Pasta Recipes


Homemade Ravioli with Spinach and Ricotta Cheese

I'm a big fan of Ravioli, so when I saw a chef on TV making them with Won Ton wraps instead of pasta dough, I didn't think they would taste very good. I tried them, and I'm happy to say I was wrong.

The Won Tons are the perfect size to make homemade ravioli. And, making them from scratch, you can use any ravioli filling you like. The sky's the limit.

Makes about 8 ravioli.

Ingredients:

1 cup of Ricotta cheese
1 Package of all-natural Won Ton wraps
4 to 5 handfuls of spinach
1/2 tsp. salt
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
1 tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup Mozzarella Cheese grated (optional)
Small saucer of water

Directions:

  1. Heat large pot of salted water
  2. Heat the olive oil in a pan.
  3. Add the garlic to the hot oil and sauté for a minute.
  4. Add the spinach. Cook spinach for a couple of minutes, or until limp. Remove from heat and let cool. Chop well.
  5. In a large bowl mix spinach, Ricotta, Mozzarella, and salt together.
  6. Add approximately 2 tbs. of the mixture to center of Won Ton square.
  7. With fingertip, wet the edges of the square with a little water.
  8. Add Won Ton to the top.
  9. Gently seal edges with finger tip. If you used enough water, and not too much filling, they should seal well.
  10. When done stuffing all the ravioli, add to boiling water.
  11. Boil for a couple of minutes, or until Ravioli rises to the surface. They cook faster than Ravioli made with Pasta. And, they're more delicate and tear easily, so handle with care.
  12. Drain and serve with butter and sage sauce, or a drizzle of marinara sauce.
  13. Of course, they don't taste exactly like homemade Ravioli made with pasta, but what a delicious, quick substitute for making them fresh.

Three Cheese, Vegetarian Lasagna Recipe

This is how my Sicilian mother made lasagna, except she used a meat sauce instead of the marinara sauce. It is well worth the time it takes to prepare and cook it.

Ingredients

1 lb. of lasagna
1 large ricotta (48 ounces or 5 cups)
1 fresh, whole-milk mozzarella ball (1 lb.) shredded
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 - 4 cups Marinara Sauce (see marinara sauce recipe)
Vegetarian Lasagna

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  2. Follow package directions to cook the pasta (salt the pasta water well). Once it's cooked, drain noodles in a colander. Do not run them under water. If you do this, you remove the starch from the pasta.
  3. Work quickly and handle the hot noodles carefully to avoid tears. If they do tear, just piece them together as you layer them.
  4. Coat the bottom of a rectangular baking pan with the Marinara Sauce. This will keep the bottom layer of noodles from sticking to the pan. If you want a crispy bottom layer, use Extra Virgin Olive Oil instead of sauce.
  5. Place your first layer of noodles. Slightly overlap noodles to cover the bottom.
  6. Place a layer of ricotta, sprinkle with grated mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
  7. Repeat until you reach the last layer of lasagna noodles. Top it with sauce and parmesan cheese only.
  8. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil and allow to cook for approximately 10 minutes more, or until top layer begins to brown.
  9. Let the lasagna sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. This allows the cheese to set.

I promise you that this Three Cheese, Vegetarian Lasagna Recipe will not disappoint you. As always, for best results use the freshest ingredients available.


Pasta with Fresh Baby Artichokes

The artichoke recipe below has only five ingredients, yet it's incredibly flavorful and delicious. This is a simple vegetarian recipe that's fast and easy. In fact, the most difficult part is cleaning the baby artichokes. (If cleaning and selecting artichokes is new to you, you'll learn how below the recipe.)

Ingredients

1/2 lb Spaghetti or your favorite pasta
6 Baby Artichokes cut in half
3 tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 large cloves of garlic - sliced or diced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (peperoncino)
3 tablespoons lemon juice in a bowl with water
Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Put up a large pot of well-salted water for the pasta.
  2. Clean and cut the baby artichokes (see instructions below). While cleaning, keep the cleaned artichokes in a bowl of water with lemon juice. This will keep the artichokes from oxidizing and turning brown.
  3. Add the olive oil and sliced garlic to a saucepan (if you're not a big garlic fan, you can take out the garlic before you add the pasta). Cook the garlic on low heat for approximately three or four minutes so that the oil picks up the garlic flavor.
  4. Turn heat up to medium and add the artichoke halves and red pepper flakes (peperoncino) Add salt and pepper to the artichokes. This is a good time to add the pasta to the boiling water.
  5. Once the artichokes are slightly brown, turn them over. The artichokes will only take a couple of minutes on each side. When cooked through they will be tender, and loose to the touch.
    If the pasta is not ready when the artichoke mixture is done, pull the pan off the heat to slow the cooking. Return to heat just before pasta is ready.
  6. Once the pasta is about a minute away from being cooked (slightly harder than al dente), strain it and add to the mixture over medium/low heat. Be sure to retain the pasta water.
  7. Add just enough pasta water to loosen up the sauce. Toss for a minute and then serve.

Option: This artichoke recipe is also good with some grated, parmesan cheese added to the top right before serving.

How to Clean Artichokes

artichoke-recipe Perfect Baby Artichokes

To clean, cut off the top, pointed section of the leaves, about one inch. Tear off the tough, outer leaves, approximately five to seven layer, until you get to the tender, light green leaves.

The stalk is also edible. Just peel it and cut off the tip. And, unlike the large artichokes, baby artichokes have no choke to remove so that you can eat the entire bottom.

How to Select Fresh Baby Artichokes

The outer leaves should be firm, thick, and tightly closed. They should not have blackened, wilted leaves or dark spots. If the leaves are spread apart or dry, these artichokes are past their prime and shouldn't be purchased.

Also, check the stem end for tiny holes. If there are holes, this shows that there's worm damage inside.

For this particular artichoke recipe, stick with fresh baby artichokes. I've tried it with both the jarred and frozen baby artichokes and was disappointed with the results.

How to Store Baby Artichokes

Store baby artichokes in the refrigerator in a plastic bag with a few drops of water for moisture. Don't clean them before storing.

Fresh baby artichokes can not be stored for more than five days.

Health Benefits of Artichokes

Artichokes are high in dietary fiber and are a good source of magnesium, chromium, vitamin C, folic acid, biotin, manganese, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin A, and potassium.

They contain protein, are cholesterol-free, and very low in calories and fat.


Pasta with Two Cheeses & Walnuts

I found this recipe in a vegetarian cookbook, Good Food Made Simple: Vegetarian (Love Food) I really wasn't shopping for a cookbook, but it caught my eye. The recipes look delicious, are simple to make and don't use a lot of ingredients. In fact, I already had most of the ingredients in my pantry. This is one of my favorites that I made for the holidays. I loved it and made it several times since. It's so easy to make that it's hard to believe how decadent it is.

Ingredients

12 ounces dried penne
2 cups fresh or frozen peas
2/3 cup vegetarian cream cheese with garlic and herbs
1 (6-ounce) package baby spinach leaves
1 cut diced vegetarian blue cheese
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
salt and pepper

I made this with different kinds of pastas; regular and whole wheat penne and with rigatoni (pictured above). Each version was great. I also used organic peas, spinach, and walnuts.

Directions

  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water. About a minute or two before the pasta is cooked, throw in the peas. I don’t cook the peas for more than a minute because I prefer them on the raw side.
  2. Before you drain the pasta and peas, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Drain and set aside.
  3. Return the pot to the heat and add 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water and cream cheese. Stir until the cheese is smooth.
  4. Remove from the heat and add the spinach, then the pasta with peas, blue cheese, and walnuts. Season with pepper and toss until well coated ( a couple of good tosses will do). Serve immediately.

This serves 4, but I've made it for two by simply cutting the ingredients in half.


References

Michael Murray, N.D., The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods


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