Vegan Three “Cheese” & Alfredo Lasagna with Power Greens (Kale, Chard & Spinach)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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This lasagna is delicious & 100% vegan.  I made three kinds of vegan “cheese” for this.  You can make the cheeses yourself (they are all very easy) or buy vegan pre-made varieties.  I used three kinds of sauce, a cup of leftover homemade, the remnants of a jar of Rao’s marinara & a little more than a cup of Rao’s Arrabbiata – my favorite jarred sauce.  You can use all homemade or all from a jar – or mix it up – as I did.

I used red chard, kale & spinach.  You can use any combination of greens that you prefer.  I used cheddar cauliflower, because I had it, but regular cauliflower is just as good (it just has less vitamin A).  I used the sort of lasagna that needs to be cooked in advance – mainly because I noticed the no-cook kind had egg in them.  You can use your favorite vegan lasagna noodles.

I am going to post the three cheeses first.  You can choose to make any or all of them.

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Best Fast & Easy Vegan Mozzarella (above) – for Melting & Grating – recipe is HERE.

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Vegan Herbed Tofu “Ricotta”

INGREDIENTS

1 lb extra firm tofu

1 TBS olive oil

1 tsp garlic powder

1-3 TBS mixed chopped fresh herbs (I used thyme & sage)

1 tsp each salt & pepper

1 TBS dry parsley

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DIRECTIONS

Crumble the tofu & mix in the other ingredients.  Set aside.

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Vegan “Parmesan”

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used panko)

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (pepita) – I used roasted & salted because I could not find raw – but raw will work, too

2 TBS nutritional yeast

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp dry thyme

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DIRECTIONS

I think it would be ideal to grind these ingredients together in a spice mill – but I don’t have one.  You might get a finer result.  I used my food processor & ran it a few minutes.  The pumpkin seeds were not totally ground – but I went with it anyway.

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Vegan Three “Cheese” & Alfredo Lasagna with Power Greens (Kale, Chard & Spinach)

Makes a standard lasagna

INGREDIENTS

1 lb lasagna noodles – cooked as directed

3 cups pasta sauce of your choice

2+ cups vegan mozzarella – grated

for the power greens

1 head kale – ribs removed & chopped

1 head chard – ribs removed & chopped

2 cups spinach

1 cup fresh basil

4 garlic cloves – minced

1/4 onion – diced

1/4 cup vegan Parmesan

Olive oil

for the alfredo

1 head cauliflower – cut into florets

1 cup vegetable stock or water

2 TBS vegan butter

5 garlic cloves – minced

3/4 cup vegan Parmesan

GARNISH – chopped basil or arugula leaves or parsley

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DIRECTIONS

Cook the pasta & drain.

for the alfredo

Boil the cauliflower (maybe even boil it in vegetable stock) until very soft.  Drain (I reserved 1 cup of the water I boiled the cauliflower in).

Melt the butter & saute the garlic for one minute.

In a blender or food processor – blend the cauliflower, stock (or water) butter & garlic, vegan Parmesan & a bit of S&P until very smooth.  Set aside.

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for the power greens

Heat a TBS or 2 in a large saute pan & heat the onion until soft.  Add the garlic & kale, chard & spinach & heat just until the greens wilt.

In a food processor (not a necessary step – but it prevents large & hard to bite pieces of greens in your lasagna that can flop, hot, out of a bite you are taking & burn you – or just make a mess) – pulse the hot greens, the basil, and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan.  Set aside.

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for the lasagna

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large lasagna pan, put about 1 cup of sauce on the bottom & then layer noodles.  The rest of the layering can be random & at your discretion – but here is the order I used.  I topped the noodles with half the “ricotta,” half the “alfredo,” then noodles, then all the greens, noodles, remaining “ricotta,” cup or more of sauce, noodles, remaining “alfredo,” noodles, remaining sauce & mozzarella.

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Bake for about 45 minutes or until well heated.  I would say “or until cheese melts,” but many vegan cheeses do not truly melt.  So – just eyeball it until you think it seems done.

I stacked two pieces on top of each other for photos & you could do this, too, for an impressive presentation.  Or not.  Your call.  Garnish with basil or arugula or parsley.  Devour!

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Arugula and Ricotta Cream Pizza with Heirloom Tomatoes and Herbs

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Yesterday, I posted my Arugula, Ricotta, Cream Cheese and Parmesan Pie with Heirloom Tomatoes – seen above.

I found myself with a bit of extra arugula-ricotta cream & some extra tomatoes – so I made this pizza.

Because I used extra ricotta from the pie recipe – I don’t really have details on the ingredients needed for such a small amount – but I will try to approximate.

It was a lovely & mild pizza but I added tons of crushed red pepper flakes once it was cooked – as you can see below.   I added fresh basil & thyme – primarily because I had them.  Rosemary & fresh oregano would be nice, too.

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Arugula and Ricotta Cream Pizza with Heirloom Tomatoes and Herbs

INGREDIENTS

Pizza dough – I always make THIS but your favorite dough will work

Heirloom (or other) tomatoes – sliced thin, salted a bit & pressed between paper towels to reduce moisture

Fresh herbs (I used thyme & basil but rosemary and/or oregano might be nice, too)

Grated cheese (I used mozzarella)

1/2 cup fresh arugula

1 clove garlic

4 oz fresh ricotta (or vegan alternative)

1 oz cream cheese – optional (or vegan alternative)

S&P

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 450-500 degrees.

Sliced & drain the tomatoes (sprinkled with salt) between paper towels.

Puree the ricotta, arugula, garlic & cream cheese (if using) in a blender or food processor.  Season with salt & pepper.

Roll out the dough.  Place it on a cooking sheet either treated with olive oil or cooking spray of covered in parchment paper.

Top it with a thin layer of the ricotta cream, some grated cheese & then the tomatoes.  Season with S&P.

Bake for 8-12 minutes or until your crust is done & the tomatoes look a bit seared.

Garnish with fresh herbs.  Reflect on how nice it is to eat pizza made at home & NOT be at a fucking food court in a holiday-crazed mall.  Continue eating the entire pizza.

FTW!

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Roasted Pumpkin Lasagna with Red Chard and Fried Sage Bechamel (with Homemade Pumpkin Puree)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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This recipe requires a few steps but all are pretty easy & the result is an impressive crowd pleaser.  I roasted a couple of pumpkins myself but you could use canned pumpkin with little change in the result.  The only real difference is that canned pumpkin doesn’t come with seeds & I am going to post a roasted pumpkin seed recipe next & they are SO FRIGGING YUMMY – you will definitely be missing out if you do not try them.

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Roasted Pumpkin Lasagna with Red Chard and Fried Sage Bechamel (with Homemade Pumpkin Puree)

INGREDIENTS

1/2 – 1 lb lasagna noodles (I used about 10-12 noodles)

3 cups pumpkin puree (recipe for homemade is below)

16 oz ricotta cheese

1 bunch red chard (or rainbow or green chard or kale) – thick ribs cut out

1-2 TBS crushed red pepper (optional)

1+ cups grated Parmesan

1+ cups grated mozzarella

S&P

for the bechamel

4 cups milk (I used almond milk)

7 TBS butter

6 TBS flour

1 large bunch of fresh sage

Pinch of nutmeg

S&P

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cook the lasagna noodles for about half the time recommended for them to be al dente and – being sure to reserve the boiling water – scoop them out & run cold water over them in a colander.  Maybe toss with a touch of olive oil to be sure they don’t get sticky.

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Plunge the greens you are using into the hot water & let them sit 2-3 minutes.  Drain & chop them & set aside.

Melt 1 TBS of the butter in a small saute pan & fry the sage leaves for about 1 minute of med-high heat.  Do not brown it.  Drain the sage on a paper towel & set aside.

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Melt the remaining 6 TBS butter in the same pan in which you fried the sage (to take advantage of all the lovely sage flavor) & then transfer it into a stock pot large enough to hold 5 cups of milk.

Set the heat at med-low & whisk in the flour.  Keep whisking until the mixture smells nutty & takes on the color of light sand – about 6-7 minutes.

Meanwhile – in another pot – warm the milk but do not boil it.  Add the milk to the flour & butter roux – one cup at a time – and whisk until smooth & thick.  Reserve a few sage leaves for garnish & then crumble the rest into the bechamel.  Bring to a boil – whisking the entire time.  In 5-10 minutes – remove from heat, add some S&P and the nutmeg & set aside.

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To make assembly easier – I blended the ricotta & pumpkin puree in my food processor.  This isn’t necessary but ricotta tends to be thick & hard to spread so blending it with the puree makes spreading easier & assures an even distribution.

Treat a small lasagna pan with cooking spray & assemble the lasagna.  Put 1/4 of the sage bechamel in the bottom of the pan & top with a layer of noodles.  Layer 1/2 of the ricotta & pumpkin & top with 1/2 of the greens & a sprinkling of crushed red pepper.  Add another 1/4 of the bechamel & another layer of noodles.  Top this with the other 1/2 of the pumpkin/ricotta and the other 1/2 of the greens.  Add more crushed red pepper – if you like – and maybe some S&P.  Add another 1/4 of the bechamel & another layer of noodles.  Top with the rest of the bechamel & spread the Parmesan & mozzarella on top.  Garnish with a few sage leaves.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling & beginning to brown.  Let the lasagna rest about ten minutes & then start hacking into it & shoving it into your pie hole.  Mmmmmm!  Autumn!

Oh!  And in the interest of full disclosure – the pictures I used here of the lasagna on a plate is really TWO pieces of lasagna stacked on top of each other.  You can do this when you serve it – if the deeper lasagna appeals to you visually.

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Homemade Roasted Pumpkin Puree

INGREDIENTS

Fresh pumpkin (I used two small pie pumpkins & got about 4 cups of puree from them)

Water

S&P

DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cut the tops off & then pumpkins in half (or quarter them, if your pumpkin is large), seed them (keeping the seeds for roasting!  I will post a recipe for that next) & roast for about 40-50 minutes or until the skin is soft & the meat is fork tender.

Let them cool a bit & then scoop out the meat & puree in a food processor or blender.  I added about 1 cup of water to mine to thin it enough to blend.  Add a bit of S&P.

This puree is REALLY good for dogs & can be a miracle cure for doggy diarrhea if you add some to their food.  Just FYI.

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Zucchini Squash Blossom White Pizza with Goat Cheese and Ricotta and Mozzarella

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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vromans back

My favorite place on Earth, Super King, carries unusual & seasonal produce & now is the season for zucchini blossoms.  I LOVE ZUCCHINI BLOSSOMS!  Almost irrationally.   They have a flavor so subtle as no almost be indiscernible & easily overwhelmed.  They are most frequently served stuffed, breaded & fried but that is just so unhealthy – I can bring myself to do it anymore.

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So – I made this pizza – because I had leftover, homemade dough & just felt like pizza.  Does anyone ever NOT feel like pizza?  I blended the goat cheese with an equal part ricotta in an effort to add subtle flavor but nothing so strong it overwhelmed the zucchini blossoms.  This is a very delicately flavored & mild pizza.  Pretty to look at & yummy to eat.

I also used the last bit I had of this shitty grated cheese.  A fresh mozzarella is infinitely more desirable.  PLEASE use some of that instead.

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Zucchini Squash Blossom White Pizza with Goat Cheese and Ricotta and Mozzarella

INGREDIENTS

Pizza dough (I make THIS in my bread machine & use it over several days)

Zucchini blossoms

Goat cheese

Ricotta cheese

FRESH mozzarella cheese

Chives and/or micro greens as garnish

S&P

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 450-475.

The amount of cheese you want it up to you but I mixed equal parts goat & ricotta & then added a bit of S&P to that.

Carefully, snip out the pistol with scissors or by pinching with your fingers.  The pistol is the nubby thing growing out of the center of the flowers.  Pinch off the stems.  Don’t worry if they tear.

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Now – just assemble your pizza.  I have really come to love parchment paper.  Nothing really sticks to it & it is nice to photograph, as well.  Anyway – get your pizza pan out & spray it with cooking spray or line it with parchment.

Roll the dough out & put it on the cooking sheet.  Then – assemble.  I started with my bullshit grated mozzarella.  You should use fresh stuff (the sort sold in water), if you can.  I added some blossoms, randomly, & dolloped the whole thing with the ricotta/goat cheese blend.  I cooked it about 12 minutes but you cook it until it looks done to your liking.

Garnish with snipped chives or micro greens & maybe more S&P.  Mmmmmmmmmm!!!!

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Egg Wonton Ravioli with Arugula & Ricotta

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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These are pretty easy to pull off, despite the fragility of the eggs.  You could do these ravioli with proper pasta dough but wonton wrappers really do work in a pinch.   I used small round ones.  I do not recommend that.  I’d go square & either leave them square or use a cookie cutter or rim of a glass to cut them round.  These round wrappers were pretty small & left little room for error – especially as the tight squeeze threatened to rupture the egg.

These could be made with any filling at all.  Anything.  I used an arugula & ricotta mix but spinach or goat cheese or sweet potato or whatever would work.  This recipe would make about 6-10 ravioli, depending how large you go.   While this recipe only shows a ravioli made with egg – my recommendation is that you only make one egg ravioli per person & make the rest just stuffed with whatever else you are using.   The egg adds a great creaminess but an egg in every ravioli might get overwhelming.  If the egg grosses you out – blow it off completely.  Or – maybe consider just making one of these per person – as an appetizer.

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Egg Wonton Ravioli with Arugula & Ricotta

(for two)

INGREDIENTS

Wonton skins (12-24 – depending on how large you make them)

2 eggs

2 cups arugula

4 garlic cloves

Olive oil

1/4 cup ricotta

1/2 cup Parmesan

S&P to taste

Parmesan, olive oil & parsley – as garnish

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DIRECTIONS

Heat a TBS or two of olive oil in a pan.  Add the garlic for about 30 seconds & then the arugula for about another 30 seconds until wilted.  Puree the arugula with the ricotta & Parmesan in a food processor or chop the arugula & mix well with the cheeses in a bowl.   Add S&P to taste.

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Lay out some wonton skins.  Put a small amount of the arugula mix on the wontons.  Create a well in two of them to accommodate & secure the egg yolks.  Crack an egg & separate the yolks & whites – reserving the whites in a bowl.  Carefully place the yolks into the little wells you created.  Whisk the whites a bit & brush the edges of the wontons with it.  Top with another wonton, carefully squeezing the edges sealed while also trying to work out any excess air pockets.  My ravioli were so tight, I had to pinch them with my fingers & really manhandle the whole thing but, if you were listening, you got larger wontons & you have some room to spare.  Fork tines might work to seal the edges, in that case.

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Boil water & lower the heat so the boil isn’t so intense that it assaults (and breaks) your ravioli.  Boil about 3 minutes for the egg ones – three to four minutes for the others.  Carefully remove with a slotted spoon & place on plates – serving each person one of the eggy ravioli.  Top with a drizzle of olive oil, some grated Parmesan, some chopped parsley & some freshly ground pepper.  Serve immediately!  Use some nice bread to sop up any leftover cheesy egg mixture.  Rejoice!

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Spaghetti and Ricotta-Stuffed Roasted Eggplant Polpette (Meatballs) with Spicy Tomato Vodka Sauce

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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OK, admittedly, this one has a few steps but none are difficult & this dish is incredibly delicious.  In the interest of full disclosure – I must confess where my inspiration for this dish came from.  It came from a recipe in the Dallas News – that was accompanied by this picture below:

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I thought that was so pretty that I had to try it.  Their recipe used frozen meatballs & jarred vodka & pesto sauces.  I made the sauce from scratch.  They used fancy skewers that had black balls decorating the tops.  I used black olives – as they seemed to go very well with my eggplant polpette and I had no fancy skewers handy.  They also used angel hair pasta while I used whole wheat spaghetti.  In retrospect – angel hair is probably easier to wrap around skewers but I don’t imagine most of you will be attempting this presentation.  You should just go for this one:

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So – while you need to make the sauce (easy) and the eggplant mash (easy) and the ricotta stuffing (easy) – I am guessing you will find it all worthwhile – especially as this recipe makes about a dozen “meatballs” that were all nearly the size of a pool ball.  That would feed 4 easily – maybe even 6 – if you made more than a pound of pasta.  I opted to fry my polpette but they can also be baked (for 30 minutes or so at 350 – or until they are brown & just begin to turn crusty) if you are worried about calories (as I should be).

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Spaghetti and Ricotta-Stuffed Roasted Eggplant Polpette (Meatballs) with Spicy Tomato Vodka Sauce

INGREDIENTS

For the sauce

1 (28 oz) can of crushed tomatoes (or tomato sauce)

1 TBS olive oil

1 small onion – diced

4 cloves garlic – chopped

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (or to taste)

1/2 cup vodka

1/3 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup chopped parsley

S&P to taste

For the eggplant polpette

2 small eggplants

1 egg

4 cloves garlic – chopped

1/2 cup parsley – chopped

1/3 cup basil – chopped

1 cup grated Parmesan

2 cups (or so) breadcrumbs

Vegetable oil for frying (or bake them at 350 for about 25 minutes)

Filling

1 cup ricotta

1/3 cup grated mozzarella

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

1 TBS parsley – chopped

S&P to taste

1 lb whole wheat spaghetti (or other pasta)

If making skewers – you need skewers & a few pitted black olives

Fresh basil and/or parsley – chopped – as garnish

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Halve the eggplants & roast them, cut side down, for about 20-25 minutes or until they soften & begin to wrinkle.  Remove from the oven & allow to cool a bit.

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For the sauce – heat the olive oil in a stock pot.  Cook the onions & crushed red pepper until the onions soften.  Add the garlic & saute about a minute.

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Add the vodka and cook for a minute or two to cook off the alcohol a bit.  Add the canned tomatoes & the parsley.

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Simmer for about fifteen minutes.  At this point – I used an immersion blender & smoothed the sauce a lot.  You can do this, too, or do it in a blender or even leave the sauce with more texture.  Stir in the heavy cream & allow to simmer on very low heat.

In a bowl, mix the ingredients for the ricotta filling.

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In a food processor or blender, blend everything for the polpette except the eggplant and breadcrumbs.  When the other ingredients are chopped finely, scoop out the eggplant flesh & add it to the food processor.  Pulse until smooth.  Transfer to a bowl & add as much of the breadcrumbs (maybe less – maybe more) as you need to get a consistency that can be made into balls.

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To make the stuffed polpette, put the bowls of eggplant & stuffing near each other by the sink.  Wet your hands and scoop out some eggplant

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Create a little nest indentation & add some filling.  Top with more eggplant & create a little “meatball.”

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Mine started like golf balls but ended up more like pool balls.  Do this until the eggplant is gone.  I ended up with extra filling left over.  You may or may not – depending on how much you fill your polpette.  Try to patch any spots you see with filler peeking out with more eggplant.  If the filling seeps out while you fry them – they just get a little harder to manage in the oil & you risk them sticking to the pan or falling apart.

Bake them at 350 for 20-30 minutes or until golden & beginning to crisp.  OR – heat about 1/2 inch of oil & shallow fry them until they are golden brown or darker – all over.  Scoop out with a slotted spoon & drain on a paper towel.  If you like, you can put them in a warm (200 degrees) oven to keep them hot.

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Cook the pasta according to directions.

You can warm the polpette more by dropping them into the hot vodka sauce a few minutes before serving.

Serve pasta topped with sauce & a few polpette & garnish with chopped fresh basil and/or parsley.

Or – if you are feeling ambitious, wrap a few strands of pasta around a few skewers & stand the skewer up in a “meatball.”  Place that skewered meatball on a little pool of sauce.  Cap your spaghetti & skewer tip with pitted black olives & garnish with basil & parsley.  Brag at the water cooler tomorrow!

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Kale, Mushroom & Ricotta Open-Faced Quesadilla Pizza with Roasted Tomatoes & Feta

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

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These pizzas or open-faced quesadillas are the easiest thing ever & they cook up really fast – so it leaves time to get fancy with your toppings.  Not that roasting tomatoes or sauteing kale are complicated adventures but they are extra steps beyond a simple sauce & cheese (for pizza) or solomente cheese – in the case of quesadillas.   The quantity of the ingredients for these gets difficult to define as everyone likes a different level of cheese & ratio of vegetables etc.  What I can say is that a head of kale wilts down to a quantity likely to be sufficient for 3-4 of these medium-sized tortillas.  I can’t be sure because I kept eating it out of the pan while I waited for the tomatoes to roast.  I roasted a few grape tomatoes & one Roma – for no other reason than those were the ones that needed cooking most urgently.  At any rate, with pizza and quesadillas, there is really no proper recipe, but rather a suggestion of toppings & fillings.

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Kale, Mushroom & Ricotta Open-Faced Quesadilla Pizza with Roasted Tomatoes & Feta

INGREDIENTS

Tomatoes – cut into a large dice (cherry & grape tomatoes – halved)

Kale – ribs removed & chopped

Mushrooms (I used about 10-15 to a single head of kale) – sliced

Garlic (I used 3 cloves) – chopped

Crushed red pepper (I used about 1 tsp)

Olive oil

Ricotta cheese

Feta cheese

Tortillas

S&P to taste

DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Toss the tomatoes in a little olive oil & some S&P.  Roast them on a parchment paper-lined cooking sheet for about 20 minutes or until they go from A to B – as shown below.

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Set the tomatoes aside.

Remove the ribs from the kale & chop it.

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Heat about 1-2 TBS olive oil in a large pan.

Add the chopped garlic & saute about 30 seconds & then add the mushrooms and crushed red pepper.  Saute over med-high heat, stirring often, until they they begin to brown.  Add the kale & saute until it wilts – only a few minutes.

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Add S&P to taste.

Now – I added a step here where I baked the tortillas first before I topped them.  I had seen another recipe that suggested this so I tried it.  I am not really sure what it achieves.  They do puff & brown nicely – but then they get a little brittle for handling & the edges get too cooked after the final round of baking.  So – if you want to try it – simply poke them all over with a fork & put them on a greased cooking sheet in the 400 degree oven for about 6 minutes or until they come out like below.  Or – you can just start topping the tortilla raw & bake it up.

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Then simply slather a little ricotta on there.

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Add some of the kale-mushroom mix & the feta & the roasted tomatoes.

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Then – simply cook them up in a 400 degree oven for about 6 minutes or until it looks like mine below.  Divvy that shit up or eat it all yourself.  I ain’t judging.  🙂

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