuts including cappelletti, garganelli, gramigna, lasagne, strozzapreti, tagliatelle, tortellini and tortelli alla lastra (ravioli)
  • Wines such as Lambrusco, Sangiovese and Trebbiano
  • Zuppa inglese, a trifle-like custard dessert
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