Saturday, 17 October 2009
Warning: This post contains ramblings about burnt nuts and pink pee. You have been warned.
Leftovers are a fabulous excuse to make stuffed pasta. This time I had some blue cheese that needed to be used. I also had a bit of ricotta and cheddar left over. Tortellini time! A rummage around my refrigerator also turned up a bunch of beet root - a fabulous compliment to blue cheese.
I'd been in the mood to make pasta lately, so this was perfect. Pasta is one of those things that I find surprisingly relaxing to make even though I used to hate it. The culinary nemesis is now a fast friend. Dinner was a go - blue cheese tortellini with beet root and a walnut-brown butter sauce. Nothing could be simpler.
Famous last words, right?
My nuts - I burned them. Scorched, black, and inedible, they ended up in the bin. Walnuts are not meant to be black and awful. They are supposed to be smokey and delicious. Do not eat burnt nuts. With a broken heart, I tossed them and opted for the less nice walnut oil and brown butter sauce.
Please note that because these are leftovers, the measurements are approximate. The best thing to do is use your taste buds and get a mix that tastes delicious to you!
- portion of homemade pasta
- about 1/4 cup blue cheese finely chopped into bitty pieces
- 3 to 4 Tablespoons shredded cheddar (opt.)
- about 1/4 cup ricotta - enough to end up with a cheese paste instead of a cheese crumb
- 1 egg beaten
1. Prepare the pasta and leave to rest *recipe to follow
2. While the pasta is resting, mix together cheeses and season to taste. I used a chef's knife and a spoon, but you can probably use an electric chopper of some sort. The point of the ricotta is to bind the cheddar and blue cheeses into a paste that's much nicer to work with as well as lovely moist and gooey when cooked.
3. Roll out the pasta in a pasta machine. I rolled mine out to setting 2 - the second to last thinnest. I find that the pasta falls apart too easily on level 1 and anything thicker than setting three is harder to work with for filled pasta. I stuck to the middle.
4. Cut out circles about 2.5 inches in diameter. If you don't have a round cutter - I used a pastry cutter - you can cut your pasta into squares with a knife.
5. Put about 1/2 teaspoon of filling into the center of your pasta. Using a pastry brush, paint a thin layer of wash all around the filling. Don't just do the edges - do the whole bloody thing. It helps ensure you get rid of air bubbles. Fold the pasta in half making sure to gently squeeze any air bubbles out. If you're working with a circle, you should have a half circle. If you're working with a square, you should now have a triangle. Wrap the ends around your finger and squeeze to secure. You should now have a little tortellini. Hurray!
6. Set your tortellini on a FLOURED TOWEL. Do NOT leave your pasta on a tray even a well floured one as the moisture will prove itself a right pain in the bottom. You will get soggy pasta. I usually have a small plate in the fridge with a flour dusted dish towel on it. That way, every half dozen or so, I can shove them in the fridge where they hold up a lot better. What you want to avoid either way is leaving the pasta out in the open for very long. You will end up with a soggy, sticky messy pasta blob.
Note: Pasta will keep in the fridge like this for a day or two. Otherwise, pop your towel with a single later of pasta on it into the freezer. Once the pasta's frozen you can shove everything in a bag. Do NOT 'air dry' tortellini. 1. it doesn't work for the reasons listed 2. you've got raw egg in the pasta plus perishable ingredients that just don't do well out in the air.
To Roast Beets:
Top and tail your beets. Chuck them in foil and wrap them up tight. Throw them into an oven at 200 degrees C for at least an hour. Pull them out of the oven and let them rest until they're cool enough to handle. Most people will suggest you wear latex gloves when handling beets. That's all well in good. I don't like latex gloves, so I opted not to wear them. Contrary to popular belief, my hands are not pink. However, you may choose to take the risk of pink dyed hands or not.
Peel and dice the beets into little cubes about 1/2 inch square. I tossed them in a little lemon juice, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. They were obviously cold by the time I'd made my pasta. Bear in mind that pasta doesn't stay warm for very long. So while I was cooking the pasta and sauce, I chucked my beets onto the plate and tossed the whole thing into the oven which was set on a very low temperature. This resulted in warm beets and a warm plate.
I would suggest a blend of butter, seasoning, and walnuts. I would not advise cream sauce with beets. It will be pink and gross looking for one thing. And I've never found that beets pair well with cream based anything. Anyway, toss your pasta with the butter sauce and pour it over your beets.
Fun Beet Fact - There are some people who can't digest betalain pigments that make beets red. It results in pink pee. This condition is called beeturia.