Posts Tagged ‘ricotta’

Mediterranean vegetable lasagne with ricotta and parmesan

February 2, 2011

Lasagne is one of those fabulous dishes that I don’t think you really need a recipe for or an ingredients list for that matter. You can put almost anything in it. All you need is a tomato based sauce, a cheese based sauce some fresh or dried lasagne and game on! So basically I feel as if there is no need to write this recipe at all. Although I tend to forget that some people actually have never made lasagne or don’t really “wing it” with recipes like I do. So for all you people out there that need a recipe here goes.

Ingredients (serves 8 hungry people)

Tomato sauce

4 tins of peeled tomatoes
6-8 cloves of garlic
1 large red onion
Olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Mediterranean Vegetables

1 large aubergine (eggplant)
4 red peppers/capsicum (you could use yellow or orange or a mixture – not green)
3 medium sized courgettes/zucchini
1 butternut squash peeled and diced 1 cm (approx 600 grams prepared weight)
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Cheese Sauce

2 tbsp plain flour
50 grams butter
1 ltr whole milk
Dijon mustard
100 grams parmesan finely grated
500 grams ricotta

2 packets of plain lasagne sheets (or equivalent of fresh)


Start off by making your tomato sauce. The rule of thumb is the longer you cook the tomato sauce the taster it will be so I recommend at least an hour.

Peel and finely chop garlic, peel and finely dice red onion. Add to a large heavy based non reactive pan. Add a pinch of salt and a generous glug of olive oil (about 3 tbsp).

Heat on a low-medium heat until soft and sweet. This will take 10-15 mins. Do not brown. If it does start to brown remove from the heat and add a little more oil, this will cool everything down and stop the “burning”.

Add the tinned tomatoes and bring to the boil.

Once boiling reduce to a simmer and simmer for 40 mins – 1hr. Add water if it gets too thick and make sure you stir it regularly.

By this time the tomatoes should have broken down, if not help them along by breaking them up with a wooden spoon and cook for a further 10 – 15 mins. Make sure you taste the sauce at this stage and if it is a little bitter at a teaspoon of sugar.

Season with salt and pepper and leave to the side.

While this is all happening you can get on with preparing the veg. Place a char-grill pan on the stove and heat until blistering hot.

Slice the aubergine and courgettes length wise and drizzle with olive oil.

Char-grill until cooked through (a minute or 2 on each side) remove and place on kitchen paper to soak up any excess oil.

Char-grill the peppers until blackened all over and soft, place in a large bowl and cover to steam then cool so that you can peel them.

Once the peppers are cool enough to handle peel the blackened skin off and remove the seeds, you can keep the “juice” and add it to the sauce if you wish (it has a lovely smokey sweet flavour).

Pumpkin ready for roasting

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Pop the butternut squash into a baking dish – ideally a large one so that there is only one layer. Toss in a little oil and season. Bake in oven until tender and a little golden (about 35 – 35 mins)

Cut the courgettes, aubergine and peppers into bite size pieces (about 1cm strips) and add to the tomato sauce along with the roasted butternut squash. Taste for seasoning and add a little extra virgin olive oil for flavour.

Time now to make the ricotta cheese sauce.

Put the butter into a pan and melt over a low-medium heat, once melted add the flour and stir to make a paste. Cook for a minute or two. Slowly add in the milk, little at a time constantly stirring. Once all the milk is added keep stirring and cook until thickened (coat the back of a spoon).

Remove from the heat and add the grated Parmesan, a large teaspoon of Dijon mustard and season.

Once the sauce has cooled a little fold through the ricotta cheese.

You are now ready to layer up the lasagne.

Add a ladle of the tomato and veg sauce to the dish, spread evenly. Layer the lasagne sheets over this. Top with the cheese sauce (about a ladle) and repeat the process until you have used up the sauces and lasagne sheets or until your lasagne dish is full.

Your last layer should be cheese sauce and a slightly thicker layer. Then sprinkle with parmesan.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 45 min – 1 hour or until cooked through and golden brown.

This can be par cooked sliced and frozen. Serve with a big salad.


Homemade Roast Butternut pumpkin and ricotta ravioli with parmesan cream sauce…..dribble

September 4, 2010

Rolling pasta

I am hoping that the pasta maker will not turn out like the bread maker – 1 month of fun then several years of being tucked away in the back of the cupboard. One week in and I feel like that won’t be happening. Back in Sunny Sydney I made my first homemade pasta with my friend Kate who had been to an Italian cooking course, she arrived at my house Tipo ’00 and pasta maker in hand. We made cracking spinach and ricotta cannelloni. It was sensational and relatively easy. Since then I have had a few pasta making flutters including gnocchi – which, may I add, is VERY easy to make and you do not need any special equipment. (see my recipe for Gnocchi with Gorgonzola and walnuts). Other than that the trusty De Cecco Linguine has been my pasta of choice. Until now! My lovely sister decided to by herself (or should I say me) a pasta maker. After a few minor hiccups we managed to produce a rather wonderful roast butternut pumpkin ravioli with a burnt butter and sage sauce. As this was my first venture back into pasta land I didn’t take any photos (doh!!) So decided to do a re run for “the blog” this week. I didn’t have any sage so whipped up a creamy sauce instead which turned out to be rather delicious. By the way you can make pasta with a rolling pin and a bit of elbow grease – worth giving it a bash if you are not sure whether to invest in a pasta maker. However they are not very expensive you can get one for about £20.



500 grams plain flour (ideally Tipo 00)
6 medium sized eggs or 5 large eggs


200 grams ricotta
50 grams finely grated Parmesan
Approx 800 grams Butternut Pumpkin (squash) whole weight before peeling and de-seeding
Whole nutmeg
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil


1 clove garlic
1 large knob of butter
Salt and pepper
Splash of dry white wine
100 mls double cream
50 grams finely grated Parmesan



To make the pasta dough.

Put flour in a large mixing bowl. Crack eggs into a separate bowl or jug and lightly whisk to combine.

Whisked eggs

Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the egg mix.

Mix eggs in with a fork

Mix together with a fork until egg has been mixed in.

Bring dough together with hands

Bring together with your hands into a dough.

Remove from bowl and knead until smooth. The dough will feel relatively dry – don’t worry it will soften up a little.


Wrap in cling film and rest in fridge for min 30 mins.

Dough wrapped in cling film

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Pumpkin ready for roasting

Peel butternut pumpkin and remove seeds. Cut into 1cm cubes and add to a baking dish. Toss through a little olive oil until coated and pop into the oven.

Bake until soft and a little golden – make sure you check regularly and give the pumpkin a toss around.

Leave to cool.

Mashing pumpkin with fork

Mash with a fork until smooth (ish).

Mashed pumpkin

Add ricotta, grated Parmesan and some nutmeg (about 1/6), mix well to combine. Taste the mixture and add salt and pepper to taste. If you want you can add more Parmesan.

Add ricotta Parmesan and nutmeg

Once the pasta has rested split the dough into 4 smaller balls. Keep one of the balls and re-wrap the rest and place back int he fridge.

Set the pasta maker to the widest setting.

Roll pasta

Flatten the dough into an oval shape, dust in flour to prevent it sticking and feed it through the pasta maker.

N.B. My first try came out with holes through it, this was because there were air bubbles trapped in the dough. I mashed the dough back into a ball and then rolled it out again with a rolling pin – this helped remove the bubbles and kick start the rolling process.

Turn the pasta maker down a notch and roll again, you may need to lightly dust the pasta again with some flour.

Keep doing this until the pasta is about 1mm thick.

Pasta strips with pumpkin mix

Lie the pasta onto a floured surface and cut into 4 cm strips.

Put a small amount (approx 2/3 teaspoon) at one end of the strip and lightly brush around it with water. Fold the other half of the strip over to create a parcel. Be careful not to trap air inside the ravioli as this will expand when cooked and may burst open.

Making ravioli

Keep doing this and lay them out onto a floured tray, do not pile them on top of each other as they may stick – from experience!!


Once you have used your first batch of rolled out pasta you can continue with the rest of the pasta until you have made as many as you wish. This amount of dough and filling should feel 8 people for main course or 14 starters.

You can freeze the pasta, pop them in the freezer on the tray. Once frozen you can bung them in a tub or a bag. You can cook them straight from frozen.

Ok to cook and serve.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add a teaspoon of salt.

Warm a non stick frying pan with the knob of butter and a splash of olive oil.

Butter and garlic

Add crushed garlic and saute for a couple of minutes until soft and sweet – no colour. Add glug of white wine (approx 3 table spoons). Simmer to reduce wine to almost totally evaporated. Add the cream. Simmer until thickened a little then remove from heat and add Parmesan. Stir through and season to taste (you probably won’t need salt).

Add wine

Reduce wine

Pop the pasta into the pot, I probably wouldn’t do not than 4 serves in the one pot.

Ravioli in boiling water

Cook for about 4 minutes then remove one and see if it is cooked. You may need to cook the ravioli for a little longer it really depends on how thick the pasta is – everyone’s pasta is slightly different. Once cooked drain in a colander and toss through sauce, serve immediately in warmed bowls.

Ravioli in cream parmesan sauce


The creamy sauce is great but so is the burnt butter and sage. This is made by taking about 75 grams of butter and heating it on the stove until it is bubbling (this is for 4 people). Do not heat at too high a temp as it may actually burn, you are looking for a nut brown colour. Add sage leaves (about 8 small to medium leaves per person or 4 large). The sage leaves should be crisp once cooked. Pour over the top of the ravioli when it is plated up and top with some finely grated Parmesan.

I am planning on trialing some other filling so will keep you posted!

Mushroom ricotta and herb filo pie

July 26, 2010

Mushroom and ricotta pie

When I made the Spanakopita the other day I thought why limit myself to spinach! The flakey pastry lends itself really well to mushrooms. I absolutely love mushrooms but don’t really eat them very often. When I do eat them I tend to cook them very simply and have them for breakfast on toast or roast large whole mushroom in the oven with a bit of butter and fresh thyme.

One thing that did concern me a little about using mushrooms is they tend to give out a lot of liquid which could be a bit of a disaster for filo. The ingredients must be relatively dry or you end up with a soggy pastry disaster. Nobody likes soggy pastry!

The key here is to slice the mushrooms and roast them in the oven until the liquid has evaporated. They will give out quite a lot of liquid and you will think that it will never evaporate but be patient it will.

Ingredients (8 portions)

1 packet of filo pastry
200 grams of unsalted butter
500 grams of closed cup mushrooms
250 grams of Portobello mushrooms (or large field mushrooms)
1 small bunch of fresh thyme
1 small bunch of flat leaf parsley
1 small bunch of chives
1 medium red onion
4 large cloves of garlic
250 grams of full fat ricotta
150 grams of Parmesan Reggiano
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Fresh nutmeg
Tablespoon of sesame seeds (optional)


Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius


Brush off any dirt from the mushrooms. Do not wash them as they will absorb lots of water. Finely slice the mushrooms and place in a large roasting tin or ceramic baking dish.

Sliced mushrooms with Thyme butter olive oil

Use about 50 grams of the butter and cut into small pieces, dot this over the mushrooms. Strip the thyme leaves from the stalks and sprinkle over the mushrooms too. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Bake in oven making sure you stir every ten minutes to ensure the mushrooms cook evenly. This will take about 35 – 40 minutes. Depending on how mush liquid comes out of the mushrooms – make sure you cook them until nearly all the mushroom juice has evaporated.

Saute onions and garlic

While this is happening finely dice the onion and garlic and saute in a little olive oil with a pinch of salt until soft and sweet. Leave to the side to cool.

Onions and garlic cooked and left to cool

Finely chop the parsley and chives and add to a large bowl. Finely grate the Parmesan and also add to the bowl along with the ricotta. Once the onion is cool also add to the bowl with about 1/3 of a nutmeg very finely grated.

Grated parmesan ricotta parsley and chives

Once the mushrooms are cooked remove from the oven and let cool slightly – I removed them from the ceramic dish and spread them out on a cold plate to speed this process along.

Cooked mushrooms

When the mushrooms have cooled down a bit stir them into the ricotta and herb mix (they can still be warm just not piping hot).

Add mushrooms to ricotta mix

Mix mushrooms with ricotta

Make sure you do not add any “mushroom juice” to your mix – try and keep it as dry as possible.

You are now ready to layer up your filo.

Filo, pie dish and melted butter

Take the rest of the butter and melt.

Chose a rectangular pie dish about the size of half a sheet of filo (no bigger). The dish can be ceramic, pyrex or metal.

With scissors cut the filo pastry in half.

***Tip: Cover your filo with a damp tea towel or kitchen paper when you are not using it as it dries out VERY quickly.

Brush the base of the pie dish with butter and lay a sheet of filo on top. Brush this sheet with butter and lay another sheet on top keep going until you have layered up half the sheets.

Add filling

Take the mushroom mix dollop onto your filo layers. Spread evenly and then start layering the rest of the filo sheets in the same way.

Brush top layer with butter and score through portions

Brush the top of the pie with butter and then take a sharp knife and cut the top layers of pastry into portions. I got 8 good-sized portions out of mine. (do not cut all the way down to the bottom layers).

If your filo pastry is a bit bigger than your dish tuck the overhanging edges down the sides of the pie dish.

I then sprinkled the top of the pie with sesame seeds – this is optional.

Bake in the oven at 220 degrees Celsius for 25 – 35 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.

Serve hot, warm or cold with a cos lettuce salad and a squeeze of lemon.

Mushroom pie

– this is a fab dish and I am going to try to make this in individual triangles or “fingers” to see how it will work for a cocktail party as finger food. Will keep you posted!!