Shameless self-promotion . . .
One of our photos from Italy has been entered in a photo contest. We are currently 21 out of 363 photos. You can vote by clicking here.
Remember a 10 is good!
Recently I have become more aware of 'food blog events'. These are collections of theme posts which are designed to share thoughts and ideas about the selected theme. Some wags might suggest that they are also designed to increase traffic to one's blog, but they should probably just have another merlot and pipe down. Anyway, I digress.
This is my third post for the Weekend Herb Blogging event started by Kalyayn of Kaylayn Kitchens. Each week someone takes on the immense task of 'hosting' the event. This involves gathering up all of the information and putting it all into a enormous post! This week's host is Haalo from Cook (almost) Anything . . . . at least once. It is appropriate that Haalo is blogging from Italy given what I am posting!
When we were in Italy last year we purchased a calendar in Volterra which featured a different recipe each month. Our plan was to make the featured recipe each month. Guess what? It never happened! We made tons of Italian recipes but never one from the calendar - I blame it on Jamie Oliver and his amazing cookbook: 'jamie's italy'.
Anyway, last weekend we decided to correct this.
This recipe caught my attention. It is a perfect example of what I have come to understand is at the heart of Italian food - simple, fresh ingredients, coming together in an incredible dish!
I won't get into how to make the pasta or how to roll it. You can read detailed directions here.
For the filling . . .
800 g cooked, pureed, pumpkin
300 g grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
Mix ingredients together. Use to fill the ravioli.
Cook ravioli for a few minutes. Remove from the hot water with a perforated spoon.
While the ravioli is cooking melt 100 g of butter. Add a handful of roughly chopped sage leaves to the butter. Fry until fragrant.
Add the drained ravioli to the butter and sage mixture . Gently stir to coat.
Serve topped with freshly grated cheese.
The sage is key to the dish in my opinion. I think it is a toss up between it and rosemary for the 'herb I use the most often' award. People associate sage with turkey but there are so many other uses!
A member of the mint family, culinary sage is highly aromatic and is best used fresh, when its flavor has been described as a mix of rosemary, pine and mint, or citrusy; when dried, it has a more camphorous flavor. In many places, it can be used fresh from the garden year round; it can also be stored fresh in a ziplock bag in the refrigerator crisper for two weeks. Whole leaves can be frozen up to two months. To dry, hang sprigs of sage or place leaves on a screen in a warm, dry place; check carefully to be sure leaves are fully dried before storage and store them whole to be crushed just before using. The best way to crush sage leaves is to rub them between your hands-hence, the "rubbed sage" one finds on supermarket shelves. The flowers of any culinary sage are edible, as well as beautiful, and have a more delicate flavor than the leaves. Stems or leaves can also be tossed on hot charcoal where they will add a wonderful aroma to grilled dishes.
Culinary sage contains generous quantities of vitamins A and C and can be used in a myriad of recipes. Because of its strong flavor, it can overwhelm so should be used sparingly; unlike the more delicate herbs, it can be added at the beginning of cooking and pairs nicely with other strongly flavored herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, savory, and oregano as well as the lemon herbs.
Long used as a digestive aid, sage goes well with fatty foods, such as pork, liver (or pate), and sausages. Although North Americans most commonly associate sage with stuffing for poultry or pork (where about 1 tablespoon of minced sage leaves is added for each cup of stuffing), it has many uses in European and Mediterranean cuisines, especially Italian dishes, such as pizza, foccaccia, saltimbocca, gnocchi, and pasta. It blends well with mild cheeses; try a little sage on a grilled cheese sandwich made with fontina cheese and dark bread. Marinate a goat cheese with olive oil, peppercorns, garlic, and some small sage leaves. Or add one-quarter cup minced sage leaves to an 8-ounce package of cream cheese and let sit for at least an hour before spreading on bagel chips.
Sage makes a great addition to biscuits or scones, as well as corn bread or cheese straws. Try covering a pork roast with sage leaves before roasting; or gently separate with your hands the skin from the breast meat of a chicken or turkey, rub a little butter on the meat, then place a small sprig or two of sage under the skin on each breast, pat down the skin, then roast-and wait for the accolades!