Saturday, April 23

Layered Pasta Ricotta Pie - Solar Baked

Happy Easter, Everyone! Here's a great take-along dish for parties and get-togethers that will serve 8-12 people, depending on who's doing the cutting! If you plan on making your own pasta sauce, make it the day before to let the ingredients 'marry' and it will cool down enough to make folding in the egg whites less harrowing. If it's too hot, the whites could disappear and we don't want that to happen. It really is a beautiful dish for presentation and the trio of tastes make it sparkle. What you don't eat, refrigerates well, and makes a great lunch.

I had some nice onions, greens, and herbs to choose fresh from the garden and that makes everything taste so good. Sweet basil, German thyme, lemon thyme, rosemary, parsley, and oregano, ready for chopping.

Pasta Layer:  1/4 lb vermicelli, cooked and drained
1/3 cup onion finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbs olive or vegetable oil
1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese grated
1/2 cup Romano cheese, grated
1 large egg
In large skillet, cook onion and garlic in oil until tender; remove from heat. Add cooked vermicelli, 1/2 Romano cheese and 1 egg; mix well.  Press into well-greased pan.  A springform pan is perfect; but, if you don't have one, just line your pan with tinfoil, like this, and spray it well with cooking oil and it will be fine.

Then, press the pasta layer firmly against the bottom.

Cheese and Greens Layer:   15 oz ricotta cheese
2 large egg yolks (use whites in sauce layer)
5 ounces lettuce, cooked & chopped
5 ounces broccoli, young leaves, cooked & chopped
1/2 tsp salt
In medium bowl, combine 2 egg yolks, ricotta, spinach, salt and remaining 1/2 Romano cheese. Spread over pasta layer. Didn't take a picture, but you know what to do.

Preheat solar oven to 225°F   If you use a canned tomato sauce, the rest is easy to do. Just whip up the egg whites and fold them into the sauce before spreading over the top of the cheese layer. If you're going to use homemade sauce, just a reminder to make sure it's down to room temperature, at least, before gently folding in the egg whites. Then spread this over the cheese layer.

Top Tomato Sauce Layer:  26 ounces jar of pasta sauce (olive and mushroom) combination
(Homemade sauce recipe*, below)
2 egg whites, beaten stiff but not dry
In small mixer bowl, beat 2 egg whites until stiff but not dry; fold into 1-1/2 cups cooled pasta sauce. Spread over spinach mixture.  Bake in solar oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until set; let stand 10 minutes.

Remove from dish by gently pulling up on four corners of foil liner and sliding onto a plate. (If you're using a springform pan, problem solved!)

Heat remaining pasta sauce; serve with pie. Garnish. Refrigerate leftovers.
or cooled Homemade Pasta Sauce:  1-1/2 pound tomatoes peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 cup mushrooms coarsely chopped
1/4 cup Calamata olives, sliced
1 medium onion chopped
2 cloves garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 Tbsp tomato paste (or 2 Tbsps tomato powder + 2 tsps water)
1 Tbsp parsley chopped
2 tsps oregano leaves, chopped
2 tsps marjoram leaves, chopped
1 tsp thyme leaves, chopped
1 Tbsps olive oil or vegetable oil
1/2 cup red wine
1 Tbsp butter or margarine
salt and pepper to taste.
This is a light, airy, pasta dish that could handle some nice garlic bread and cheese chunks on the side. Isn't it pretty?!


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