One of the things I truly love about Facebook, aside from being able to stay connected to family & friends both near and far, is the food pictures and/or recipes which inspire me to get into the kitchen and try them out. Most recently, a childhood friend posted a photo of her rigatoni pie, and it was seriously so pretty, I had to try to make it for that reason alone (well, it also looked delicious). I searched online and found quite a few recipes, and went with two I wanted to modify. Since I knew this pie was going to be a bit labor-intensive, and in the interest of time, I decided to use store-bought pasta sauce instead of making my own, but by all means, if you make a mean sauce, go ahead and use that. I am thrilled to report that this pie turned out amazing and absolutely scrumptious!
1 lb. rigatoni pasta
1 jar (24 oz.) pasta sauce (I used Bertoli Italian Sausage Garlic & Romano)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the rigatoni and cook until al dente (12 minutes for my pasta). Drain the pasta, rinse in cold water and drain again. Stir in 1 tbsp of the olive oil and set aside. (This keeps the pasta from sticking.)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Gently stir 1 cup of the grated Parmesan cheese into the cooked rigatoni.
Stand the rigatoni up vertically in a greased 9″ springform pan, using the entire pound of cooked pasta.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, egg, remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan, basil, and oregano until smooth. Set aside.
Use a pastry bag, or put a zip lock bag inside a tall glass, and fill the bag with the cheese mixture. Close the bag and snip the corner of the bag and pipe a decent amount into each noodle (don’t fill all the way).
After piping the noodles with the cheese mixture, carefully pour about 3/4 of the jar of sauce over the whole top and push down as much as possible. (I wanted to save some sauce to heat up and use later for leftovers.)
Top with the mozzarella and cheddar cheese.
Put the springform pan on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Cook for 20 minutes, or until the cheese has fully melted.
Remove from the oven and allow it to stand in the springform pan for about 15 minutes. Carefully run a knife along the edge of the pan to loosen the pie from the pan, then remove the sides.
Slice the pie and garnish with parsley, if desired.
Did you ever see a recipe, and that one led you to another one, then another one, and… well, you get the point. I received a recipe over the weekend for an appetizer with polenta rounds that looked absolutely delicious, and planned on making it, then thought I should probably wait until I actually need to make some hors d’oeuvres. So, I continued looking online for different types of recipes which contained polenta and came across one from Rachael Ray, that got tremendous reviews and looked scrumptious, which led me to a recipe from Alton Brown. I definitely plan on trying Rachael’s soon, but made Alton’s polenta side dish, with a few modifications, to go with some leftover rib-eye I had in the fridge. This was my first time making and trying polenta, so wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I really liked it!! This also pairs very well with fish or chicken.
1 tbsp. olive oil, plus extra for grilling or sautéing the polenta, if desired
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 cup chicken stock or broth
1 cup milk (I prefer skim) + additional to thin, if desired
1/2 cup coarse ground cornmeal
1 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
1/4 cup Sharp Cheddar, grated
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
Add the red onion and salt, and cook until the onions begin to turn translucent, approximately 4 to 5 minutes.
Reduce the heat to low, add the garlic, and saute for 1 to 2 minutes, making sure the garlic does not burn.
Turn the heat up to high, add the chicken stock or broth, bring to a boil.
Gradually add the cornmeal while continually whisking.
Once you have added all of the cornmeal, cover the pot and cook for approx. 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to prevent lumps.
Once the mixture is creamy, remove from heat and add the butter and pepper.
Once they are incorporated, gradually add the Parmesan and Cheddar.
Season with additional salt, according to taste.
If you want the polenta creamier, you can thin with a little cream or milk to get desired consistency. Otherwise, serve as is, or pour the polenta into a cake pan lined with parchment paper and place in the refrigerator to cool completely. Once set, turn the polenta out onto a cutting board and cut into squares, rounds, or triangles. Brush each side with olive oil and saute in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, or grill.