Monday, July 4, 2011

We can carbonara just like Olive Garden!

Photo: Olive Garden

They've done it again! Olive Garden is teasing us with visions of puffy pillows of ravioli bathed in creamy parmesan sauce alongside crisp boneless chicken cutlets. "Carbonara Ravioli with Chicken" will be available for a limited time during these warm summer months. Or maybe not. If we can make our own....

So, what is carbonara? Typically, carbonara is a main dish made by tossing hot cooked pasta with beaten eggs, cream, and a bit of cheese. The heat of the pasta cooks the eggs and creates a silky sauce which is then fortified with the addition of crisp cooked bacon and additional cheese.

So, how can be translate that into a stuffed pasta?

Carb Diva's Carbonara Ravioli with Chicken
Filling:
4 slices bacon
2 tsp. olive oil
2 large shallots, minced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tsp. finely grated lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon (generous) ground black pepper

Prepare the filling:
  • Place bacon in cold skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon to a plate on which you have placed a double thickness of paper towels. When cool enough to handle, crumble the bacon and set aside.
  • Wipe the skillet clean. Add 2 tsp. of olive oil and minced shallots. Cook over medium heat until the shallots begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook 30 seconds more. Remove from heat and place shallots/garlic mixture in a small mixing bowl.
  • Into the same bowl add lemon peel, salt, pepper, and mascarpone cheese. Stir until well combined. Add the bacon and stir gently until bacon is evenly distributed. Cover and chill one hour.

Pasta:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 eggs
4 tablespoons water

Prepare the pasta:
  • Place 2 cups of all-purpose flour in the bowl of a food processor.
  • Add two whole eggs and pulse until mixture looks like coarse crumbs.
  • With processor running, slowly pour in 4 tablespoons of water.
  • Process until dough forms a ball.
  • Remove dough from food processor and let rest for about 10 minutes. Cut dough into two equal pieces. Roll out each piece by hand to a 9x24-inch rectangle, or use a pasta  machine to form your dough

    NOTE: If you do not want to make your own pasta, there is an alternative. Purchase one package of gyoza (dumpling) wrappers. Gyoza are similar to won tons, but a bit thicker and are usually sold in the same place where you obtain won tons--some stores have them in the produce section, or with tofu and natural foods. If all else fails, visit your local Asian market.


    Assemble the Ravioli:
    • Place your rolled pasta sheets onto a work surface. Cut each 9x24-inch sheet into 24 three-inch squares.
    • Using a pastry brush, lightly dampen the surface of 24 of the pasta squares with cold water.
    • Place 1 tablespoon of the filling into the center of the 24 dampened squares of pasta.
    • Place the remaining squares on top.
    • Press the edges with your fingers to seal, and then use a fork or ravioli cutter to decorate and more firmly seal the edge of your ravioli.


    Chicken:
    4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts - OR - 8 chicken tenders
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1/4 tsp. ground pepper
    1/2 cup all purpose flour
    1 cup panko bread crumbs
    1 whole egg, beaten

    Prepare the chicken:

    • Season the chicken breasts or tenders with salt and pepper.
    • Place the flour on a square of waxed paper.
    • Drop the chicken pieces on the flour and toss until all sides of the chicken pieces are coated with flour.
    • Place the panko bread crumbs in a shallow plate.
    • Place the beaten egg in a shallow plate.
    • Place the flour-coated pieces of chicken in the beaten egg and turn over to coat all sides.
    • Remove the egg-coated chicken pieces from the plate and place in the panko breadcrumbs. Toss to coat.
    • Heat a large skillet to medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil.
    • Place the panko-coated chicken pieces in the skillet and cook about 4 minutes per side, or until golden brown and cooked through (slash the thickest portion of chicken with a knife to look at the interior--there should be no pink if it is cooked through).

    Sauce:
    1 tablespoon butter
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1 tsp. grated lemon zest
    2 tsp. flour
    1 cup low-fat (2%) milk
    2 tablespoons low-fat cream cheese
    3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping


    Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook about one minute. Add the lemon zest and flour and cook, stirring constantly, about one minute. Gradually stir in the milk and whisk, stirring constantly, until thick and smooth. Remove from heat. Add the cream cheese and parmesan cheese; whisk until melted.




    Garnish:
    Chopped fresh tomatoes and fresh parsley.

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