Rosemary

IMG_3573Every summer we grow rosemary in our garden pots out front. It’s by far my favorite herb and I love the smell of it. It’s also so diverse- like lemon, it can be used in desserts but also goes so well with a simple roast chicken or in a steak marinade. This recipe is my first savory dish, which I am really excited about. Even though I have a massive sweet tooth, I also an obsession with Italian food, specifically, pasta, and how to make it at home.

I stopped by my local farmers market to get inspiration for the dish before I knew what I was going to make and I made my way to the Borealis bread stand first. Carbs are everything, right? My favorite thing they sell is rosemary sourdough-based bread. It smells incredible and although it has a short shelf life, I usually gobble it up in a couple of days between making bruschetta, panini and bread crumbs. Bread crumbs! That was my idea. Fragrant rosemary bread crumbs on top of succulent stuffed pasta. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on my pasta maker again!

I also picked up some fresh portobello mushrooms because I knew I wanted to make the dish vegetarian and spotlight the rosemary, but thought that the meatiness of the shrooms would compliment the savoriness. I also picked up a bottle of craft olive oil, one of my favorite things to cook with, which was infused with rosemary. If you can’t find this you can a) infuse olive oil yourself with virtually anything, or b) I would pick up lemon olive oil, which is more common and so so good.

So after some experimenting and flour covering every inch of the kitchen, I came up with what is one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had. It’s crave able, rich but still light and really heroes the rosemary. It’s a ricotta stuffed tortellini with rosemary brown butter sauce, rosemary bread crumbs, sautéed mushrooms and fried rosemary leaves. My budget didn’t allow for it this time, but I also would recommend adding some pine nuts and maybe some golden raisins for sweetness (although the dish as it is is delicious).

To make the rosemary pasta:

2 cups AP Flour or Semolina Flour
3 eggs
1/4 cup fresh chopped rosemary
1/2 tsp salt

In a medium bowl combine flour and chopped rosemary. Make a well in the center with your hands (this is a down and dirty pasta recipe so get ready!) and when you are ready, add the eggs. Quickly whisk the eggs as if you are making scrambled eggs and slowly start to incorporate the flour. It will get thicker and thicker until it eventually becomes crumby, at which point, ditch the fork and go at it with your hands.

You’ll have to knead it as hard as you can for a good 5-10 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when it’s completely yellow, a little springy and firm. The rosemary should be evenly distributed and it shouldn’t be too loose or too floury. When you feel that the pasta is kneaded to death and your arms are throbbing (like mine) wrap it in cling-film and put it in the fridge to rest for at least 30 minutes.

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To make the ricotta filling:

1 cup ricotta cheese
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tbsp rosemary olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice (1/2-1 lemon)
1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 tsp salt

This is really straight-forward and easy! Just combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl. It should be a consistency thinner than ricotta but should still hold its shape. You can also absolutely freestyle this based on what you have in stock- lime juice, basil and other types of cheeses i.e. asiago, fontina would work well too. Place in the fridge to chill until you are ready to stuff the pasta.

To make the rosemary brown butter (for sauce and breadcrumbs):

1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped fresh rosemary

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat and then add fresh rosemary. Continue cooking butter, stirring constantly to make sure it doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pan, for 5-10 minutes until it achieves a dark, nutty color (in this case, with a green hue) and smells nutty and almost a little burnt.

When the butter is ready, pour through a fine mesh strainer into a heat-proof container (and don’t touch it and burn your hand like I did) and let cool for a while (butter gets really damn hot!). Keep the rosemary you strained out to top the pasta (it should be nice and crisp and tasty (almost potato-y in flavor).

To make rosemary bread-bread crumbs:

4 slices fresh rosemary sourdough (I used Borealis Rosemary)
2 tbs rosemary brown butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Smell the amazing rosemary bread and slice into larger than bite-size chunks (it doesn’t matter the size as long as you are confident in controlling the timing of the bread in the oven, but we’re going to need small pieces to fit in the blender so don’t toast whole slices, unless you slice it after). Place your bread pieces on a parchment-lined baking tray making sure to spread evenly. Drizzle evenly with the brown butter and pop in oven to cook for about 10 minutes (oven temps vary so make sure you are constantly checking it). It should be golden brown and not burnt!

When the bread comes out of the oven, let it cool to room temperature. When ready add to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until crumbs, but don’t go too fine or it’ll become powder and we still want some nice texture and bread flavor. Set aside for plating.

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We’re going to put everything together right as we eat, so no need to worry yet about the sauce or the mushrooms. Let’s make the tortellini first!

Get your pasta machine ready- I have an Atlas machine with 9 thickness settings and a linguini attachment which is my baby. I got it for my birthday a few years ago and have spent many long days trying to roll perfect pasta sheets and origami my dough into perfect ravioli sheets, and I’ll admit it takes practice. If you are a novice with the machine, I recommend starting off by just making linguini instead of a stuffed pasta, but by all means if you are up for the challenge, go for it!

So I took my dough out of the fridge and cut it in half because it’s easier to work with small amounts at a time to not clog the machine.

First start by flattening the dough into a rectangle as much as you can with a rolling pin/your hands to prepare to go into the machine.

Start off with the machine on 0-1 to just start it off. Feed the dough into the maker with one hand and crank with the other with the machine clamped down.

Once it comes through fold it in half and press down to flatten again and roll it out on 0-1 again. Repeat the process going from 0-1 to 2-3, 4-5, and finally end on 8 (I find 8 is very thin but still has enough bite, but go to 7 for a more toothsome pasta or 9 for a thinner one)

When you get to stage 8 don’t fold the pasta this time- you should have a very long, thin sheet and it should be semi-translucent. Cut the sheet in half and flour the counter to keep them from sticking.

Get your filling and place about 5-6 tablespoon-sized dollops, evenly spaced on each pasta sheet.

Brush the pasta around the perimeter of the dollops with egg wash (just beaten egg and milk- I even just used store bought egg whites I had in the fridge and a pastry brush) to make sure the edges around the filling are sealed.

Carefully the pasta in half lengthwise, bringing the top over the filling and even with the bottom edge. Press down around the filling and all over to remove air bubbles.

With a 6-inch circle cutter, cut a half circle from each of sections of the pasta containing filling (so that the top folded edge is lined up with the middle of the circle cutter. You will have little half-moons that we will fold into tortellini!

When you are ready with all your half-moons, in an assembly line brush each lightly with egg-wash to help seal the edges. Fold each point end of the half moon into the middle so you have almost a crown shape. They should look like this-

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Make sure when you are done with all of your tortellini that you toss them lightly with flour to prevent sticking- I then kept mine in the fridge until I was ready to eat which helped the egg-wash seal and the pasta to firm up a little bit.

When you are ready to cook:

This takes a little multi-tasking, but no problem! On one burner heat a large pot about 2/3 way with hot water and heat over high until boiling.

At the same time, let’s start the sauce:

(For each batch of 8 tortellini)
1 tbsp fresh chopped garlic
2 tbsp minced yellow onion
1 handful of chopped portobello mushrooms (as much as you want!)
1/3 cup white wine
1/2 cup rosemary brown butter
1/4 cup lemon juice (1/2-1 lemon)
1 handful of rosemary bread crumbs

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat (closer to medium). Sauté garlic and onions until slightly golden and add mushrooms.

CAUTION: You need to start cooking the pasta at the same time as the sauce-making. Now is a good time because the pasta takes about 5-6 minutes to cook through. Season the pasta water with a handful of salt and add pasta to the boiling water, making sure filling doesn’t burst out of the pasta.

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Back to the sauce! Cook about 3 minutes until the mushrooms are cooked through and everything is browned.

IMG_3603Deglaze the pan with white wine and cook for 1-2 minutes to reduce. Add the brown butter, lemon, and breadcrumbs to the pan and mix to combine. This allows the breadcrumbs to get toasted a second time and thickens the sauce a little.

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By this time the pasta should be cooked! With a slotted spoon, add the pasta to the sauce and shake and stir the pan to combine. You only need to keep them in the pan for seconds, just enough to coat in the sauce.

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Transfer pasta to plate.

To garnish, add more dried breadcrumbs and fried rosemary.

And you’ll end up with something like this! It’s a delicious, light yet filling Italian pasta dish exploding with rosemary. The lemony/cheesy filling is a great counter-weight to the rich salty breadcrumbs, meaty mushrooms and the light butter sauce. It left me wanting more…and more…and more…so take caution.

The recipe makes enough for 3 people (or 2 hungry people, or one starving person) so it’s perfect for a small family like mine, or a date! And again, feel free to change things up if you want- try using different cheeses, add some nuts, raisins, do whatever you like!

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