Here are two excellent and economical dishes that are perfect to serve when friends or family are dropping by for dinner. Both are easy and can be prepared ahead of time, allowing you to spend time with your guests – the best part of sharing a meal!
The sauce for the rigatoni is built up from sautéed garlic and broccoli. Then some ricotta, gorgonzola and fresh tomatoes are added and combined with cooked rigatoni.
The whole mix goes into a baking dish…
…And comes out of the oven all golden and yummy! It’s perfect served with a green salad.
By the time we were done with it, there were only a few lonely tubes of pasta left!
Baked Rigatoni with Broccoli and Gorgonzola
Recipe Courtesy of Vegetarian Planet
- 8 ounces dried rigatoni
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 bunch broccoli, cut into florets (about 4 cups)
- 1 1/3 cups ricotta cheese, whole-milk or part-skim
- 3 ounces gorgonzola, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tomatoes — cut into 8 wedges each – I used about 4 mini roma tomatoes cut in half.
- 1 cup grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese
Bring a large pot of boiling salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and boil it, stirring occasionally, until it is just tender. Drain the pasta and rinse it well with cold water.
In a large skillet, combine the olive oil and garlic over low heat. Saute the garlic for 2 minutes or until the garlic releases its aroma (do not let it brown). Turn up the heat and add the broccoli and 1 cup water. Cook the broccoli, uncovered, for 3 minutes or until most of the water is evaporated.
Add the ricotta cheese and the gorgonzola. Stir the sauce until it is nearly smooth, and season it with salt and pepper.
In a bowl, combine the pasta, the cheese-broccoli sauce, the tomatoes, and 2/3 cup or the Parmesan or Asiago cheese. Add more salt and pepper to taste, if necessary. (At this point you can refrigerate the mixture for baking later.)
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Spoon the mixture into a casserole dish. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese over the casserole. Bake the casserole, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes (or a little longer if the mixture has been refrigerated).
This is an amazingly rich and intensely chocolaty pudding – if you have a chocoholic in your life, you should make this for them stat, they’ll be eternally grateful!
This pudding has three, yes three, types of chocolate in it – cocoa powder that is whisked into a milk/egg/sugar/corn starch mixture…
…And chopped unsweetened and bittersweet chocolate…
The pudding starts out looking like chocolate milk…
…But after five minutes of heat and constant whisking, ends up thick, rich and creamy…
The pudding then gets put in serving cups…
Covered with plastic wrap (to prevent the dreaded pudding skin from forming)…
…And chilled in the fridge for at least an hour and a half. I serve it with fresh whipped cream, never the stuff from the can. It’s heavenly!
Chocolate Blackout Pudding
Recipe courtesy of Vegetarian Planet
- 3 cups milk
- 4 tablespoons cornstarch (or 5 tablespoons arrowroot)
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons good quality cocoa
- 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, cut into small pieces
- 4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces, or 4 ounces chocolate chips
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon brandy or Grand Marnier (optional)
- Whipped cream
In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup of the milk with the cornstarch, and whisk well. Add the yolk, whole egg, sugar, and cocoa, and whisk well.
In a large, heavy saucepan (this is important because it can burn otherwise), heat the remaining 2 1/2 cups milk over medium-high heat until it begins to boil. Then pour about half of the milk into the cornstarch mixture, stirring all the time. Pour this mixture back into the saucepan. Place the pan over low heat, and whisk constantly for about 5 minutes, until the pudding thickens. The pudding should get very thick, like cold yogurt.
Remove the pan from the heat, and add the unsweetened and sweetened chocolate, the vanilla, and, if you’d like, the brandy or Grand Marnier. Stir until the chocolate is melted.
Ladle the pudding into mugs or cups, and chill it for at least 1 1/2 hours. Serve it cold, topped with whipped cream.
It was very nice to see Gist’s parents – we had a lovely dinner!