Recently, I received a goodie basket from Marxfoods.com as an entrant in their Truffles, Pasta & More Recipe Challenge. Inside the box I found some schiaffoni pasta, some fennel pollen, some black truffle salt, and a packet of dried Porcini mushrooms. All I had to do was come up with an original recipe using the pasta and at least one of the other items.
Schiaffoni are tubular noodles, perfect for stuffing. The first thing I thought of was a hearty red meat sauce and cheese, but that seemed too predictable. Instead, I opted for combining the porcini mushrooms, spinach and carrots with ricotta, Romano and some other cheeses and topping it with a sauce flavored with the fennel pollen. That pollen is a wonder. Its aroma is reminiscent of anise, but its flavor is much more subtle. By putting cannellini beans in the sauce, the meal contains a complete protein and can stand alone without any meat.
4 Cheese Porcini Vegetable Stuffed Schiaffoni with Fennel Cannellini Bean Sauce
Author: Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker
- 16 ounce package Schiaffoni pasta
- for the stuffing:
- ¼ cup dried porcini mushrooms,cut into small pieces and rehydrated in 1 cup hot water (save the water for the sauce)
- ½ medium onion, diced fine
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup finely grated carrots
- ½ cup frozen chopped spinach, cooked and drained
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- dash nutmeg
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- 6 ounces marscapone (or cream cheese)
- ½ cup grated Romano cheese
- 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
- for the sauce:
- 4 Tbsp olive oil or butter
- ¼ cup flour
- reserved mushroom liquid
- ¼ cup white wine
- 1 cup chicken stock (to make this truly vegetarian, use vegetable broth or water)
- 2 tsp fennel pollen
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 15 ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- In a large skillet, saute the onions, garlic and mushrooms in olive oil.
- Combine the ricotta, marscapone, Romano and mozzarella in a food processor and blend until smooth.
- In a bowl, stir the spinach, carrots, mushrooms, onions, garlic, nutmeg and cheese mixture together until well blended.
- Meanwhile, boil the pasta for 10-12 minutes (note: the package said 16 minutes, but I wanted it to be slightly less than done so it would stand up to filling and baking later).
- When the pasta is al dente, drain and stand each upright in a greased casserole (9x13).
- Spoon filling into each noodle.
- (You may want to add a little bit extra liquid here if your noodles are really al dente)
- Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes at 350.
- To make the sauce, melt butter in the same skillet that you sauteed the vegetables.
- Scrape the cooked on bits of vegetables up into melted butter.
- Add the flour and stir until smooth.
- Add the mushroom liquid, white wine and chicken stock to the flour mixture, stirring all the while to prevent lumps.
- If the liquid seems too thin, add more thickener in the form of a flour/water slurry.
- Add the salt, pepper and fennel pollen and simmer 5 minutes to let the flavors blend.
- Add the beans and heat through.
- Serve the sauce over the schiaffoni.
I was a little afraid that the fennel taste in the sauce would overpower everything, but when combined with the pasta, it mellowed out to just a faint flavor. All of my kids gobbled theirs up and said it was marvelous. Although this is not a thirty minute meal, it well worth the effort.