Tre Stelle Cheese and Chili

Tre Stelle Cheese containers and ChilliIt’s still winter, which means we want easy, fast, comforting meals. The kind of meals that make us feel cozy. Meals that taste even better the next day, so we don’t have to cook twice, and are great for a crowd. We often travel in packs in the winter, moving from skating rink, to hockey arena, to tobogganing hill.  And then we want to reward ourselves for braving the cold, with hot food.  So to this I say, chili!  Even if it weren’t winter, but say, just a super chilly day, chili is still the answer!

Chili is one of those meals that inspires individuality and personality.  It can be as simple or as complex as we want.  After developing the basic skills to bring various veggies, legumes, spices and perhaps meat together confidently, we aren’t worried about the numbers: how many carrots, how much garlic, how much meat, etc.  We get a ‘feel’ for what we want the finished chili to taste like.  Perhaps our heritage will influence our choice of ingredients.  So we forgo everything that we’ve been told and put our own spin on it.  So truly, a simple pot of chili becomes a delicious expression of our skills, our heritage, and our creativity.

Tre Stelle Cheese and Chilli

I’m putting my own spin on a standard chili recipe that will feed eight. With a few changes, we can make an Italian, Spanish, or even Moroccan inspired chili.  I’m heading to Spain with the recipe below.  I really wanted to develop a recipe that allows for vegetarian options. While I use a fresh sausage for the protein, you can totally omit and just increase the beans and veggies for a vegetarian option.

And even better, while the chili is bubbling away, we get to think about the toppings. There are the obvious ones: chopped avocado, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, but how about shaking it up with something new?  I’m thinking of Tre Stelle® Ricotta blended with Italian herbs and roasted red peppers, spread on ciabatta and grilled for an Italian crostini topped chili.  Or perhaps crumbling Tre Stelle® Feta and tossing it with ground almonds, pistachios, fresh mint leaves and spices for a Moroccan twist.  For my Spanish inspired chili, take Tre Stelle® Bocconcini balls, wrap them with serano ham and olives for a delicious tapas version!

If you’re feeling especially ambitious, prepare all three of these fantastic toppings and lay out a chili bar for your guests to crown their chili bowls.

All of these toppings will work with any version of chili you choose to create. Enjoy!

Love Jen.

 

Tre Stelle Cheese and Chilli

Spanish Chili with Three Tre Stelle Toppings

Ingredients:

Spanish Chili

3 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, diced

5 cloves of garlic, minced

4 fresh chorizo sausages, from the butcher, casings removed

1 tbsp chilli powder

1 tbsp dried rosemary

2 tsp dried thyme

2 tsp espelette pepper

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp sweet paprika

2 large carrots, cut into 1/2 inch quarters

2 large sweet red pepper, seeded and diced into 1/2 pieces

2 large celery sticks, sliced into 1/2 pieces

2 28 oz (796 ml) cans of diced or crushed tomatoes

1 14-19 oz (400-540 ml) white beans or romano, drained and rinsed

2 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/2 inch slices

fresh parsley to garnish

Tre Stelle Ricotta Italian topping

Italian Ricotta Ciabatta Crostini

8 slices of ciabatta loaf

2 tbsp olive oil

3/4 cup Tre Stelle Smooth Ricotta Cheese

3 tbsp chopped roasted red pepper

2 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped

2 tbsp fresh basil leaves, chopped

olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Tre Stelle Bocconcini Spanish Tapas topping

Spanish Bocconcini Ball topping

16 Tre Stelle Bocconcini balls, drained well

8-16 slices of Serrano Ham, (if large, can slice 8 slices in half lengthwise)

16 Spanish style or Greek pitted olives

Espellete pepper

kosher salt and cracked pepper

olive oil for drizzling

16 cocktail skewers

Tre Stelle Feta Moroccan topping

Moroccan Feta Crumble topping

1/4 cup pistachios

1/4 cup almonds

3/4 cup Tre Stelle Feta cheese

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

1/4- 1/2 tsp harissa powder

kosher salt and cracked pepper

 

Directions:

Chili
Sauté the onions and garlic in a large dutch oven or pot over medium heat, until just turning translucent, about 3 minutes.

Remove the meat from the sausage casings and add to the pot. Raise the heat to medium high. Using a cooking spoon, break up the meat until small and crumbly, no longer pink but rather turning crispy, about 7-8 minutes.

Add the spices and stir to coat well.

Add the carrots, peppers and celery, and cook till just starting to soften, about 5-7 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and all juice and bring to a low boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover slightly with the lid.  Let it simmer for about 30 minutes, till veggies are almost tender.

Add the can of beans.  Continue to simmer another 10 minutes.

Add the zucchini pieces and simmer another 5-10 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper, and re-season with any of the spices or herbs you’d like to taste more of!

Garnish with the fresh parsley.

Serve with a medley of toppings, including one of the toppings I’ve created below

 

Italian Ricotta Ciabatta Crostini topping

Preheat the oven to 375F, set rack in the middle.

Lay out the ciabatta slices on a baking sheet and lightly brush with olive oil

Toast in the oven, till golden brown.

Combine the rest of the ingredients together and spread evenly on each slice of bread.

Return to the oven and set it to broil.  Broil for about 5 minutes, till spread is warmed through.

Drizzle with a touch more olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

 

Moroccan Feta Crumble topping

Spread the pistachios and almonds in a cast iron skillet or other sturdy skillet.  Toast over medium heat till just warming and turning golden.  Watch them, they shouldn’t take too long.  Allow to cool and then chop.  Aim for a smaller size rather than too rough.

Crumble the Feta cheese into a medium sized bowl.  Make sure the crumble is is pretty uniform in size.

Add the chopped nuts, as well as the mint.  Stir to combine well.

Season with harissa and salt and pepper to taste.

 

Spanish Tapas Bocconcini ball topping

Take one slice of Serrano Ham (it should be around 5 inches long and 1inch wide) and guide one end onto a cocktail skewer.

Add one bocconcini ball.

Wrap the ham around the ball and skewer it again, to capture the cheese inside the ham.

Add an olive onto the skewer.  Wrap the ham around the olive, thus trapping it on the skewer as well.

Repeat with the remaining 15 skewers.

Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with peppers and salt as desired

 

Spinach ravioli with Ricotta filling

spinach ravioli with ricotta 4March 20th is National Ravioli Day! A perfect opportunity to include the kids in the preparation of a beloved Italian classic – after all, food has a way of bringing family together.

Cooking with your kids is a great way to springboard them into a life full of appreciation for food and food culture, let alone an understanding of healthy eating habits. Including them in the process gives them a foundation to learn that the kitchen is a blank canvas. Cooking is a creative outlet that provides sustenance and nutrition.

With our busy schedules, it’s not always easy to catch up at the end of the day.  Spending time in the kitchen preparing food and eating together helps keep families connected and around the table after a busy day.  Assigning tasks such as setting the table or prepping items to other family members will help set the stage for a successful meal.

There’s no shortage of “kid friendly” recipes out there. Sure, the kitchen might get a little messy, but this is a great opportunity to educate the little ones on the importance of cleanliness when handling food. As my great aunt used to say “if there’s time to lean, there’s time to clean”.

Having been born and raised in Italy, I was introduced to pasta fresca (fresh pasta) at a young age by my grandmother. I can still hear her voice as she walked me through her recipe step by step. Of course, this memory is drenched in nostalgia, but it serves as proof that inviting your children to take part in food preparation will nurture a positive perception of cooking. Some might say the proof is in the pudding. In my case the proof was in the pasta. To this day, when I visit my home in Italy, I stand side by side with my mother, making fresh ravioli and tagliatelle, as we share stories of the past, present and future.

The recipe I am sharing with you is Spinach Ravioli filled with Tre Stelle® Ricotta. In traditional ravioli, spinach is often mixed in with Ricotta before being added as the filling. This time I’ve worked the spinach into the pasta resulting in a colorful spin that is sure to generate interest in the young minds of your sous chefs. Did I mention this is a great way to hide extra veggies in your kids meals?

Let them crack an egg or two, under supervision of course, and ask them to get their hands messy by mixing the ingredients. Once the pasta has been rolled out, offer them a strip to make their own Ravioli. Their imagination will be ignited and their pride will be front and center as they sit across from you at the table, enjoying the fruits, or raviolis, of their labour.

Sharing your love of cooking is extremely rewarding, especially when you’re inspiring the next generation.

spinach ravioli with ricotta 3

Ingredients for 4 p.

Pasta:

1 cup of boiled and well-drained spinach (60 gr. approximately)

3 eggs

50 gr. of durum wheat semolina for dusting

250 gr. of all-purpose flour

1 tbsp. of olive oil

Salt

 

Filling:

1 tub Tre Stelle® Ricotta

Salt, pepper and nutmeg

Tomato sauce for plating.

 

For the filling:

Strain the Ricotta using a strainer then place the Ricotta in a bowl with a pinch of salt, pepper and nutmeg. Mix and let sit.

For the dough:

Mix flour, semolina, spinach and olive in a bowl, add salt and mix.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, knead a few minutes, roll it into a ball and let rest for 30 minutes at room temperature, covered with a kitchen towel.

Cut the dough in 3-4 parts, cover the pieces you are not using to prevent them from drying out.

Dust the counter and dough with a little flour, then press the dough into a rectangle and roll it through a pasta machine, 2 or 3 times, at widest setting.

Pull and stretch the sheet of dough with the palm of your hand as it emerges from the rollers. Reduce the setting and crank the dough through again, 2 or 3 times.

Continue tightening until the machine is at the second narrowest setting (long thin sheets are the goal here). Avoid too much flour on the dough sheets.

Using a glass or a cutter, made discs of dough (about 8 cm wide).

Place a teaspoon of Ricotta filling on each disc and fold the edge, wrapping the filling.

Press your fingers along the edge, eliminating any air pockets.

Using a pasta cutter to add some flare to each ravioli.

Cook the ravioli for 2-3 minutes in a large pot of salted boiling water with a few drops of oil.

Drain gently with a slotted spoon, plate the ravioli with tomato sauce, drizzle with olive oil and serve.