Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Not Rachel Ray, But Well Worth The Extra Ten Minutes....

This week for Meatless Monday, we decided to see if we could back up Cynthia's words from her recent blog post and make a great meal without a lot of fuss and in a modest amount of time. Working together, without rushing, our plan was to make:

Three Cheese Ravioli with Garlic Scape Pesto and Baby Beets with their Sauteed Greens

Although we didn't quite enter into the Rachel Ray realm of 30 minutes, we did sit down to eat 40 minutes after we started, and it was well worth the extra 10 minutes!

Before you ask, no, we didn't make the ravioli from scratch. There are actually a few brands of packaged frozen ravioli available these days that are quite good. We used Rosetto Cheese Ravioli, available in many supermarkets. We did, however, grow the beets and the garlic scapes used in making the pesto. 

If you're unfamiliar with garlic scapes, they are  the flower stalks of hardneck garlic plants that produce a "bulb" that is both edible and delicious. It has a definite garlic flavor but is typically milder that the actual garlic. Here they are, next to the baby beets and their greens that we used for this recipe.

Here is a quick "timeline" of how it went down.

6:00 - Big pot of water onto boil, toaster oven on 425 F to preheat, shelled 1/3 cup of pistachios, grated 1/3 cup parmigiano cheese.

6:05 - Blender/food processor set up, pistachios into toaster oven

6:10 - Clean beets and greens and prep an ice bath (simply a bowl of water with ice) to receive cooked beets and greens

 6:15 - Beets into boiling water for approx 5 mins (remember, these are baby beets and don't need a long cooking time -- and leaving them with a little crunch adds to the finished dish)

6:20 - Beet greens into boiling water for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, literally, no longer, beets and greens into ice bath to stop the cooking process and hold the colors
6:20 - Grrrrrrrrrr, discard first batch of pistachios (forgot them and they burned), shell 1/3 cup more, back into toaster oven, paying more attention this time.

6:25 - Make pesto by adding scapes, toasted nuts, olive oil and parmigiano cheese to blender. Blend until smooth.
6:25 - Drop ravioli into boiling water used for beets and greens. Cook 5-7 minutes (or per package instructions)

6:32 - Drain pasta water, reserving 1 cup, leaving ravioli in the pot. Add pesto and that cup of pasta water back. Add beet greens. On medium heat, gently stir to combine and heat thoroughly. 

6:40 - Plate ravioli , add grated parmigiano cheese to taste nd garnish with baby beets. Serve while hot!

Just goes to show that you can get a pretty spectacular plate to the table in 40 minutes. Sure, there were two of us, but getting someone else involved is half the fun. Yes the burnt pistachios set us back a few minutes, but don't let those kind of setbacks kill the fun. Just fix it and move on.

A little hint: you can use almost anything to make a pesto, parsley, basil, broccoli, etc. The pistachios can traded out for other nuts. Experiment, don't feel like you can't put your own touch into it. Good proportions to begin your pesto quest are 1/3 cup main ingredient, garlic scapes in this case, 1/3c nuts, 1/3c good parmigiano reggiano (or any good hard grating cheese), 1/3c EVOO.  If using anything but garlic scapes, add a couple of cloves of garlic.  This will yield a fairly thick paste that turns into a beautiful sauce with the addition of a couple scoops of your pasta cooking water. 

P.S. Cynthia still thinks we could have done it in 30 minutes.


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