Monday, September 15, 2008

Artichoke Pesto

I served this pesto on slices of grilled ciabatta bread and it was fantastic! It would also be wonderful on pasta! (I will try it tomorrow with the leftovers :))

1 (8-ounce) pack frozen artichoke hearts, thawed (I couldn't find frozen-so I just used a jar of marinated artichoke hearts)
1 cup fresh parsley leaves, packed down
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2/3 cup grated Parmesan (2 teaspoons per cube)

1 (12 to 16-inch) ciabatta loaf, cut into slices
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

In a food processor combine the artichokes, parsley, walnuts, lemon zest and juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. Run the machine to finely chop all the ingredients, stopping the machine a few times to scrape down the sides. Then, with the machine running, drizzle in 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil. Mix in the Parmesan. Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Drizzle the ciabatta slices with the 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil. Grill until toasted, about 5 minutes. Spread the artichoke pesto over the toasted slices and serve. If you want to freeze the pesto, omit the parmesan cheese, then freeze the pesto. Then when you're ready to serve it, thaw the pesto and add the parmesan cheese. Voila!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Turkey Artichoke Stuffed Shells

1 (12-ounce) box jumbo pasta shells (recommended: Barilla)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound ground turkey
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1/4 teaspoon
1 (8 to 10-ounce) package frozen artichokes, thawed and coarsely chopped
1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

5 cups Arrabbiata Sauce, recipe follows

1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella (about 5 ounces)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and partially cook until tender but still very firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain pasta.

Meanwhile, in a large heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and the garlic and cook until the onions are soft and starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the ground turkey, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is slightly golden and cooked through. Add the artichoke hearts and stir to combine. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large bowl combine the cooled turkey mixture with the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, basil, parsley, and the remaining salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

To stuff the shells, cover the bottom of a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking dish with 1 cup of Arrabbiata sauce. Take a shell in the palm of your hand and stuff it with a large spoonful of turkey mixture, about 2 tablespoons. Place the stuffed shell in the baking dish. Continue filling the shells until the baking dish is full, about 24 shells. Drizzle the remaining Arrabbiata Sauce over the shells, top with the grated mozzarella. If freezing, cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 1 day and up to 1 month.

To bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake until the shells are warmed through and the cheese is beginning to brown, about 60 minutes (20 minutes if shells are unfrozen.)

Arrabbiata Sauce:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 ounces sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 cups jarred or fresh marinara sauce

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until tender, about 1 minute. Add the marinara sauce and red pepper flakes and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and let cool until ready to use.

Yield: approximately 6 cups