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In Season: Mamma mia!

ByJERUSALEM POST STAFF
March 15, 2012 17:58

Fresh pasta is an easy way to create a gourmet dinner in virtually minutes.

Sweet Potato Ravioli with Leek

Sweet Potato Ravioli with Leek 370. (photo credit:Michal Barel)

Moshe Barel is a chef and the owner of Pasta Della Casa, a pasta factory that has been producing fresh kosher Italian pasta since 1991. He uses traditional Italian methods he collected from Italian chefs and housewives during his numerous trips to Italy. He uses only the finest ingredients and produces more than 200 kinds of pasta and other Italian delicacies, such as fresh ravioli, gnocchi, cannelloni, lasagna and sauces, soups, breads and desserts, all with no added coloring or preservatives.

Barel’s tips for preparing and cooking fresh pasta

❖ Use 1 liter of water for every 100 grams of pasta. Make sure the water is boiling vigorously before adding salt to the pot, and only then add pasta.



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❖ Always cook pasta over high heat. Lower flame only if water overflows.

❖ To make your own egg pasta, use 1 kg. flour and 10 fresh eggs.

❖ To make colored pasta, add vegetable mash to the pastry. Use the likes of carrots, spinach or beetroot, and experiment.

❖ It is possible to freeze fresh pasta up to six months. Before freezing, dust with flour to keep the pasta from sticking together.

❖ Fresh egg pasta is very rich and tasty. There is no real need for sauce.

Simply add a little butter and Parmesan cheese.

SWEET POTATO RAVIOLI WITH LEEK
Serves 4

Fresh ravioli, filled with sweet potato, is delicious as is. Adding a cream sauce with leek makes it a very rich dish that takes minutes to prepare.

✔ 500 gr. fresh sweet potato ravioli
✔ 250 ml. cooking cream
✔ 1 medium-sized sweet potato, cut into 1⁄2-cm. cubes
✔ 1⁄2 leek, washed and sliced
✔ 50 gr. Parmesan cheese, grated
✔ 1⁄4 bunch chives, chopped
✔ 1⁄2 tsp. salt
✔ Pinch black pepper
✔ 3 Tbsp. olive oil
✔ 1⁄4 cup ravioli cooking water

Cook ravioli in boiling water with 1 tsp. salt for 5-6 minutes. Strain. Save 1⁄4 cup of the water.

Fry sweet potato in olive oil. Use a wide pot with a lid. Cook until golden and tender. It is best to cover the pot with a matching lid, and stir from time to time. Add leek and cook for 1 more minute. Add cream and saved water and bring to a boil. Add 1⁄4 tsp. salt, a little black pepper and grated cheese. Mix and remove from heat. Add the ravioli, mix and return to heat for 1 minute. Pour into a serving dish, sprinkle chives and serve.

ZUCCHINI, BASIL AND FETA SALAD
Serves 4

A festive pasta salad, perfect for a buffet dinner.

✔ 500 gr. short pasta such as casarecce, fusilli or radiator
✔ 5 cloves garlic, minced
✔ 3 zucchini, sliced
✔ Leaves of 1 rosemary sprig
✔ 150 gr. feta cheese, cubed
✔ Salt and black pepper
✔ Olive oil
✔ 10 basil leaves, chopped

Cook pasta according to instructions. If using fresh pasta, cook for no more than 1 minute. Strain well, add 2 Tbsp. olive oil, mix and chill.

Heat 3 Tbsp. olive oil in a frying pan. Place zucchini, garlic and rosemary in the pan and saute until browned. Remove from heat and let cool in the pan. Mix pasta with the zucchini, add chopped basil and season with salt and pepper. Before serving, add the cubed cheese.

SPINACH CAPPELLETTI IN CREAM AND MOZZARELLA SAUCE
Serves 4

Cappelletti is another shape of stuffed pasta. The cappelletti are folded and then twisted to form the shape of a small hat. This recipe is for the largesize ones, which are stuffed with spinach leaves and cheese and served with a fresh green sauce.

✔ 500 gr. ready cappelletti with spinach and ricotta
✔ 300 gr. fresh spinach leaves, washed and chopped
✔ 250 ml. cooking cream
✔ 4 Tbsp. white wine
✔ 2 large, fresh mozzarella balls, torn by hand into large uneven pieces
✔ 2 Tbsp. olive oil
✔ Pinch salt
✔ Pinch pepper
✔ Grated Parmesan

Heat olive oil in a pot. Add spinach and steam for 2 minutes. While stirring, add 2 Tbsp. wine, a little pepper and salt and stir. Remove from heat and blend with a hand-held stick blender until smooth. You can use a regular blender or food processor as well. Cook pasta in boiling salted water for 5-6 minutes. Strain and add to sauce. Cook in the sauce for 1 more minute. Pour into a serving dish, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.

PASTA SALAD WITH LENTILS
Serves 4

A Mediterranean salad, rich with sweet cherry tomatoes, aromatic olives, black lentils and sharp cheese, this is an easy recipe for a spring afternoon.

✔ 500 gr. fresh short pasta casarecce, fusilli or radiator
✔ 15 cherry tomatoes, halved
✔ 100 gr. green olives, pitted
✔ 100 gr. black lentils
✔ 1⁄4 red onion, sliced
✔ Leaves of 4 oregano sprigs
✔ 100 gr. sharp cheese such as Kashkaval, cubed
✔ Olive oil
✔ Juice of 1⁄2 lemon
✔ Salt and black pepper

To cook lentils: Soak in lukewarm water about 20 minutes. Strain and place in a pot with water to cover. Add a little salt and cook 30 minutes or until lentils are tender. Strain and chill.

Cook pasta according to instructions. If using fresh pasta, cook for no more than 1 minute. Strain well. Place pasta in a bowl, add 4 Tbsp. olive oil, mix and refrigerate until chilled completely. When chilled, add all the rest of the ingredients. Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper and serve.

GNOCCHI WITH BUTTER AND SAGE
Serves 4

A classic dish that is so easy and delicious, it will soon become your favorite. In this recipe, the fresh gnocchi are not boiled but fried in the butter. This is only possible when using fresh pasta.

✔ 500 gr. fresh gnocchi (from potato or sweet potato)
✔ Olive oil
✔ 50 gr. butter
✔ Leaves of 2 fresh sage sprigs
✔ Salt
✔ Freshly grated Parmesan

Heat olive oil in a skillet. You will need about 1 cm. of oil. Add butter and sage. Add gnocchi and fry until golden brown. Remove from skillet onto paper towels to soak up the excess fat. Season with salt. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese as a main dish with salad or as side dish with fish.

■ Pasta Della Casa products are available in Ramat Hasharon, (03) 547-4893; Hod Hasharon, Renanim Mall, (09) 743-0552; and in Kfar Malal, (09) 748-7465. Some delicatessens also carry it. To find a point of sale near you, go to http://pastadellacasa.com


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