For better or worse, here I am—trapped in paradise. As long as I continue to live in this vital, inimitable spot on the globe,

I will continue to seek out the unique…the delicious…the innovative products, services and traditions of San Luis Obispo County.

Stay posted for a few of my favorite things.

About Me...

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A wanderlust at heart... captivated by the California Central Coast. Join me on my culinary and vino-infused adventures as I explore and discover the regional novelties of San Luis Obispo County that make living here...easy to stay...and hard to leave.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

SLO Corkscrew

Even though my half marathon training has degenerated and I no longer envision 13.1 miles as an achievable victory next month, in the spirit of advice of one of my running heroes, John Bingham, I will still proudly continue to "waddle on." Round and round through the streets and hills of San Luis Obispo I will go. I will also carry on with one very important facet of endurance training that I learned from my participation with Team in Training—carb loading. With my current running schedule and 5K and 10K triumphs on the horizon, images of gooey baked pasta have repeatedly sprung to mind. I went in search of a new recipe and recently took advantage of the 3-day holiday weekend and my 259,200 seconds of freedom (someone check my math, please), to experiment with and adapt the Classic Italian Lasagna recipe by Giada De Laurentiis. I decided this rich repast could benefit from "cellentani," a hollow corkscrew pasta—an amusing choice for this creamy, hearty dish. My version of this recipe fared well and will be sure to keep my tastebuds contented and my glucose levels stored for the winding mileage ahead. Hopefully yours as well.

SLO Cellentani

½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 small shallot, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
8 0z. baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 pound ground sirloin
Salt & pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste
3 teaspoons Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons raw alfalfa honey
2 bay leaves
Splash of red wine
2 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
8 0z. fresh mozarella, diced
15 oz. ricotta cheese
¾ cup grated parmesan
1 pound your favorite pasta
(remember, whole-grain pasta is your waistline's friend)

SLO Bechamel

2 cups organic whole milk
2 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup all-pourpose flour
Pinch or two of nutmeg (freshly grated is best)
2 tablespoons grated parmesan

Feel free to use low-fat cheeses in this dish; however, for the bechamel sauce, whole milk is recommended.

Start by chopping onion, celery, and carrot. Heat oil in large pot over medium heat, add salt & pepper, and throw in veggies. Stir frequently, about 5 - 10 minutes, allowing this aromatic mirepoix to wilt a bit. Next add chopped shallot, garlic and red pepper flakes, continuing to sautée for the next 5 - 10. Use this time to slice your mushrooms and then toss them in the fragrant pot. Stir, stir, stir until this fungus starts to wilt. Then add meat, 2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning, and a bit more salt & pepper to taste. Break up with wooden spoon and cook until beef is browned (about 10 minutes). Add your splash of heart healthy red wine, stir a bit and let alcohol cook out for a few minutes.

Add both cans of tomatoes, honey, and bay leaves. Swish it all together and turn heat to low. Simmer for one hour uncovered to let it thicken, stirring occasionally and adjusting salt & pepper as needed. Meanwhile, in a large pot boil water and cook pasta al dente according to package instructions. When pasta is finished, strain, and rinse with cool water to prevent from sticking. Set pasta aside. Grate parmesan cheese.

During the last 20 minutes of your red sauce's simmer, heat another small pan to medium heat to prepare bechamel sauce. Melt butter. Add flour and whisk until combined with no lumps. Add milk and whisk continously (about 8 - 10 minutes) until the bechamel sauce thickens and bubbles. Remove from heat and whisk in nutmeg and parmesan. Turn off heat for tomato sauce, remove bay leaves, and pour in the rich bechamel. Meld the tangy red sauce with this creamy, rich white pottage.

Heat oven to 350˚F. Take out reamining cheeses and prep. Slice fresh mozarella. Mix ricotta with 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning and salt & pepper to taste. Prepare assembly. In large lasagna pan, spoon sauce to cover bottom and add all pasta. Sprinkle slices of mozarella and spoonfuls of ricotta evenly over pasta. Add remaining sauce over the top. Bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle parmesan over the top and bake for another 20 minutes, or until pasta bubbles and is golden brown on top. Remove from oven and cool for a few minutes. Serve with a glass of red wine to cut the fat.

I served this dish twice over the weekend, both times unsuccessfuly with my wine choices. I'd love to hear your comments about this recipe and any triumphant union of food and wine!


Fresh Local and Best said...

This recipe sounds delicious! I'm going to have to try it out for myself!

Simply Life said...

wow that looks great!

Anonymous said...

so cool that you did TNT! great organization, great cause! i love SLO. i live in berkeley, so not tooooo far. yum that pasta looks great, i love fun shapes!

Sook said...

Mmmm this looks fantastic!

tasteofbeirut said...

I was attracted by your blog because I lived in SLO in the early eighties; my then -husband Paul used to attend Cal Poly (architecture) and it was a paradise. I am glad that you find it to be heavenly still a mere 30 years later!
Great dish especially to reward all your outdoor activities!

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