Jan 17 2011

Antipasti & Primi

Published by at 5:00 am under Cooking Classes,Dinner,Starters

My cooking course is as traditionally French as it gets, so I have to admit I feel a little thrill when we make something that’s not covered in cream and cheese. Last week’s workshop was a truly special treat: Antipasti and Stuffed Pasta, two of my favorite foods to eat with a big glass of red at a cozy restaurant.

In general, Antipasti includes cooked vegetables that are dressed or marinated and served at room temperature at the beginning of a meal. Here’s a quick sampling of some of the dishes we made — none of which took more than around half an hour, by the way, and all of which would make excellent side dishes as well.

Marinated and Grilled Portabello Mushrooms

Grilled Asparagus in a Tangy Vinaigrette (my contribution!)

Whole Roasted Sweet Onions

Steamed Cauliflower with Herb Salsa (admittedly not the biggest winner of the day)

Eggplant and Zucchini Sauté

And then it was onto the Stuffed Pastas, which I’m dying to master. I think what people don’t realize is how easy it really is to make pasta by hand, and these are especially easy because they don’t require a pasta machine.

If you have some eggs, oil and flour in your pantry and a rolling pin (or empty bottle of wine?) you can whip up pasta in no time. Just make the dough, roll it out as thin as you can, cut it into squares, and stuff it with some ricotta or goat cheese and herbs. After that, the pasta takes literally 3 minutes to cook in boiling water. It is the definition of easy entertaining.

Here are the ones we made:

Cappellaci with Sweet Potatoes and a Sage Brown Butter Sauce

Tortellini with Prosciutto in a Cream Sauce

Spinach Ravioli with Marinara Sauce

Honestly, these were all good, but the sweet potatoes in brown butter were hard to beat. An extra bonus: all of them freeze really well, so they’re perfect to make ahead and have on hand… as soon as I have a free afternoon one of these days.

One of the questions people always ask me about being in school is whether I still like to cook when I get home. It may come as a surprise, but the answer is definitely YES! I look forward to it, and it relaxes me. And it’s at home where I can make all the stuff I really want to eat — wheatberries and squash and anything healthy, these days — without having to stick to the school program.

So basically, I cook all day, everyday. And when I’m not cooking, I’m thinking about all of the many restaurants I want to try.

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