Rustica.

I’m going to make this one short and sweet, unlike the recipe below, but I’m all about irony and opposites, so who cares.

I’m going to guess that this is going to be my last post for a while. We are headed to Greece (GREECE!!!!!) on Saturday, and you best believe, I won’t be bloggin’ over there. Plus, I swear I haven’t cooked much of anything lately, and I had to dig into a rough draft of this recipe from like, I dunno, a couple of months ago, to have something to share with you today.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve made some stuff – but typically it’s a piece of toasted bread, a fried egg, some cheese, and a couple of slices of avocado (you don’t need a recipe and pictures for that, right?!) or maybe a throw-together version of the best thing in my life food-wise, chilaquiles.

We even went to Portland the other week, and camping/backpacking again (first time since the Lost Coast!) this past weekend, and I could probably share some pictures with you, but I didn’t take that many.

Man, I’m slack.

But if I had a little time on my hands, a little snippet of a morning where I could plan a little, I’d totally make this pie again. If I had any veggies in my fridge, it would totally be the way to use them all up, but I doubt a bunch of celery would be all that good by itself…

I’m hoping you do have a little more time at home this week to make this, because I promise it’s totally worth a little bit of preparation. When I made this thing ages ago (or at least it seems like ages), I made the dough the day before, and when it came time to roll that stuff out and stuff the pie, I added every little piece of veggie that I had left into that thing. Lots of cheese, too. It was marvelous, and we ate it for three days straight, which might be boring to some of you, but to me, it was just delightful each and every time.

And with that, adio! I promise to take pictures in Greece, and maybe make some baklava again, or in the least, something with a good Greek olive oil ;).

Pizza Rustica
adapted from Cooking Light, April 2012; serves 8

time commitment:  2 hours, 30 minutes (about 1 hour active time, includes refrigeration of dough and baking time)

printable version

ingredients
crust
7 3/4 oz all-purpose flour (about 1 3/4 cups), divided
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking powder
1/3 c extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 c water

torta
2 medium red bell peppers
2 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 lb kale, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 T chopped shallots
2 t minced garlic
2 (8-ounce) packages cremini mushrooms, sliced
8 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
2 oz fontina cheese, shredded (about 1/2 cup)
1 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (about 1/4 cup)
1 T chopped fresh thyme
1/2 t kosher salt
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 large egg white
Cooking spray
1 T fat-free milk

instructions
To prepare crust, weigh or lightly spoon 7.25 ounces flour (about 1 2/3 cups) into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 7.25 ounces flour, 1/2 t salt, and baking powder in a food processor; pulse 2 times to combine. Combine 1/3 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup water in a small bowl. With processor on, slowly add oil mixture through food chute, and process just until dough begins to form a ball (dough will be crumbly). Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead 3 minutes; add enough of the remaining 2 tablespoons flour to prevent dough from sticking to hands. Divide dough into 2 equal portions. Press each portion into a 5-inch circle on plastic wrap. Cover with additional plastic wrap. Chill at least 30 minutes.
To prepare torta, preheat broiler to high. Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand. Broil 10 minutes or until blackened. Place in a ziploc bag and seal. Let stand 10 minutes. Peel and coarsely chop.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil; swirl to coat. Add kale to pan; cook 1 minute or until greens begin to wilt. Place kale and bell peppers in a large bowl. Return pan to medium heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add shallots and garlic to pan; cook for 1 minute. Add mushrooms; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Place mushroom mixture and kale mixture in a fine sieve; let drain 5 minutes. Place vegetable mixture in a large bowl. Add ricotta and next 7 ingredients (through egg white) to vegetable mixture, stirring to combine.
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Slightly overlap 2 sheets of plastic wrap on a slightly damp surface. Unwrap one dough portion, and place on plastic wrap. Cover dough with 2 additional sheets of overlapping plastic wrap. Roll dough, still covered, into an 11-inch circle. Place the dough in freezer for 5 minutes or until plastic wrap can be easily removed. Remove top sheets of plastic wrap; fit dough, plastic wrap side up, into a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Remove remaining plastic wrap. Spoon vegetable mixture into prepared pie plate.
Repeat with remaining dough and then place over vegetable mixture. Remove remaining plastic wrap. Press the edges of dough together. Fold edges under, and flute. Brush top of dough with milk. Cut several slits in top of dough to allow steam to escape.
Bake at 375° for 45 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Cool 30 minutes. Cut into 8 wedges.

Shelled In

Hello. Hi there. How’s it goin’? It’s nice to see you here. It’s nice to know I can move across the country, start a new job, move again, unpack, unpack some more, and then get my internets hooked up and see your smiling faces. Well, not really see you, but you get my drift, yes?

I’m glad you’re here, and I’m glad I’m here.

I’m also glad to have my kitchen back. As of Sunday night, all boxes are unpacked. Now, this doesn’t mean everything is in its place, but great progress has been made on the home front. I will say that it’s hard to move to a smaller place, but I think we’ll manage just fine here.

I think we’ll eat a lot of good dinners together, and I think that, once we procure another dining room table (and chairs of course. chairs are good here.), we’ll eat a lot of dinners with other people too.

But for now, it’s just the two of us (we can make it if we try; just the two of us). That works out  nicely when I make a dish I don’t enjoy sharing, which happens often. Of course, stuffed shells aren’t exactly a novelty, but considering I had an unopened box of jumbo shells in my pantry that made it’s way here all the way from Chicago, I felt it worthy of a housebreaking meal.

Also, my favorite mother-and-father-in-law mailed me some extra-tasty fine Italian cheeses for my birthday, and I took this as an opportunity to use some of them. Now, you don’t have to go all out and put your best cheese on this dish, but you could if you wanted. In our house, cheese has to get used quickly, or else it risks getting eaten by a certain cheese-lovin’ boy.

But why eat cheese alone with you can eat it with more cheese, the best tomatoes ever, and pasta? No brainer.

Swiss Chard Stuffed Shells
serves 4

time commitment: 1 hour (30 minutes active)

printable version

ingredients
20 jumbo shells (~1/2 box)
1 15-oz container part-skim ricotta cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 bunch swiss chard, chopped
salt and pepper
1 28-oz can San Marzano tomato puree
1/3 c Asiago cheese, shredded
1/3 c Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shredded

instructions
preheat oven to 350 F. bring a large pot of water to boil. cook pasta shells according to package directions, being careful not to overcook them. drain and rinse with cold water; pat dry.

meanwhile, make filling. in a medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese through chard. season with salt and pepper.

taking one shell at a time, stuff with filling until overflowing. place in small baking dish (you want them to all be touching one another, not spread out). pour tomato puree atop stuffed shells and top with the two cheeses. bake, covered with foil, for 30 minutes. uncover, and bake another 5 minutes.