Homemade Stromboli

16 10 2010

This is my favorite quick end-of-a-LONNGGG-day-at-work-and-I-want-something-tasty-and-filling-but-have-very-little-energy-or-motivation recipes. With premade dough for sale at most local supermarkets (or if you have the foresight to make your own pizza dough and have it at the ready in your fridge at all times), strombolis take a surprisingly little amount of time.

stromboli


Ingredients:stromboli 1

•pizza dough
•1/3 cup tomato sauce
•1/3 cup mozzarella cheese
•large pinch romano cheese
•your favorite pizza toppings
•extra virgin olive oil

Toppings included in picture above:

•Italian style Smart Sausages
•green bell pepper
•red onion
•black olives


Directions:

stromboli 21. Pre-heat oven to 450º F.
2. After letting the dough sit out to get to room temperature, divide into two equal parts and form 1 section into a ball. Stretch out to a 10-12” circle, using a plate or cutting board to help hold its form.
3. Spread the sauce in a rectangle shape along the middle and then add the toppings and cheese on top. The amounts listed above are for 1 stromboli and are only recommendations – I like mine pretty saucy and cheesy.
stromboli 44. Wrap the longer sides around the ingredients to connect in the middle. Fold the smaller ends up to close off the ends.
5. Lightly spread olive oil over the outside of the stromboli.
6. Place the stromboli on a baking sheet and bake 15 minutes, or until it is thoroughly cooked and the outside is golden brown.


Tips:

•While jarred sauce is quick and easy, this is still a great opportunity to use your homemade sauce (including my tomato sauce and basil walnut pesto). Also, if you like white pizza, try just using some melted butter, olive oil and tons of minced garlic.
•To zest up your stromboli, you can sprinkle various ingredients on the outside before you bake it. Think of it like a bagel – sesame seeds, poppy seeds, romano or asiago cheese, fresh cracked black pepper, garlic powder, dried onion, even mimic an everything bagel…
•This dish is definitely ideal for your pizza stone, if you have one. But if not, a nice dark cookie sheet works fine. It needs to cook fairly quickly on a high heat.


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Basil & Walnut Pesto

6 10 2010

pestoAfter a longgg summer of waiting, I finally grew enough basil (from seed – [cheer!]) to make a batch of homemade pesto. So, of course, I did! I used walnuts not just for their flavor (I do really like the flavor), but also because I always seem to have tons of walnuts on hand and pine nuts can be so darn expensive!


Ingredients:

pesto 1•4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
•1 cup compacted fresh basil
•6 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
•3 Tbs shredded romano cheese
•3 Tbs raw walnuts
•pinch of kosher salt
•1 tsp fresh ground pepper


Directions:
pesto 2
1. Place all ingredients in food processor.
2. Pulse to start chopping and incorporating the ingredients.
3. Blend until you have a fine, pesto consistency. May take a minute or two once it gets going.
4. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.


Recommended Serving Instructions:

Use this however you want! Great as a spread, on pizza, with pasta, mix with mayo for sandwiches or cream cheese for bagels, mix into your eggs… the options are literally endless!






Easy, Cheesy, Cream Sauce

27 07 2010

gnocchi and cheeseThis recipe is my standard go-to for when I crave something creamy and rich. I just whip up this sauce and add it to pasta with some fresh veggies, or make a quick and easy mac n’ cheese. The great thing about this sauce is that (in terms of cream sauce), it’s relatively not bad for you. It is thick and rich and tasty, but predominantly low-fat milk with a little butter, oil and cheese.

Sundried tomato gnocchi in cream sauce pictured above.


Ingredients:

•2 Tbs butter
•1 Tbs olive oil
•3 cloves of garlic, minced
•2 Tbs flour
•1/2 cup parmesan cheese
•2 1/2 cups low-fat milk
•4 large leaves of fresh basil, finely chopped (plus extra for garnish)
•salt and pepper to taste


Directions:

cheese sauce1. In a large saucepan, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat.
2. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
3. Combine flour and heat for 3 minutes (stirring constantly), until it forms a golden brown paste.
4. Stir in parmesan until it begins to melt.
5. Begin slowly adding milk, whisking constantly from now on. Begin with just a splash, then up to 1/2 a cup at a time. After each addition, keep whisking and wait to add more until sauce is heated again and slightly thickened.
6. After all milk is added, reduce heat to medium-low and add basil and salt and pepper to taste (you won’t need much salt at all).


Recommended Serving Instructions:

While the sauce is still warm and over the burner, add your favorite cooked pasta (or sundried tomato gnocchi – pictured above). Mix until evenly coated and heated. Immediately serve and sprinkle with some fresh basil and/or cracked black pepper. If you add macaroni, ziti, penne (or any other similar tube pasta) you can then place in a baking dish and make a delicious, white, baked mac n’ cheese. Sprinkle the top with more parmesan and/or bread crumbs, cover with foil, and bake at 400º F for about 20 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake until the top is browned to your liking.


Tips:

•Try mixing this up by replacing the parmesan cheese with some other kind of cheese (chevre, brie, gorgonzola, etc.). Just be conscious of the fact that you may need to alter the amount of cheese you add depending on the kind. If you add a stronger cheese (gorgonzola), you may need less, or if you use a more mild cheese (chevre), you may need more.
•A little goes a long way! You’ll find you just need to lightly coat your pasta with this sauce, so you’ll likely have leftovers. That’s fine – it keeps relatively well. Just refrigerate or freeze in plastic containers, or even jar it.






Tomato Sauce

24 07 2010

tomato sauceHere is an old family recipe for tomato sauce. I sure hope my family doesn’t mind me posting this, but it’s so delicious and straight-forward, I just want to share it with everyone! The key here is to use the best ingredients you can find, and to cook it slowly. It will pay off with large amounts of tasty sauce that you can use for all sorts of dishes!


Ingredients:

•2 28-oz. cans whole tomatoes
•2 15-oz. cans tomato sauce
•1 small can tomato paste
•2 Tbs parsley
•1 Tbs oregano
•1/2 tsp anise
•salt and pepper to taste
•2 Tbs olive oil
•4 garlic cloves, minced


Directions:

tomato sauce 11. In a large blender or food processor, blend all canned tomato products, parsley, oregano and anise. Don’t over-blend, you will want to keep some body (this shouldn’t be super chunky, but you don’t want a runny, thin sauce either).
2. Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add and sauté the garlic until it starts to brown.
3. Add the blended sauce to the pan and bring to a simmer. Simmer on low heat for at least 30 minutes, stirring often. Be sure not to let the sauce boil.


Recommended Serving Instructions:

This sauce is great by itself on any pasta dish. I also particularly like making this sauce for delicious, real homemade lasagna or baked ziti. It brings a nice, fresh, bold flavor to these dishes that you just can’t get with jarred sauces.


Tips:

•The sauce gets better the longer you let it simmer and the longer it sits. If you aren’t sure you can get a good hour of simmer time (or more), you will likely want to make the sauce ahead of time.
•This sauce freezes really well. Whenever I make it, I often double the recipe (note – this already makes a hefty portion!) and freeze several large containers worth.
•This was originally meant to be a meat sauce (used to simmer meatballs, bracciole, sausage, pork ribs, etc.). As a vegetarian, I have found that the sauce really does work on its own. However, particularly because of the anise, it lends itself nicely to masking (or complementing) fake meats. I once made a great lasagna with fake meatballs and Italian sausage that was quite “meaty.”
•If at all possible, use jarred tomatoes instead of canned. The combination of the acidity in the tomatoes and the chemicals in the can is apparently a very bad one. I have a hard time finding it, so still use canned most of the time, but try to find jarred, jar some yourself, or try to find organic canned tomatoes that were just recently canned.






Sundried Tomato Gnocchi

22 07 2010

I’ve never gotten into the whole make-your-own-pasta thing. But here’s one pasta I will make over and over again. The recipe is easy, malleable and produces delicious (non-traditional) gnocchi! Instead of waiting for potatoes to cook and using a special flour, you just have to purchase a container of ricotta and use the all-purpose flour you have sitting in your cupboard.

This is from yet another great recipe from the amazing BrokeAss Gourmet.

gnocchi


Ingredients:

•1 1/3 cup ricotta
•16 sundried tomatoes (from a jar), chopped
•1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
•2 1/2 cups flour
•2 egg yolks
•3 garlic cloves
•salt


Directions:

1. In a large bowl, mix ricotta, sundried tomatoes, parmesan, flour, yolks, garlic and a pinch of salt.
2. Mix until a sticky dough forms, adding more flour if/as necessary.
gnocchi 13. Turn out dough onto a floured surface roll into 4 or 5 long snakes, about 3/4 inches to 1 inch thick.
4. Cut into 1 inch pieces.
5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a light boil and add gnocchi. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until gnocchi floats to the surface.
6. Drain and serve with your favorite sauce.


Recommended Serving Instructions:

This gnocchi has a great flavor in and of itself, so you don’t want to serve it with anything overpowering. My favorite is what you see in the picture at the top. Sauté 2 cloves of garlic in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for a minute or two. Add the cooked gnocchi and pan-fry over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes, until the edges start to brown. Add 1/2 a pint of grape tomatoes (cut into halves), 2 cups of fresh spinach, and salt and pepper to taste. Sauté until the tomatoes start to soften and the spinach is wilted. Remove from the heat, sprinkle with a little parmesan and serve immediately.

This is also good in a simple cheesy cream sauce (think: most filling, rich, tasty pasta dish EVER). Also, a great appetizer is to take some cooked gnocchi, pan-fry in olive oil until the edges are caramelized, and serve as an appetizer with toothpicks and a tomato dipping sauce.


Tips:

•I liked the idea of having a couple bites of pure sundried tomatoes in my gnocchi, so I opted not to use the food processor and to just mix by hand (chopping the sundried tomatoes somewhat small beforehand). It was also for this reason that I opted to use jarred sundried tomatoes over dry ones. The recipe didn’t specify, but I would recommend this just to have the added moisture.
•My first inclination was to add all sorts of spices and herbs into the gnocchi. I did finally opt for some garlic. But there are two main takeaways here. 1) You can really mold this into whatever you want. Replace sundried tomatoes with some other flavorful veggie or herb (perhaps roasted garlic?). 2) Just be careful not to overdo it. It is, afterall, pasta – something that is normally basically flour and salt. One or two additional flavors is enough, and the more simple you make it, the more different things you can do with it once it is made.