Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cooking with Dr. Monkey

Today's episode: Spinach/ricotta balls and rigatoni in simple red sauce.

I saw a guy make this on TV the other night and it looked pretty good so I decided to try it. Here's how it went down:

I started out by grating a half a cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Next I blanched a 9 ounce bag of spinach plus about a third of a bag I had from before. Once all the spinach was blanched I drained it and I squeezed out as much water as I could out of it. I then chopped it up and added it to my cheese. Next I added some one quarter of a large onion and a couple of roughly chopped cloves of garlic that I had caramelized. Then I added one egg and a half a cup of bread crumbs and one container of lower fat ricotta and I mixed it all up.
Then I rolled it up into balls and I put them it in my big glass baking pan:I tossed in some toasted chili pepper flakes and sage leaves, then I drizzled a bit of extra virgin olive oil in and I baked them for about 25 minutes at 350F.

While the balls baked, I diced up one large onion and about a third of a yellow and red bell pepper.I sauteed all that in some olive oil.
As that sauteed I opened up quart jar of tomatoes that I canned last summer and I put about 3/4 of that jar in the food processor and I pulsed it on high until all the tomatoes were chopped up.
I tossed in my tomatoes in with the onions and peppers and I added a about 3/4 cup of diced pitted diced olives. I let it all simmer with the lid off the frying pan for a few minutes to let some of the water cook off. As it cooked I diced up three large cloves of garlic and then I tossed them in with the simple sauce and I covered it with a lid and took it off the heat.

I had been boiling up some rigatoni and when it got done I tossed it in the sauce. When I use a fresh pasta sauce like this I like a pasta like a rigatoni or a coniglio, both of which are pastas that can hold sauce. If you use spaghetti or other flat pastas, the sauce doesn't stay on or in the pasta like it does when you use a rigatoni or coniglio.

I mixed my pasta in with my sauce and let it sit for a bit while I took my balls out of the oven.
I served it all with some toasted slices of Sparky's homemade Cuban style bread:
And it was freakin' delicious.

Next time though I'll use more spinach, less ricotta, and I'll add another cup of bread crumbs. That should make the balls a little less susceptible to losing their shape and give them a bit more bite. But over all, holy hell they were really good and they tasted even better after they had sit for a awhile. The sauce was also super, it tasted so fresh, like the tomatoes were fresh picked. Next year I'm going to can about two to three times the amount I canned last summer.


Megan said...

Looks absolutely fabulous.

We are moving, and one of the things I'm most excited about where we are moving to is the farmer's market that will be about twenty steps from my apartment door, come summer.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you. I'm going to invest in a few sets of jars this year and can what I hope will be a massive tomato crop. I say massive, because the compost pile is looking really, really good. I can't wait for planting time.

Mnmom said...

WOW! Anything with that amount of garlic, spinach, and ricotta has to be good.
I find myself looking forward to planting season as well. Dreaming of seeds and dirt.

Laura said...

Mmm Mmm Mmm!
Looks fantastico bello!


Barbara Bruederlin said...

Absolutely freakin delicious looking! I am making something similar tonight, but stuffing it inside cannelloni shells.

Pilkey said...

lovely balls