Turkey Lasagna

Turkey Lasagna

We’ve made quite a few lasagna dishes here at Ali Does It.  Some of them have been pretty fancy, while others were more simple.  Sometimes it’s the simplest things that are the best, as you know.  But sometimes a teensy tweak of those simplest things makes them even better.  This particular lasagna dish is pretty classic, as things go, but I used ground turkey instead of beef for a bit of a lighter meal, and then added eggplant to the mix because I remembered the richness of it in the lasagna I made with béchamel.

This recipe makes enough for two small (7″ x 10″) dishes, and freezes really well.

Dice up an onion or two and sauté the pieces with a bit of olive oil and some minced garlic in a large saucepan until tender and translucent, a few minutes.

Turkey Lasagna

Chuck in a package of ground turkey, and stir it around until it’s all broken up and the pieces are no longer pink.

Turkey Lasagna

Chop up a medium-sized eggplant, two red peppers, and a handful of mushrooms and add those to the mix.

Turkey Lasagna

Add in two cans tomato sauce and simmer that for a few minutes.  If you’re planning to cook this right away, then keep it warm, but if you’re planning to freeze the lasagna then feel free to let it cool.

Turkey Lasagna

In a bowl, mix together two tubs ricotta cheese with two cups chopped spinach (fresh or frozen, your choice).

Turkey Lasagna

Now you can put it all together.  Start with your oven-ready lasagna noodles.  Stick them raw into your dish to line the bottom. Scoop on a generous amount of your tomato/turkey sauce and smooth it down.

Turkey Lasagna

Add another layer of noodles, then a heap (half, if you’re making two lasagnas) of ricotta mixture.  Smooth that down.

Turkey Lasagna

More noodles, and you’re probably reaching the top of your container right about now.  Scoop on a final layer of tomato/turkey sauce and then sprinkle the top with a generous layer of grated mozzarella cheese.

Turkey Lasagna

Let the dish cool completely before freezing, or pop it in the oven right away.

You can bake this, uncovered, from frozen at 400°F for 30-40 minutes, or until the top is bubbly and the cheese is starting to brown.

Here are some of the other Ali Does It lasagna dishes for your review:

Beef Lasagna with Eggplant and Béchamel

Egg Won Ton Lasagna

Roasted Vegetable and Tofu Lasagna

Quick Mini Dips: Tzatziki and Chipotle Mayo

Quick Mini Dips

I get into trouble often with the Pie for making too much of something, which means we are left with leftovers well past the time when such leftovers retain any appeal.  As a result, I’m trying my best to cut down on the size of things I make, even if I’m not using a recipe.  I have discovered, when it comes to dips and sauces, the best way to keep them small is to actually construct them WITHIN the container in which you plan to serve them.  It even saves you having to wash an extra bowl.

Quick Mini Dips

These two dips can be made in minutes, and they provide a great side for fried or baked chicken, potatoes, burgers, na’an … you name it.  Making them in sealable containers meant that we could take them outside for a Victoria Day picnic.

For the Tzatziki:

In your container, place a dollop of minced garlic (about a teaspoon) and another of fresh chopped dill (this stuff came in a tube, so it’s a generous squirt, if that helps with your measurements).  I wouldn’t use dried dill, if you can avoid it.  I don’t think the flavour would be strong enough.  Then you want to grate up about 4 or 5 inches of cucumber.  It gets messy.

Quick Mini Dips

Squeeze your grated cucumber to get out the excess water and plop it in your container.

Quick Mini Dips

Fill the rest of the container up with Greek yogurt.  You can use plain Balkan-style yogurt but the Greek is thicker.

Quick Mini Dips

Give that a stir and let it sit for a little bit.  Yum!

Quick Mini Dips

For the Chipotle Mayo:

In your container, plop a few shakes chipotle seasoning, together with a couple drops tabasco sauce and a dollop of minced garlic.

Quick Mini Dips

Fill the container up with a combination of mayonnaise and sour cream or Greek yogurt.  I used half mayonnaise, then a quarter yogurt and a quarter sour cream.

Quick Mini Dips

Stir that up well (make sure to scrape up all the goodness on the bottom) and let that sit a bit.  It’s got some kick!

Quick Mini Dips

Tipsy Asiago Chicken Noodles

Asiago Chicken Noodles

Before we begin, let me clarify something.  This recipe does not contain any alcohol.  Rather, it was I who contained alcohol when I made it.  When you have your first few days of spring here in St. John’s, where the temperature goes up to the double digits (even 10 is sufficient) and it’s sunny ALL DAY, then the whole city mysteriously sells out of beer.  And I’m not even joking.  So this recipe came after a beer and a half on a day where I had forgotten my lunch.  As a result, I didn’t measure a darned thing.  Not that I usually measure anything anyway.

First let’s work on our component parts.  Chop up about 2 broccoli florets.

Asiago Chicken Noodles

Steam them for a few minutes until they’re bright green.

Asiago Chicken Noodles

Slice up 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

Asiago Chicken Noodles

Sauté them with a bit of garlic and olive oil until they’re cooked through.

Asiago Chicken Noodles

Boil up some egg noodles until tender.

Asiago Chicken Noodles

If you have them (I didn’t), I would also recommend chopping up and cooking some mushrooms, as well, to complement the cheese and to add flavour to the chicken.

And the sauce is easy peasy.  Start with grating up some asiago, or whatever cheese you like.  In hindsight, the Pie and I think we would temper the asiago with something a little more mild, like a white cheddar.

Asiago Chicken Noodles

Finely chop 1 onion.

Asiago Chicken Noodles

Plop that in a small saucepan with a dollop of butter and another dollop of garlic.

Asiago Chicken Noodles

Sauté the onions until they are translucent.

Asiago Chicken Noodles

Add in about 2 tablespoons flour and stir that around to get all the onions coated in flour.

Asiago Chicken Noodles

Pour in some milk, and stir to thicken.  Add in a bit more milk, then add the cheese and stir it in until it’s all melted.

Asiago Chicken Noodles

Toss your broccoli (mushrooms) and chicken in the pot with the cooked, drained egg noodles and toss that around.

Asiago Chicken Noodles

Add the sauce and toss to coat.  Serve immediately.  Serves six.

Asiago Chicken Noodles

Mags’ Cheesy Manicotti

Mags' Cheesy Manicotti

Today is my little sister-in-law Mags’ birthday and I promised her a pasta dish.  Because I’m not around to make it for her in person, perhaps she can persuade Mrs. Nice to whip it up for a birthday treat.  Her brother certainly enjoyed it.  Happy birthday Mags!

The measurements for this are approximate, and I’m going to jump back and forth between metric and Imperial because I’m Canadian and I can.

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Plop about 500g thawed frozen spinach in a bowl, together with 500g cottage cheese, 1/2 cup strong-flavoured cheese, grated (I used romano, but parmesan would also be good), and 2 teaspoons dried oregano.

Mags' Cheesy Manicotti

Stir it silly and then season with pepper.

Mags' Cheesy Manicotti

Take a jar of chunky tomato-based pasta sauce and spread 1/3 of it on the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ baking dish.

Mags' Cheesy Manicotti

Now take a package of uncooked manicotti shells (usually there are 14 shells in a box) and stuff them with the cottage cheese/spinach mixture. Lay them on top of the sauce in the dish.

Mags' Cheesy Manicotti

This was my first one, which I tried to stuff with a spoon.  I got a little too enthusiastic and it exploded everywhere.  After that I used my fingers. And I’m still trying to figure out how to get the spinach out of my kitchen stereo speakers.

Mags' Cheesy Manicotti

And then when I got to the end of my pan I found I had run out of space, so that’s why they are all spastic here.  Plus I dropped in the leftover cottage cheese/spinach mix as well.  Aesthetics are not really my strong suit.

Mags' Cheesy Manicotti

Mags' Cheesy Manicotti

Mix 1/2 cup water with the remainder of your pasta sauce and pour it over the top of the uncooked stuffed noodles.

Mags' Cheesy Manicotti

Bake, uncovered, for an hour, until it is bubbling all the way through.  Then sprinkle with 2 cups grated mozzarella and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes.

Mags' Cheesy Manicotti

Let your lava-like pasta stand for a few minutes before serving.  Not the most attractive photo, but that didn’t stop the Pie from going back for seconds.

Mags' Cheesy Manicotti

Lovers’ Sweet Potato and Mushroom Ravioli

Lovers' Ravioli

We don’t tend to celebrate Valentine’s Day.  We’re totally broke, for one thing, and for another, we’d rather not have to spend a day doing obligatory and clichéed things to tell each other how we feel.  We do that on a daily basis anyway.

States of Gren

I am of course talking about our love for Gren.  Duh.  He’s so smooshy.  In the words of Cait, “I want to smoosh him.  With smooshes.”  We definitely smoosh him regularly.

States of Gren

In any case, because it’s expected of us (and because nobody ever wants to do anything with us on Valentine’s Day), we usually have a nice meal together and talk about how stupid this Hallmark holiday is.

If you are of the same bent, or if you love to do smooshy romantic things for your true love, why not make up some fresh pasta and go from there?

I figured I would give ravioli a try.  Why the heck not?

The ingredients for each component of this are so simple. The only one I really measured for was the pasta dough, because I’m not yet at the eyeballing stage for that.

For the ravioli filling:

Lovers' Ravioli

You will need sweet potatoes, dried shiitake mushrooms (you can use fresh ones but I like the chewy texture of the dried ones), and roasted garlic.

Plop a handful or two dried shiitake mushrooms in a bowl of warm water and leave them for 30-60 minutes, or until all tender.  I find that placing a small plate on top ensures they all get evenly exposed to water.

Lovers' Ravioli

While those are percolating, peel and cube a large sweet potato.  This one weighed in at 1 3/4lb.  Plop that in a pot full of water and boil until tender.

Lovers' Ravioli

Drain the sweet potatoes and mash ’em.

Lovers' Ravioli

Take your hydrated mushrooms out of the water, cut off the woody stems, and chop them finely.

Lovers' Ravioli

I found that after chopping, a quick sojourn in the food processor got them to the size I wanted them.

Lovers' Ravioli

Save the water from your mushrooms — it makes a great vegetable stock.

Lovers' Ravioli

I made this roasted garlic last week from three heads of garlic.  If you click on the link above you can see how I did it.  I’m going to use all three heads, because the Pie and I have been together for almost eight years, so it’s not going to matter how much garlic we consume.  Do exercise some caution if you’re new to the relationship and you’re still trying to impress … Though I suppose if you both consume the same amount of garlic it really doesn’t matter, does it?

Lovers' Ravioli

Anyway, I plopped that in the food processor as well (with a drop of olive oil) and came out with a lovely aromatic paste.

Lovers' Ravioli

In a bowl, combine your mashed sweet potato, the minced mushrooms, and the garlic paste and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Lovers' Ravioli

Stir that around and set it aside.

Lovers' Ravioli

For the ravioli pasta:

Lovers' Ravioli

For this you need durum semolina flour, salt, and eggs.  Semolina is perfect for making pasta because it has an extremely high gluten content, which means that your pasta will stay cohesive even when immersed in boiling water.  That is kind of important.

So take 3 eggs and whisk them together with a pinch of salt.  I like to add in a few drops of olive oil, as well, for smoothness.

Lovers' Ravioli

Pour 2 cups durum semolina flour on a clean work surface, make a well in the centre, and pour in the eggs.

Lovers' Ravioli

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.  I wish I’d thought of it sooner so I could have made a better heart.

Lovers' Ravioli

Using a scraper and/or a fork, gradually incorporate the eggs into the flour until you have a coherent ball.

Lovers' Ravioli

I used some regular all-purpose flour at the end, just to reduce the tackiness of the dough a bit.  You will want to knead it for about 10 minutes, just to get all the gluten working for you.

Lovers' Ravioli

Wrap up your final ball and let it rest for about 20 minutes.

Lovers' Ravioli

Cut your dough into manageable sections.  I cut mine into four.  Flatten out your first section enough so it fits into your pasta machine.  If you are rolling it out by hand, have fun with that.

Lovers' Ravioli

I prefer my pasta maker.

Lovers' Ravioli

I cut my strips in half, so that I could fold the second half over the top half like a mirror image.  Though it does help if your top half is slightly bigger than your bottom half.

Lovers' Ravioli

Put little dollops of your filling on your bottom sheet with enough space in between so you can cut them easily.

Lovers' Ravioli

Carefully line up the top half and lay it over the filling.

Lovers' Ravioli

Working from the inside out, gently stretch and press the top dough over the filling to form little pockets.

Lovers' Ravioli

When each pocket is sealed, use a knife or a ravioli cutter to separate them.

Lovers' Ravioli

For this first round, I went all the way up to the #7 setting on my pasta maker, which made the pasta sheets very thin — a little too thin.  You can see how they have torn and I had to patch them.

Lovers' Ravioli

The next round, I only went up to the #5 setting, which was much more manageable, and I prepared the ravioli on waxed paper, which made peeling them up much easier. I probably could have gone as high as #6, but I’m still new to this.

Lovers' Ravioli

I separated each round of pasta with waxed paper to prevent sticking.

Lovers' Ravioli

I had some leftover filling, which I froze.  I would gladly make this again.

Lovers' Ravioli

Now, set a pot of water to boil with a pinch of salt and a few drops of olive oil, and get started on your sauce.

For the sauce:

Lovers' Ravioli

You will need butter, sage, lemon juice, and parmesan cheese.

Slice 10-12 sage leaves finely to ensure all their lovely aromatic juices get released.

Lovers' Ravioli

To save time and my sanity (I really hate grating cheese), I cubed up about 1/3 cup of my extra-hard parmesan and gave it a go in the food processor.  Totally worth it.

Lovers' Ravioli

So for your mis en place you have your sage, chopped, your cheese, grated, about 1/2 cup lemon juice, and about 4-5 tablespoons butter.

Lovers' Ravioli

By now, your pasta water should be boiling, so carefully tip all your ravioli in and cook them for about 8 minutes.

Lovers' Ravioli

While that is going on, in a large, wide, deep frying pan on medium-high heat, melt your butter.

Lovers' Ravioli

Continue to cook the butter, scraping the bottom with a spatula to prevent burning, until it starts to foam up and the clear liquid turns a lovely light caramel brown colour.  Add in your sage leaves and remove the butter from the heat.

Lovers' Ravioli

See the brownness?

Lovers' Ravioli

Pour in your lemon juice and give that a stir. Oh man does that ever smell good. Like all the best parts of everything.

Lovers' Ravioli

Drain your pasta and plop them in the frying pan with the butter.  Pour in your cheese and toss the lot to coat.

Lovers' Ravioli

Lovers' Ravioli

Serve it up, with plenty of leftovers.

Lovers' Ravioli

Though  none for Gren.  Much to his disappointment.

Lovers' Ravioli

Snow Day Dinner: Pasta Carbonara

Snow Day Dinner

As I said before, the charming Fussellette braved icy streets and our own half-assed driveway-shoveling job to make it to our house on Friday for a gluten-free extravaganza.  I decided to make pasta carbonara, not only because it’s freaking amazing, but also for another, rather peculiar reason.

Chel (she of the wedding cake), back before she married Invis, was dating this other fella who was from England.  And when she went to the UK to meet his parents, the fella’s mum made a pasta with a white sauce that Chel (who hates cheese and most things creamy) absolutely adored.  Problem is, of course, that the breakup didn’t go so well and she has since married someone else, someone who doesn’t know anything about this recipe.

So for the past year or so she has been puzzling this out.  She knew it wasn’t an alfredo, and she pooh-poohed my suggestion of a béchamel.  Last week she suggested it might be a carbonara.  Now, despite the fact that this woman is a tech genius, it didn’t occur to her to look on the internet herself and experiment with the various recipes.  Instead, she comes and asks me.  Silly girl (love you squishee!).  So it’s up to me to see if what I cobble together tastes like the heaven that SHE ate some time ago.  Also remember that she lives in Toronto, so it’s not like she can pop over for a bite.

So here goes.  I pulled inspiration from a bunch of different carbonara recipes, so I think you can be pretty flexible with your ingredients.

This is a pasta that you toss before serving, so it’s recommended that you use something like a penne, or that which is easy to stir around.  We had our fresh gluten-free linguini, so we just had to suck it up for this occasion.  This is also a recipe that you make on the fly — aside from cutting up the vegetables ahead of time, you pretty much have to do this all as you cook and then serve it immediately.

Snow Day Dinner

So let’s start with what prep work we can get out of the way.

Take 12 or so slices of bacon and cut them into little bits.  You can also use pancetta or prosciutto, or any other strongly flavoured cured pork.

Snow Day Dinner

Dice up an onion, a handful of mushrooms, and the florets from one head of broccoli.  You could also use zucchini, sweet peppers, any number of vegetable.  Go with what you’ve got in your fridge.  Don’t try to be too fancy.

Snow Day Dinner

Finely grate up about two hefty handfuls of parmesan cheese.  Because I have tiny munchkin hands, I got the Pie to do this part (also because I hate grating cheese and I’d already skinned off part of my finger).  His hands are sizeable.  He can cover my whole face with part of one hand.

Put one handful of cheese in a pretty serving dish and put it on the table for garnish.  Take the other handful and dump it in a measuring cup with 1 cup whipping cream and 4 egg yolks.

Snow Day Dinner

Give that a good stir and set it aside.

Snow Day Dinner

Set a pot of slightly salted water to boil (if you’re using fresh pasta, add a few drops of olive oil to prevent the pasta from sticking together). Cook your pasta.  You need to time it so that the vegetables are ready at the same time the noodles are.

Snow Day Dinner

In a very large, deep frying pan, heat up about 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Chuck in your bacon and fry until it’s crispy.

Snow Day Dinner

Chuck in the onions and stir for a few minutes until they start to become translucent.

Snow Day Dinner

Then add the rest of your vegetables, and cook, stirring often, until they are all tender and bacon-flavoured. I also sprinkled on some herbes de provence for extra flavour.  Thyme or oregano would also work well.

Snow Day Dinner

When you drain your pasta, reserve about half a cup of the cooking water.  Toss the pasta in with the vegetables and add a bit of the water.  Use only as much as you need to help coat the pasta with sauce.  If you like your sauce thick, add a few tablespoons.  If you like your sauce thin, add the full half cup.

Snow Day Dinner

Remove the pan from the heat and pour in your cream/egg/cheese sauce.  Toss to coat the pasta and then serve immediately.

Snow Day Dinner

Garnish with the extra parmesan, and go back for seconds.  Serves 4 generously.

Snow Day Dinner

Snow Day Dinner: Gluten-Free Linguini

Snow Day Dinner

Fussellette has recently discovered that she is a celiac and can no longer digest wheat gluten.  So now when we have her for dinner we have to take that into account, and can no longer offer the very dough-heavy meals that are traditional favourites for our Newfoundland friends.

Friday here in St. John’s was a snow day.  The whole city, including the court systems, the municipal and provincial governments, were shut down due to a sudden snow squall.  Fussellette decided to brave the winter weather, however, and made it to our house for dinner.  In honour of the weather, I decided on some form of comfort food, and in my mind that usually equals pasta.  For Fussellette, that means gluten-free pasta. This recipe makes enough for four servings.

Fortunately Sobeys has a large selection of gluten-free flours to choose from.  Just remember, however, when you’re baking with gluten-free flour, such as a rice flour, you still need a thickener, such as a starch, and a binding agent to replace the gluten.  Usually the binding agent is something called xanthan gum.

Snow Day Dinner

So to make this pasta, I had to do some mixing.

In a bowl, mix 1 1/3 cup brown rice flour, 2/3 cup arrowroot starch, 1 teaspoon xanthan gum, and 1 teaspoon fine sea salt.  Whisk that together thoroughly.

Snow Day Dinner

In a smaller bowl, whisk together 2 large eggs and 2 large egg yolks.  Save the whites for an omlette or meringue or something.  Add in 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons water and mix again until it’s fully combined.

Snow Day Dinner

Now comes the fun part.  You can simply pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredient bowl and stir, or you can do it on the counter in the old fashioned way.  Dump the dry stuff carefully out on your work surface.  Using a scraper, make a deep well in the centre.

Snow Day Dinner

Carefully pour in the egg mixture.

Snow Day Dinner

Using the scraper again, and your hands, start mixing the flour into the egg.  Work quickly, or your egg may form a river that will wind its way off your counter top.  The scraper, I found, is handy for cutting through the dough to make sure it mixes properly.

Snow Day Dinner

It should be cohesive but not tacky. Feel free to add more flour or water if you’re not getting the right consistency. Form the finished dough into a long cylinder and cut it into four sections.

Snow Day Dinner

Flatten those sections, wrap them tightly in plastic, and refrigerate them until you’re ready to make pasta.

Snow Day Dinner

You have a few options in how to make your pasta.  You could roll it out by hand and then cut it into long strips, but there is so much room for error in that, especially if you are working with a gluten-free pasta that barely sticks together on its own.

Snow Day Dinner

I opted to use a pasta maker.  This one here seems to be the standard one.  My parents own the same one so I know how to use it.  Most people who have a pasta maker own this one.  You can find them pretty cheap in second-hand stores.  I guess people get them as wedding presents and then never use them.  That’s where this one came from, and it had never been used before we busted it out.

Snow Day Dinner

So we used our awesome machine to thin out and cut our pasta into linguini.  We were originally going to go with spaghetti but we were concerned the pasta wouldn’t hold together all that well if it were smaller.  I recommend using two people to operate a pasta maker.  It may be awkward trying to figure out whose arms go where, but it’s handy to have one person operate the crank while the other feeds the dough through the machine and pulls it out the bottom to prevent tangling.

Snow Day Dinner

We laid the cut pasta out for a few hours to dry a bit, just to make sure it wouldn’t completely dissolve when we cooked it.

Snow Day Dinner

To cook, add a pinch of salt and a few drops of olive oil to your water before you boil it.

Fussellette said that this pasta was better than the stuff she finds at the store, because once the gluten-free pasta is dried it is hard to cook it all the way through and she says it’s often chewy on the inside.  Because this stuff is fresh it takes only about 6 minutes to cook and you know it will be nice and tender throughout.

Snow Day Dinner

Stay tuned on Wednesday to see what we did with it!

Blue Egg Group

Happy Friday the 13th!

Blue Egg Group

I do not suffer from triscadecaphobia, the fear of Friday the 13th.  Normally it’s an extremely lucky day for me.

And true to form, what do I get but some fresh St. Phillips BLUE eggs, a gift from Miss Awesome?  It’s always my lucky day.

Blue Egg Group

Aren’t these beautiful?

Blue Egg Group

I don’t want to waste them on something banal, so stay tuned for the amazingness I plan to create with them.

Blue Egg Group

I have a number of project ideas lined up for the next few weeks, but they all take a bit of time, so please be patient with me if the posts you’ve been seeing are a little simpler than you are used to.  As Blackadder would say, it’s all part of my cunning plan …

Wingin’ It Wednesday: Salmon with Roasted Veg and Israeli Couscous

Wingin' It Wednesday

Most of the time, I don’t photograph every step of what I am cooking.  Hard to believe.  But the majority of my days are spent in getting home a little after dark, walking the fiend, and then trying to create dinner out of what’s left in my fridge.  Sometimes it works.  Sometimes it doesn’t.  Sometimes if it works, I remember enough about it to recreate it another time.  Sometimes.

So I’m introducing Wingin’ It Wednesdays to you here.  These are meals that I haven’t paid enough attention to, ones I couldn’t tell you what I did to make them.  But they turned out okay, and usually they were a spur-of-the-moment concoction of the dregs of my pantry.  They might help to inspire you when you’re looking for that middle-of-the-week meal at the last minute.

This dinner was Atlantic Salmon that I pulled out of my freezer (the Pie was out).

Wingin' It Wednesday

I had picked up some Israeli couscous from Auntie Crae’s back before it shut down, and I’d never tried it, so here was a good opportunity.  After having tried it, I think I prefer regular couscous, though this would be good in a soup.

Wingin' It Wednesday

I also roasted a sweet potato and a buttercup (not butternut) squash with a little bit of olive oil.

Wingin' It Wednesday

Tasty, tasty.

What’s in your pantry/fridge/freezer that you’ve been meaning to try but haven’t?