Whether you call itCarnevale, Mardi Gras or Carnival, the decadent February feasts celebrated in Italy, New Orleans and Brazil are a treat. In Venezia, where the S&T family has deep generational roots, international revelers come far and wide to showcase their elaborate costumes – typically a year in the making. Today, Shrove Tuesday or “Fat Tuesday” is the pinnacle of the decadence before the season of Lent commences. So in honor ofCarne vale (which means “remove the meat” in Latin), we will enjoy meat to our hearts content today with this rich, satisfying lasagna! The bright bite of the rapini ricotta filling is the perfect balance to the luxe bechamel and hearty meat sauce. Personal photos of Carnevale are added for your enjoyment.
Recipe for Carnevale Meat Sauce
3 slices thick bacon, cut into lardons
1- onion, diced
1 1/2 carrots, shredded
1/4 fennel bulb, diced
2 cloves or garlic, minced
2 1/2 lb of meats (ground turkey, beef, veal, italian sausage or pork)
4 oz diced prosicutto (or other cured meat like salami or coppa)
1 cup red wine
1 cup milk
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 cup marinara sauce
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp S&T Special Pasta blend
1 tsp oregano
1 bay leaf
Saute bacon in 2 tbsp olive oil for 5 minutes. Add onion, carrot, fennell and garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Add all meats and brown for 5-7 minutes. Add 1/2 cup red wine, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer. Once liquid is almost absorbed, addtomatoe paste and the other 1/2 cup of wine. Once almost absorbed, add 1/2 milk. Repeat. Add all spices, bay leaf and marinara sauce. Simmer for 30-45 minutes on low heat.
Recipe for Bechamel Sauce
8 tbsp butter
6 tbsp flour
4 cups milk
1/2 onion, shredded
onion pique – 1/2 onion (whole) studded with cloves and bay leaf inserted inside
freshly grated nutmeg
Melt 5 tbsp butter in medium saucepan on low heat. Add the flour little by little whisking vigorously to create a roux. The result should appear like sand at low tide. Add remaining butter, shredded onions and milk – whisking vigourously to remove lumps. Add onion pique and simmer for 20 minutes until thickened. Add nutmeg to taste. Pour through a mesh sieve to remove clumps and onion pique.
Recipe for Rapini Ricotta Filling:
1 bunch ofrapini or broccoli rabe, cooked and pureed in food procesor
16 oz ricotta
1 egg, beaten
2 cups shredded mozzarella (reserve one cup for layering)
1 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese (reserve 1/2 cup for layering)
2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley (chopped)
Combine all ingredients until well incorporated.
Assembling the Rapini Lasagna with Carnevale Meat Sauce
Pour 2 ladles of bechamel sauce at the bottom of a lasagna pan. Place a layer of cooked lasagna noodles. Add rapini ricotta filling by spoonfuls and gently smooth out the layer. Add a layer of meat sauce. Add a layer of bechamel topped with mozzarella and parmigianno-reggiano. Repeat. Final layer should be cooked lasagna noodles dusted with cheeses.
Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour in 375 degree oven. Remove foil and cook another 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and let it sit covered for 15 minutes.
This Burgundian classic dish combines fresh braised or boiled leeks with a tangy Dijon vinaigrette. It can be served as a starter prior to a full-bodied stew like coq au vin or boeuf bourguignon. I particularly enjoy serving it as a main lunch course with a crusty warm baguette. Afterwards I enjoy my favorite pungent cheese from the Burgundy region, Epoisses.The Dijon vinaigrette is enhanced with minced shallots and S&T Elegant Salad Blend. Leeks can be found year round in grocery stores making this recipe appropriate for all seasons. Serve with a simple French Chardonnay.
Recipe for Poireaux Vinaigrette (Braised Leek Salad)
4 large leeks, trimmed of rough ends – halved lengthwise
2 cups of water
Salt and pepper
4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 shallot, minced
1 tbsp S&T Elegant Salad Blend
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Pommery grainy mustard
1 TBSP white wine vinegar or lemon juice
Clean trimmed leeks well by soaking in cold water. Rinse. Place leeks in boiling salted water, reduce to simmer, cover and braise for approx 15 minutes until cooked but still retain some texture integrity. If serving warm, set aside covered. If serving cold, shock the cooked leeks in a bowl of ice water. Drain well. Mix remaining ingredients to compose the vinaigrette. Plate the leeks and top with vinaigrette. Serves 2.
In the dead of winter I find myself reminiscing about fond summer memories. If you need a quick hit of summer too, this vibrant dish will do it! This typical Provençal ratatouille is roasted rather than pan-cooked. The caramelized eggplant, zucchini, onions, peppers and tomatoes will transport you. Toss on a few olives and the South of France is yours…on a plate!
Recipe for Roasted Ratatouille
One medium Japanese eggplant, cut in chunks Two zucchini, sliced and then halved One red pepper, cut in chunks One yellow pepper, cut in chunks One medium onion, cut in large chunks 6-8 garlic cloves (whole in paper) One pint of grape tomatoes, sliced in half 5 TBSP olive oil 2 TBSP S&T Special Pasta Ratatouille blend Handful of good quality olives Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degree. On large rimmed baking sheet, combine all vegetables and garlic (except tomatoes and olives). Drizzle olive oil and special pasta ratatouille blend over the vegetables coating all sides. Salt and pepper. Make sure vegetables are in a single layer. Roast in oven for 20 minutes. Add tomatoes and olives and roast another 5 minutes until tomatoes are heated through.
The evening before Thanksgiving is the busiest pizza delivery day of the entire year. Skip that 45 minute wait and prepare this zingy, hearty and healthy Za ‘atar Spinach Feta Pizza in half that time. The citrusy sumac, oregano, thyme and sesame seeds in the za’atar give the pizza its Middle Eastern flair. The tangy herbed feta and lemon brighten it up. It’s the perfect prelude pizza to the anticipated next day feast!
Recipe for Za’atar Spinach Feta Pizza
Pizza dough (refrigerated or bought from pizzeria) 1 tbsp cornmeal 5 tbsp olive oil 2 tbsp za’atar juice of half a lemon 12 oz baby spinach 2 garlic cloves, smashed 4 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced 5-6 oz herbed feta, crumbed 4 oz goat cheese (aged or fresh)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine olive oil, za’atar and lemon juice in small bowl. Dust cornmeal on a baking sheet. Stretch the pizza dough into a rectangle to fit the baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes. Saute spinach in pan on stove with 1 tbsp water and smashed garlic for 1-3 minutes until just wilted. Remove crust from oven and prick with a fork to release the heat if puffed up. Spread the za’atar mixture generously over the crust. Top with spinach (minus garlic), cheeses and finally tomatoes. Bake 12-15 minutes until the cheese is melted and crust edges are browned. Serves 6