Monday, February 27, 2012

Kale and Caramelized Onion Cannelloni, with Spicy Tomato Sauce

I’ve been traveling a lot recently for work such that I think Virgin America is going to offer I start flying the plane because I know the route to DC so well. This also means less time in the kitchen for yours truly, so when I finally touched down this weekend after a ton of time on the road, I knew one of my first welcome home activities would be to whip up something tasty for dinner.

My weary head could think of nothing more welcoming than warm and comforting baked pasta smothered in spicy sauce, speckled with gooey cheese. I love making fresh pasta….it’s soooooooo delicious and to be honest, not all the hard. You just need the right tools and a bit of faith. Store bought dried pasta simply can’t compete. After a trip to the farmers’ market I found some gorgeous kale that I wanted to work into the dish too. And thus was born my new favorite…cannelloni, a baked pasta in the shape of big cigars filled with gooey goodness. I stuff mine with a mixture of spicy braised kale, sweet caramelized onion, tender sautéed spinach and creamy ricotta, topping it off with a spicy, roasted tomato sauce. It was divine.

Kale and Caramelized Onion Cannelloni, with Spicy Tomato Sauce 
A Girl and Her Kitchen

1 bunch of kale, chopped
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pinch salt
1/4 cup low sodium chicken stock
1-2 tbsp bacon fat (can replace with butter or olive oil or just cook 2 slices of bacon )
1 red onion, diced
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups spinach
Salt and pepper to taste
14 oz ricotta, part skim

1 can crushed tomatoes, fire roasted if possible
1/4 cup good red wine
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbps butter
1 tbsp oregano
Pinch of sugar
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup torn fresh basilc leaves (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh Pasta:
3 cups “00” flour (aka double zero flour, all purpose, un-bleached flour will also work)
4 large eggs
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp salt
3/4 cup parmesan, grated
3/4 cup pecorino, grated
3/4 cup mozzarella, shredded

Fresh Pasta: There are various methods to making fresh pasta (one of which is certainly buying fresh sheets of pasta!) I tend to follow Giada’s recipe because it’s generally pretty easy and least messy. In a small bowl, lightly whisk the eggs, salt and olive oil. In the bowl of a food processor, add flour and egg mixture and pulse until it comes together (about 30 seconds) so that when you pinch it, the flour sticks to itself. Then leave the machine running for one minute. Turn the mixture out onto a clean and lightly floured surface and knead until the dough comes together into a smoother ball. Cover securely in plastic wrap and set aside to rest for at least 30 minutes. Cut the pasta ball into 4 or 5 sections. Using a pasta roller, roll out each section of pasta until thin using the smallest setting. Cut into 4x6 inch rectangles. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. In batches of 4 or 5, cook pasta sheets for one minute then move to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Lay sheets flat on clean kitchen towl to dry slightly while finishing the remaining batches. (Could buy fresh sheets of pasta to cut time)

Sauce: In a sauce pan, sauté the yellow onion, pinch of salt and sugar in 1 tbsp of olive oil for 5 minutes on medium-low heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes sauté another 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and mix to combine, sauté another 2 minutes. Add the wine and let reduce, 2-3 minutes. Add in the tomatoes and oregano, stir to combine and simmer for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste seasoning and adjust as needed. When sauce is at desired thickness, take off the heat and stir in basil leaves. (Could substitute your favorite jar sauce)

Filling: in a non-stick pan, melt one tbsp. of butter on low heat and then cook the red onion on low heat for 15 minutes stirring very occasionally until the onion is somewhat caramelized (sweet and light brown). Set the onion aside in bowl of food processor. In the same pan, melt bacon fat in pan with garlic on medium heat, add the kale and red pepper flakes, sauté for 5 minutes, add chicken stock and braise for 10-15 minutes until kale is soft. Set aside with onions. If needed, add 1 tbsp of olive oil to pan to sauté spinach until just wilted. Add to onions and kale. Pulse the onions, kale and spinach 5-10 times until chopped but course. Pour the mixture into a bowl and stir in the ricotta. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Assemble: In a 9x13 pan, spread one cup of sauce across the bottom. On a clean surface, lay one sheet of pasta down, long side facing you. Leaving a 1 inch border at the bottom and ½ inch on the side, spread 2 spoonful’s of filling across the width of the sheet. Roll the sheet from the bottom up over the filling and continue rolling into a thick cigar shape. Lay the cannelloni seam side down in the baking dish. Once all cannelloni are in place, sprinkle parmesan and pecorino over the top. Ladle remaining sauce over the top and spread to cover all the rolls. Sprinkle mozzarella across the top and bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Broil for 2 minutes to lightly brown top. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

1 comment:

  1. really delicious making for the second time, can"t wait to eat :)