Apr 11, 2013

Rizini with vegetables al pecorino

Winter is almost over but I don't see signs of spring on the market yet. I had an idea for 
parsnips. I have not used them yet this season. I browsed through some recipes. Ina Garten's recipe looked good, but after reading it, I decided it against. Another 2 hour recipe, more braising. Non merci

I had a chunk of Pecorino Sardo waiting for a special occasion. I bought a pound of it during a special Italian week in my local chain store. That's the only time I buy it. I don't get much satisfaction overspending on foreign but basic food. If I don't buy it during the Italian week, I wait and purchase it in the country of origin.

Pecorino - cheese from pecora, or sheep. Sardo - from Sardinia. Do I need to say more? Can it be bad? No, it can't. This is my favorite cheese. I don't know if it's because whenever I'm in a warm/dry country, I like seeing sheep grazing on grass, crossing the streets, rubbing against each other, making little noises. Or is it that the taste is truly admirable. More delicate, less sweet, little sharper, more salty than Parmesan. I swear I can taste the grazing fields.

So when I saw this recipe, using just Pecorino and pasta, I knew it had to be good. And fast. And simple. And I could even incorporate my parsnips, some carrots and spinach and still make it taste Sardinian. I never cooked with Pecorino. I never cooked Pecorino. The sauce for this recipe consisted of only fresh Pecorino  melted on top of hot water. My Pecorino was of hard and aged variety. So I used less cheese and I added whipping cream to make more delicate sauce. Nice idea.

Idea from Giallo Zafferano

time: 40 min


300 g (10 oz)parsnips
300 g (10 oz)carrots
100 g (3.5 oz) fresh spinach
4 Tablespoons olive oil
300 g (10 oz) rizini (pasta that looks like rice)
200 g (7 oz) Pecorino Sardo, hard and aged 
150 ml (2/3 cup) whipping cream
salt and white pepper to taste

1 Tablespoon butter


Preheat oven to 160C/320F. Butter a ceramic medium size baking dish. 

Using a mandolin slicer and/or a big knife, slice carrots and parsnips, thin and short (to match rizini). In a large saucepan, heat 3 Tablespoon olive oil, add prepared vegetables. Add salt. Saute for 5-6 minutes on medium/high.

In a separate skillet with a Tablespoon of olive oil, saute spinach for 4 minutes on medium/high. Add salt. 

Grate Pecorino. Melt it on top of hot water, mixing it and adding whipping cream. Season it with salt and white pepper if necessary. 

In a medium pot of salted boiling water, cook rizini for 1-2 minutes less that specified on a package. Drain it. Don't let it cool too much before using.

Put cooked pasta in the pasta pot, add vegetables, pour in the sauce. Mix it all up and transfer it to the prepared baking dish. Dot it with butter.

Place it in a hot oven for 15 minutes, just for the tastes to blend together. Stuff baked rizini in muffin molds. Put a mold on a plate upside down, wait for a minute and remove the mold. Touch of olive oil and it's yours!

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