Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cool Curry

So of course I’m an avid Top Chef follower. I love it, even though some of the challenges – like hacking frozen packets of food out of ice blocks – showcase the cheftestants’ cooking abilities or food sourcing know-how less than if we sent them to reenact scenes from Psycho, or Housewives of New Jersey… and if you watched the reunion show you might have caught and enjoyed Peewee Herman’s outtake about his episode possibly being the ‘jump the shark’ Top Chef moment. Nevertheless, and Sarah’s ice pick inexperience notwithstanding, I heard something interesting when she competed in the fire and ice challenge and came up with a vegetarian, frozen curry idea. So I decided to make it the following week.

I know, Sarah is not well liked and I didn’t appreciate her Beverly bullying either, but 5 green stuffed pasta? It’s very rare to see a cook compete with a vegetable dish in a situation where it’s not required (turns out it’s not vegetarian, but easily could be). I also thought the idea of taking curry, which usually represents heat, and making it a semi-frozen element was interesting. As I watched the episode I really wished someone would bring me a plate of it, so off I went to the King George, VA stores in search of dandelion greens and the ever elusive flat-leaf parsley so I could follow her recipe here http://www.bravotv.com/foodies/recipes/dish-five-greens-filled-pasta-with-garlic-and-chili-and-spiced-sformato-cocktail-agrumi-gin-kumquat-and-mangonbspnbspnbspnbspnbspnbspnbspnbspnbsp

To no avail on the dandelion or flat-leaf, so I subbed around and went with swiss chard, spinach, baby arugula, basil and kale. I didn’t bother looking for burrata – I’d have to ask her why she used that. I would think any fresh mozzarella would be fine in a stuffed pasta with a lot of other ingredients. So I went with fresh buffalo mozzarella which, while not being free, is less expensive than burrata. I’ll save the burrata to have on its own with grilled bread and a mushroom salad. And ok, fine, with Oregon pinot noir.

After subbing on greens and the cheese, I also cut back on the over all amount of cheese in ratio to greens. We’re working (and succeeding!) on lowering my honey’s cholesterol, so I had to exercise some prudence. I did about 6 oz chopped mozzarella and 1.25 lb ricotta and kept the anchovy and seasonings the same. It came out nice and earthy with the greens, satisfying with the cheese, and bright with the touch of anchovy and lemon zest.

I followed her pasta recipe more or less and it was a very manageable dough that I rolled out to the 6th setting because I wanted the pasta to be thin enough to account for the fact it would later be getting rolled and doubling or more on thickness. She rolled hers to 5 and that’s probably what I’ll do next time. It turned out to be nicely delicate even after making the cannelloni and baking.

Filling_and_pasta

I rolled out sheets to the width of the pasta roller and then cut 6″ pieces; cooked them for about 2 minutes in salted boiling water working in batches of 4-6 and laying out on a sheet pan, spraying with cooking spray to keep them from sticking. I found that they required more filling than the recipe called for, perhaps because I was making this as an entree and not as a small reception plate. Either way, I would want a ratio of more filling to pasta flavor-wise. Like I said, the idea of seeing a ‘greens recipe’ was refreshing!

Filling_pasta

I rolled and lined them up in a sprayed pyrex baking dish and covered with foil and popped in the oven. A few minutes later I pulled out my ‘sformato.’

Curried_ricotta

I am right now eating this dish for the 3rd time. After trying it as a hot stuffed pasta with a

semi-frozen, self-saucing element I just reheated the sauce, poured it over my remaining pasta rolls, froze it to save some of it, and then reheated it all together. And it is delicious : )

So while I’m sure Sarah’s rendition was more refined and fabulous, my recommendation is to forget the ‘ice’ and just enjoy her good feel for flavor. I did the business with the gelatin, froze the curry sauce etc, but I did not bother putting the cheese through a food processor or strainer. At home I don’t think things need to be that refined unless Tom Colicchio is showing up; and even then, probably not unless he has a $100+k check to offer.

I suggest this: follow her measures for the curried the cream. It’s very nice. But just make the curry cream, combine it with ricotta out of the plastic container, pour it over your pasta and bake it off old-school. I’m enjoying a delicious, healthy, affordable dinner that way tonight, and I don’t have to icepick my way through the sauce ; ) Thanks Sarah for a cool dish.

 

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