Tag Archives: Mascarpone

Veggie, Bacon & Cheese Tarts in a Toasted Quinoa Crust

Veggie, Bacon & Cheese Quinoa Tarts

I love making savory tarts and pies, but unfortunately I don’t love the carbs and calories that come along with them. It’s also Summertime, and I’m trying to cook and eat lighter than usual…and the Fall season will come soon enough with all that yummy comfort food!

Quinoa Tart 1

I’ve been experimenting lately with alternatives to pasta and dough – things like zucchini, cauliflower, almond flour, and quinoa. Not only are they lighter, but also , gluten-free and less carbs than traditional flours and equally as satisfying and tasty!

Veggie, Bacon & Cheese Quinoa Tarts

I found a recipe on Cooking Light for a savory Fall tart made in a toasted quinoa crust and decided to experiment a little with the crust, fillings and flavors. MISSION ON.

Toasted Quinoa

I love the flavor of the nutty toasted quinoa, which is done in the oven and gives a nice depth of flavor and crunch to the tart crust.

Toasted Quinoa Tart Shells

I mixed in some Bob’s Red Mill almond flour, corn starch, Parmesan cheese and an egg for binding the quinoa, then added a little garlic salt and olive oil to bring it all together for the crust. Then I pressed the quinoa mixture into four small tart pans and baked for about 10 minutes before filling them and baking again.

Mascarpone & Cheddar

While the tart crusts were baking, I made a savory filling with mascarpone and cheddar cheese and spooned in this delightful cheesy goodness on to the par-baked crusts.

Crispy Cooked Bacon

I also cooked up some crispy gorgeous bacon in the oven while the tarts were baking..(for about 20 minutes or so)..

Top with Crispy Bacon

then chopped it to pieces and layered it on top of the cheeses. HELLO PRETTIES. Come to me.

Blanched Cauliflower and Peas

Next I started filling the tarts with my blanched cauliflower and baby peas,

Veggie Tart fillings

more Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil,

Ready to bake the tarts again

popped them back in the oven..

Tarts Cooling

and baked these cuties for another 5-10 minutes and let them cool on a wire rack for a few…

Tarts cooling

the anticipation of these delicious things in my mouth is MOUNTING.

Cooked Quinoa Tarts

Once the tarts were cooled a bit, I garnished them with some fresh chopped basil, chives and freshly cracked black pepper and a few red pepper flakes. Mini Green Goddesses!

Veggie, Bacon & Cheese Quinoa Tarts

And Oh Holy Delicious.

Veggie Bacon & Cheese Tarts in a Toasted Quinoa Crust

This is a great base recipe for any savory tart really – feel free to substitute different fillings for the tarts depending on the season..butternut squash and spinach in the Fallcorn, tomatoes and zucchini in the Summer… roasted carrotspotatoes and Gruyere in the Winter..asparagus and leeks in the Spring…oh, the ideas are endless!

Veggie Bacon & Cheese Tarts in a Toasted Quinoa Crust

Veggie, Bacon & Cheese Tarts in a Toasted Quinoa Crust

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: Makes four 4 5/7-inch tarts

Serving Size: 1 tart

This is a gluten-free tart recipe made with a toasted quinoa crust, filled with a savory filling of mascarpone and cheddar cheese, bacon, cauliflower, peas topped with Parmesan, and fresh basil and chives.

Ingredients

  • Toasted Quinoa Tart Crust:
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup almond meal flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Cooking spray
  • Tart Filling:
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup baby green peas, frozen
  • 4-5 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (Cheddar, Jack, or Gouda)
  • 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced chives, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Make the Toasted Quinoa Tart Crusts:
  2. Preheat oven to 350°.
  3. Place quinoa on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until golden brown; cool.
  4. Place half of quinoa in a food processor; pulse 30 seconds.
  5. Transfer to a large bowl. Add remaining toasted quinoa, almond meal, cornstarch, and salt to bowl; stir to combine.
  6. Add oil and egg; stir until mixture is crumbly but holds together when pressed.
  7. Press into bottom and up sides of four 4 5/7-inch removable-bottom fluted tart pans coated with cooking spray.
  8. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until golden, but not completely cooked (you will put them back in the oven later after you fill them with the veggies, bacon and cheese.)
  9. Prep the Tart fillings:
  10. While the tart crusts are baking, chop the cauliflower into small florets and measure out the baby peas.
  11. Blanch the veggies in boiling water for about 2-3 minutes, then drain and rinse them in very cold water or shock them in an ice bath, set aside.
  12. Cook the bacon and drain, chop into small chunks, set aside.
  13. Measure out the mascarpone, Cheddar and Parmesan cheese, and chop basil and chives, set aside.
  14. Fill the Tart Crusts:
  15. Spread the mascarpone cheese evenly in bottom of each tart crust.
  16. Top each tart with shredded cheese, then crumbled bacon.
  17. Arrange cauliflower and peas evenly over cheese and bacon mixture on the tarts and drizzle with some olive oil, Parmesan cheese and black pepper.
  18. Bake tarts for another 5-7 minutes in the oven.
  19. Remove tarts from the pans; cool completely on a wire rack.
  20. Garnish with fresh chopped basil and chives, serve warm.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light, Nov 2014.

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Other Tart Recipes you might enjoy:

Savory Harvest Fall Tart

Quinoa Tart with Zucchini & Sundried Tomato Dressing

Gluten-Free Tomato Tart

Gluten-Free Spinach and Onion Tart

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An Interview w/ Italian Chef Pia Vallone :: Spring Vegetable Soup Recipe

Pia Vallone / Mascarpone Mousse
Chef Pia Vallone / Mascarpone Mousse with Almond & Cookie Crumb

I love Italian food. I mean really loooove Italian food.. And who doesn’t? But especially authentic, homemade Italian – cooked with fresh ingredients and simple, healthy recipes that are downright divine. I recently took a cooking class at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City with Chef and Culinary Instructor Pia Vallone, who teaches the Techniques of Italian Cooking course. It was a 5-week intensive class 6 hours long. Lots to learn in a short amount of time. Chef Pia, a native of Italy and graduate of ICE, taught us a a variety of recipes from different regions of Italy spanning the basic recipes and techniques.

Wild Boar Ragu w/ Matriaciani
Wild Boar Ragu w/ Matriciani

We made fresh pasta and risottos, hearty ragus and fresh and creamy sauces, roasted and braised meats, seafood dishes, soups and stews,

Baked Tomatoes with Oregano / Baked Shrimp with Garlic, Parsley & Crumbs
Baked Tomatoes with Oregano / Baked Shrimp with Garlic, Parsley & Crumbs

roasted and braised vegetables (my favorites were the Roasted Tomatoes and Stuffed Wine-braised Artichokes), desserts such as Classic Tiramisu, Mascarpone Mousse and Rustic Italian Apple Crostata,

Radish, Spinach, Romaine and String Bean Salad
Radish, Spinach, Romaine and String Bean Salad

and healthy, fresh Italian salads and small plates.

Making Fresh Ricotta Gnocchi
Making Fresh Ricotta Gnocchi

We always had red and white Italian wine and fresh Italian bread to accompany, and learned the customs of eating the way the Italians do – start with an “antipasti” (appetizer), next order a “primo” (first course usually consisting of pasta, risotto, minestrone or other soups), then pick your main “secondi” (second course usually a meat or fish dish), have a small bit of “formaggi” (cheese) after your main, then on to “dolci” (sweets/desserts such as cheese, fruit, sweet wine, and coffee/cappucino).

Sage Brown Butter
Sage Brown Butter

We made some of the most amazing Italian food during this class and learned classic authentic cooking techniques that I was able to bring home with me to prepare my own delicious Italian food. In fact, I was so impressed with Pia’s class that I had to interview her to share her culinary background and story along with a recipe with all of you! Enjoy.

  1. Can you tell me a little bit about your culinary training and professional background? What was your first job as a Chef and what was that like?

My first and only hands-on restaurant experience was in an Italian restaurant in London (cannot remember the name of the restaurant), near Victoria Station, in the summer of 1978. A friend of mine who worked as an executive chef there, offered me a job as a sous chef. After a month of hard work, I had to leave the restaurant, because my visa was about to expire and soon after, I returned to Italy. The second experience related to food, was working for several years as a bookkeeper for a restaurant and corporate catering. There I learned so much about food and was exposed to new ingredients and flavor profiles, although I worked in the establishment’s office. As for training, I graduated from The Institute of Culinary Education in NYC and hold a Culinary Arts diploma and a Pastry and Baking Arts diploma. I currently work at ICE as a Manager of Kitchen Assistants and as a Recreational Chef Instructor, though I have worked in different areas in the company, within the past 10 years.

  1. When did you realize you wanted to be a Chef? Who inspired you most as a young cook and what did you learn from them?

I always loved cooking and eating, but I began to spend time experimenting with recipes from various kinds of cuisines in my home kitchen, cooking for friends when I arrived to New York in 1980. Wanting to get involved with food and becoming a chef was a second career change for me, which began in 2001.

 My greatest inspiration was my father, who was a gourmand and a terrific cook. I spent many hours in the kitchen with him during my childhood, helping out, observing him and absorbing all the knowledge I could. From my father, I learned passion, love and appreciation of good food and the importance of using fresh ingredients.

  1. Can you tell us a little bit about your culinary style and what makes your menus and recipes unique?

My style is mainly rustic. I like rustic food for its simplicity and because it is nourishes the body and soul. My menus and recipes are unique, because the ingredients I use are accessible and inexpensive.

  1. Is there a difference in the recipes you create/the food you eat in Italy versus the Italian food here in the United States and what are the main differences?

The difference between food in Italy and food here…? Food in Italy is extremely fresh, mostly organic and seasonal. Its flavor(s) cannot be replicated in dishes cooked outside of the Country. Food in Italy is also quite simple. In fact, most of the best food I have ever eaten there was prepared with just a few ingredients. On the contrary, Italian American food is the result of ‘imported’ traditions and transformations, mostly due the immigrant’s longing for the ‘Old Country’. Immigrants, who arrived here tried to capture flavors and freeze memories, by utilizing similar ingredients grown in a different terroir. Nowadays though, great Italian chefs live here in the States, so the differences between Italian food in Italy and the US is narrowing down.

  1. In your opinion, what are the most important elements when creating a recipe from scratch?

The most important elements are: fresh ingredients, simplicity and focus, Make sure to tastes the food while cooking it.

  1. What is your signature dish or your favorite recipe?

My favorite dish is ‘Roman Style Tripe’, a dish that brings back childhood memories.

  1. What is your favorite spice or ingredient to cook with and why?

I love black pepper, which I use in all savory recipes. Besides liking its pungent flavor, I add it to dishes because it helps improve digestion.

  1. What is your favorite cooking gadget or kitchen item you can’t live without and why?

I own many gadgets and often buy the new ones that are the latest invention in the market, but always tend to use the familiar ones over and over. A gadget I cannot live without is a hand held grater, because it is efficient and does not use too much space in the kitchen.

  1. Do you have any advice for aspiring chefs and home cooks?

Start by cooking a simple recipe, one with 4 or 5 ingredients. Learn basic skills and techniques at first and then move on to a larger repertoire. Patience, practice and repetition are important to achieve success with cooking, as with other things in life.

  1. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself?

Yes. I am always looking to inspire others to cook. It is a pleasure to see that people are interested in cooking and familiarizing themselves with ingredients. Sharing passion for food and cooking with people is an all-around relaxing experience for me.

Spring Vegetable Soup
Spring Vegetable Soup

Spring Vegetable Soup

Yield: serves 6

2 small carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 small zucchini, diced
1 small butternut squash, diced
1 bunch escarole, chopped
½ cup peas, frozen
1 tablespoon basil leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
¼ cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for bread and for drizzling on soup
4 quarts chicken stock
1 small ciabatta bread
Sea salt to taste
Pepper to taste

  1. Sauté carrots, celery and onions in a large stock pot over medium heat, for approximately 5 minutes, making sure that you stir the vegetables while they cook.
  2. Add chicken stock to the pan. Increase the heat to high, cover the pan, bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Slice bread into 1” thick slices. Brush slices with the additional olive oil on both sides and place in a sauté pan over low heat. Turn bread slices once and cook until they are golden brown. Place bread in a tray and lightly sprinkle with sea salt. Set aside.
  4. Add butternut squash to the stockpot and cook for 3 minutes.
  5. Add zucchini and peas to the stockpot and cook for 3 more minutes.
  6. Add escarole, basil, parsley, salt and pepper and cook for 4 additional minutes.
  7. Remove two ladles of soup from the stockpot and puree in a blender, then return the pureed soup to the pot (the puree will thicken the soup). Stir and cook for 1 minute, then turn off the heat.
  8. Add some grated cheese into the soup and stir. Ladle soup in individual bowls, drizzle oil and sprinkle additional cheese.

Recipe Copyright © Pia Vallone 2010.

Photo credits: Kristen Hess and Pia Vallone. 

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Crazy Good: Truffled 3-Cheese Pasta w/ Pancetta & Garlic

Truffle-Pancetta-3 Cheese-Pasta

I can’t remember the first time I tried anything made with truffles, but now and then I find myself lusting after these delicious things – let me tell you why..

Truffles have an intoxicating scent and flavor that is indescribable, and make any dish the most delicious thing you will ever experience in your lifetime. I’m not even a huge mushroom fan, but truffles somehow induce euphoria every time I taste or smell them. Unfortunately truffles are pricey, and usually reserved for a special occasion or night out but I felt the urge to splurge and make this dish on an ordinary night, just because. I used a White Truffle Oil in this recipe, which is really just an olive oil infused with the essence of the truffle flavor. If you have the budget to buy some real truffles, feel free to shave some of these beauties straight into the dish. Or you can also use a Truffle butter which has pieces of truffle in it in place of the olive oil.

The nutty, savory and buttery truffle flavor goes perfect with the trio of parmesan, sharp cheddar and mascarpone cheese, making a luscious creamy sauce for the pasta. The pancetta gives the pasta a nice smoky flavor with less fat than regular bacon, and the garlic and onion give it another layer of awesome flavor. You could also substitute mushrooms or spinach in place of the pancetta to make this a vegetarian dish. Topped off with some golden brown buttery crumbs then baked to perfection, and you’ve got a truly divine, grown up pasta dish that will blow your Mama’s Mac and Cheese away.

Oh, and be prepared to swoon upon first bite.

————

In a large saucepan, melt 1 tbsp of butter and saute pancetta over medium-high heat until browned, about 5-7 minutes. Remove pancetta from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Sauteed Pancetta

Add onion and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper and saute for another minute.

Sauteed Onions, Garlic and Red Pepper

Stir in 3 tbsp of butter and let melt, then add flour and stir 1 minute to make a roux (thickener for the cheese sauce). Gradually whisk in 3 1/2 cups of milk and simmer until sauce thickens (stirring often) for 5 minutes, and then remove pan from heat.

Three Cheese Sauce

Whisk in cheddar, mascarpone and parmesan cheeses until smooth, and add a little more milk if the cheese sauce seems too thick. Sprinkle in a dash of nutmeg, a dash of cayenne and a dash of paprika. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir and remove from heat.

Crumb Topping

In a medium skillet, melt 4 tbsp of butter over medium-high heat. Add panko breadcrumbs and stir through so that the butter coats all the crumbs, and they turn a light golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Toasted Breadcrumbs

Remove from the heat and stir in the fresh or dried parsley, set aside.

Pasta

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat a 13×9 casserole or glass baking dish with cooking spray or butter. Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente for 5-8 minutes. Drain the pasta and shock with cold water.

White Truffle Oil

Place pasta into the casserole dish and coat with the truffle oil.

Add Pancetta to the Pasta

Toss in the cooked pancetta…(mmmm!)

Three Cheese sauce

Pour in the cheese sauce…(dreamy!)

Baked to Perfection

Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top of the pasta and bake for 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Heaven on a Plate

Let cool for a few minutes, and dig in! (you’ll never be the same).

Crazy Good :: Truffled 3-Cheese Pasta w/ Pancetta & Garlic

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 8

This is a luscious cheesy pasta dish made with three cheeses, crispy pancetta and truffle oil. Perfect comfort food for a Winter day. And oh so delicious.

Ingredients

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 6 slices of pancetta, chopped
  • 1 c. of onion, chopped fine
  • 1 tsp dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped fine
  • 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 c. whole milk
  • 2 1/2 c grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 c. grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 8-8.8 oz container mascarpone cheese
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • Dash of cayenne
  • Dash of sweet paprika
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 c. japanese panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 c. chopped fresh Italian parsley (or 1 tbsp dried)
  • 4 tbsp white truffle oil
  • 1 lb. tube pasta (macaroni, penne, rigatoni, or your choice)

Instructions

  1. Make the Cheese Sauce:
  2. In a large saucepan, melt 1 tbsp of butter and saute pancetta over medium-high heat until browned, about 5-7 minutes. Remove pancetta from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  3. Add onion and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper and saute for another minute.
  4. Stir in 3 tbsp of butter and let melt, then add flour and stir 1 minute to make a roux (thickener for the cheese sauce). Gradually whisk in 3 1/2 cups of milk and simmer until sauce thickens (stirring often) for 5 minutes, and then remove pan from heat.
  5. Whisk in cheddar, mascarpone and parmesan cheeses until smooth, and add a little more milk if the cheese sauce seems too thick. Sprinkle in a dash of nutmeg, a dash of cayenne and a dash of paprika. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir and remove from heat.
  6. Make the Crumb Topping:
  7. In a medium skillet, melt 4 tbsp of butter over medium-high heat. Add panko breadcrumbs and stir through so that the butter coats all the crumbs, and they turn a light golden brown, about 5 minutes.
  8. Remove from the heat and stir in the fresh or dried parsley, set aside.
  9. Make the Truffled Pasta:
  10. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat a 13x9 casserole or glass baking dish with cooking spray or butter. Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente for 5-8 minutes. Drain the pasta and shock with cold water.
  11. Place pasta into the casserole dish and coat with the truffle oil.
  12. Toss in the cooked pancetta...(mmmm!)
  13. Pour in the cheese sauce...(dreamy!)
  14. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top of the pasta and bake for 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
  15. Let cool for a few minutes, and dig in! (you'll never be the same).

Notes

You can also use any pasta you like, but make sure to use something with ridges or curls to catch all the creamy cheesy sauce. Substitute a veggie for the pancetta such as spinach or mushrooms to make this a vegetarian dish.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit Pasta Favorites, 2010.

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