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Fortinbras Armstrong

Fortinbras Armstrong's Journal
Fortinbras Armstrong's Journal
November 12, 2012

One of my favorite cookbooks is

The Vegeterranean:Italian Vegetarian Cooking by Malu Simoes and Alberto Musacchio. They run a vegetarian hotel/restaurant near Perugia where I once stayed. I was so impressed by the cooking there that I bought their cookbook (which I had to buy from Amazon in the UK).

One of my favorite recipes is Cannelloni di Ricotta con Sugo di Pomodoro (Riccota cannelloni with tomato sauce)

It uses pasta one makes for oneself; a few notes before I start. The first rule of pasta dough is you do not talk about pasta dough -- sorry, that's another set of rules. The actual first rule is the flour should be measured by weight, not volume. The second rule of pasta dough is you cannot overknead it. I am assuming that you have one of those pasta rolling machines. If you don't, you can roll it by hand -- which is a good way of developing the muscles in your forearms.

9 oz (250 gm) all purpose flour
2 whole eggs
3 egg yolks

(Keep the extra egg whites -- if the dough is too dry, you have some liquid to add. If it's too wet, add flour. Yes, that is not too much egg.)

Put the flour in a mound on the table and make a well in the center. Put the rest of the ingredients in the well and start mixing them together. When a proper dough has formed, knead it for about 5 minutes. Wrap it in plastic film (or put into a covered bowl) and let it rest for at least 15 minutes -- half an hour is even better, and 2 hours is not too long. This rest is to allow the flour to absorb the liquid. The dough will be far easier to work with if you rest it.

Assuming you have a pasta machine, cut the dough into two or more pieces and run it through. The first few times through, fold the dough on itself and and keep running through the number 1 setting until you have a smooth dough (three or four times should do). Then increase the setting and run it through each one. Number 6 should probably be the last setting.

If you do not have a pasta machine, take out the rolling pin and start rolling. You want to end up with dough so thin you can see through it. Cut it into strips the length of the baking tin and about 3-4 inches wide.

Put a large pot (I have a four liter one which works well) of water on to boil. Have a largish bowl of ice water next to the stove. (I can easily run through a dozen or two of ice cubes in doing this.) When it has come to the boil, add one to two tablespoons of salt. Put in four to six pieces of pasta at a time to cook, which will take 30 seconds to a minute. After it is cooked, put it in the ice water to shock it. Drain it (I have a cotton tablecloth made of what is essentially thin canvas which does this very well.)

While the dough is resting, make some tomato sauce -- here is a recipe from the same cookbook which is both quick and easy:

28 oz (800 gm) can of peeled or diced tomatoes
1 small carrot, peeled and halved lengthwise
1 small onion, peeled and halved lengthwise
1 small celery stalk, cleaned and halved
1 sprig fresh parsely, rinsed
3 basil leaves, rinsed
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste

Run the tomatoes through a food mill and discard the seeds. If you do not have a food mill, purée the tomatoes. Combine the ingredients in a pot and simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Taste -- if the sauce is too acidic, add pinches of sodium bicarbonate and simmer for another five minutes.

At this point, you have two choices. You can either fish out the aromatic vegetables and discard. Or you can purée the lot. The first gives you a sauce with a really nice red color. The second gives you an orangish sauce with (IMHO) a better flavor.

While the sauce is simmering and the dough is resting, make the filling:

12 oz (350 gm) ricotta
1 large egg
1/4 tsp black pepper (I assume that, like civilized people, you grind your own)
1/4 tsp nutmeg (also best if you grate your own)
1 oz (30 gm) grated Parmigano Reggiano or Perorino Romano or Asiago or some combination
Zest of 1/2 small lemon

Beat the ricotta with a fork until it is creamy. Add the other ingredients and mix until smooth. (This also makes a nice filling for ravioli or tortellini.)

You are now ready to assemble the cannelloni. Before you start, grate another two ounces of Parmigano Reggiano (or whichever hard cheese you used for the filling) and cut 8 oz fresh mozarella into 1/4-inch (5 mm) cubes.

Using a piping bag or a spoon, place two tablespoons of the filling along the long end of each piece of pasta. Roll up the pasta and place it into the baking tin. Continue doing this until you run out of pasta or filling or space in the baking tin. Dot each cannellono with the mozzarella cubes, ladle the sauce over each of the cannellini, and spread the grated cheese on top.

You can now freeze this (cover it with plastic wrap or foil and add an additional 15 minutes to the cooking time), store it in the fridge for cooking later that day, or cook it right now. When you are ready to cook it, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 C) and cook it for half an hour.

I just discovered that someone adapted this recipe for lasagna and posted it on-line at http://divvyupdining.blogspot.com/2012/07/summer-lemon-zest-lasagna-is-that.html

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: Suburban Chicago
Home country: UK
Current location: Suburban Chicago
Member since: Thu Apr 12, 2012, 09:54 AM
Number of posts: 4,473

About Fortinbras Armstrong

Retired computer security expert/programmer. Married for 40 years, three sons, two dogs. Interested in history, music, religion -- mostly Catholic -- and cooking. MA in History of Religion (Harvard) and MS in Computer Science (U of Wisconsin).
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