Happy New Year everybody! By now everyone should have returned to their "normal lives" and most of us are probably looking over our new year's resolutions lists assessing how we might tackle our goals for the year. I don't know about you, but losing weight and leading a healthier lifestyle is at the top of MY list (for the past few years...). When I say "leading a healthier lifestyle" I don't mean eating nothing but salads with fat free dressing. No thank you. I mean cooking as many meals as possible at home using good, natural ingredients and making sure every meal has some sort of fruit or vegetable included in it.
SO... To kick off the new year, me and my Virtual Potluck buddies have been given the opportunity to work with California Olive Ranch and Bob's Red Mill Natural Foods to bring you some delicious and healthy recipes using products from both companies! This means you'll get 12 new, original recipes from each of the Virtual Potluckers a week for four weeks. Hopefully these recipes will give you some ideas on how you can use these great products to prepare amazing dishes for you and your family, too. I can tell you that my recipes will always use good, whole, REAL ingredients and will be fun to make.
Healthy doesn't always have to mean boring and tasteless. No, my recipes will not be 200 calories or less... if that's what you're looking for, then you're reading the wrong blog. Plus, you're also probably focusing only on losing weight and not very much on eating healthy. To truly have a healthy diet, you want to make sure that you cook with good, whole, natural ingredients that are good for you to begin with and then practice a little thing called portion control. That way you're satisfied because you ate something that actually had some taste, but you also get to lose weight gradually... which is really the only way you'll have a prayer of keeping it off anyway.
So there's also another very cool aspect to this project. Each week, you will have a chance to win the flour/grain and olive oil combination used in that week's recipe! That means a full sized bottle of spectacular olive oil and a full sized bag of flour or grains. These are great products that I know you'll love and how cool is it to get them sent right to your house for free?
Find out what products I used this week and how you can win them after the jump!
This week's theme was Appetizers - Just The Beginning...
The products I used for my appetizer were the Bob's Red Mill Organic Hard White Whole Wheat Flour and the California Olive Ranch Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The first thing that popped into my head when I saw the flour was pasta. Then I realized this was supposed to be an appetizer, so I immediately thought, "Fried Ravioli!" Now, I know what you're thinking... "Fried food isn't healthy!" Well, I disagree. I mean yeah, if you roll through the Long John Silver's drive through and order a box of brown fried crap without a vegetable in sight and wash it down with a sugary Coke, then yeah, fried food is pretty bad for you and it's not gonna do you any favors. But what I did is an example of the philosophy I'm trying to get across to you when thinking about healthy eating.
Yes, I fried the ravioli, but I made them with good ingredients, whole wheat flour, and I served them with a simple arugula salad dressed with a delicious mustard vinaigrette using the extra virgin olive oil. This is an example of striking a balance with your meals and making sure that you always include vegetables. And even though this was an appetizer recipe, Mark and I ended up making it our dinner by eating a bigger portion of the salad and having about 6 fried ravioli. The ravioli were crispy with a warm delicious center filled with prime rib (leftover from a prior dinner), shrimp, arugula, and parmesan cheese. We dipped them in a delicious horseradish dipping sauce, which gave them a tangy zip. I admit, they took some time to make since I made the pasta dough from scratch, but if you have a Sunday that you'd like to spend in the kitchen having some fun, this was a fun recipe to make.
Follow Bob's Red Mill on Twitter Follow California Olive Ranch on Twitter Follow Virtual Potluck on Twitter Tweet about the contest: “I just entered to win @Bobs_Red_Mill & @CA_EVOO products from @TaratheFoodie & #virtualpotluck. Enter here: http://bit.ly/wXYeGm“ Comment again, letting me know you've done so, by providing the link to your tweet. More Blogs, More Ways to Win: Get additional entries in each week's giveaways by visiting our host blog for this event, Groovy Foody , and finding other participating VP bloggers sites to comment on. You have 48 chances to win great products!
California Olive Ranch would also like to offer FOODIE readers a 10% discount by entering coupon code ‘BLOGFRIENDS’ upon checkout at their online store.
This contest is closed...
CONGRATULATIONS TO CAT (@picatasi on Twitter)! Let me know what you make with your whole wheat flour and olive oil!
So here's how I made the fried ravioli...
Heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the shrimp seasoned with salt and pepper. Saute for just a few minutes until the shrimp are pink and firm.
Next, add the leftover prime rib to the pan. Remove the shrimp from the pan and chop up into bite size pieces. Return them to the pan with the prime rib and stir.
Next, add the chicken stock to the pan to deglaze. Stir with a wooden spoon, scraping all the brown bits up from the pan. Then add the arugula to the pan and stir until it wilts.
Add the entire mixture to a food processor along with the Parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.
Turn on the food processor and let it go until the mixture is a paste. This is your filling.
To make the dough, make a well with the flour and crack the eggs right into that well, along with the extra egg yolk, a few cranks of fresh ground sea salt, and water. Using a fork, scramble up the eggs, then start incorporating the flour into the egg yolk mixture until all the flour has been stirred in. Start using your hands when it gets too hard to stir. Warning: this is not as easy as Anne Burrell makes it look kids.... my eggs may or may not have slid all over the pasta board and only my quick reflexes and shear determination saved my kitchen floor from being egged. You could also do this in a bowl if you don't feel like proving anything when you go to make these. ;-)
Once you've combined the flour and eggs into dough, start kneading your ass off. Using the heal of your hand, press down and forward, then fold over more of the the dough and repeat... like a billion times. Ok, maybe not that many times, but enough times until the dough starts to feel a bit soft. Since this is whole wheat flour, it won't feel very soft, but you'll know when the dough starts feeling plyable. It'll take about 10 minutes of kneading. This will be your upper arm workout for the day - trust me.
Wrap the dough up in plastic wrap and let it rest on the board.
Heat up your deep fryer and get your filling into a bowl and set it next to your ravioli making station. You'll also want a fork, a biscuit cutter, and a small bowl of water.
Once the dough has rested for about a half hour, cut it in half, roll it out with a rolling pin, then run it through your pasta machine to make thin sheets of pasta.
Next, cut out circles from the dough using your biscuit cutter. Put a teaspoon of filling in the center of a dough circle, then moisten the outside ring of the dough circle with your finger dipped into the water bowl. Top it with another dough circle and press down all around to fuse the two dough circles together. Then use your fork to cinch the edges shut.
Your ravioli will end up looking like this:
Dip each ravioli in the scrambled egg/water mixture, then cover them in the panko bread crumbs mixed with oregano, thyme, and sea salt. Bread all of the ravioli this way.
Then, simply deep fry your breaded ravioli in about 350 degree canola oil until golden brown. Keep an eye on the ravioli as this will only take about a minute and you'll need to flip them halfway through so they brown on each side.
In the recipe below you'll see the recipes for the horseradish dipping sauce that I served these with. Also, there's a recipe for a quick mustard vinaigrette that you can toss with some extra arugula and serve that on the platter with your fried ravioli. It makes for a delicious appetizer and the vinaigrette really highlights the delicious flavor of the California Olive Ranch olive oil.
This is a time consuming recipe, but if you love to cook and you want to do something different, give it a shot. It's also a great way to turn leftovers into something totally different.
Stay tuned... next up, a healthy side dish!