Ricotta Pie & Walnut Lentil Loaf

Monday, March 29, 2010

Today was a rainy, boring day off from school. I decided to make the most of my time and do some baking/cooking. I had so much fun spending the day in the kitchen!

I started out by making a recipe from Chef Chad's recreational class that I helped out with on Saturday. It's his grandmother's recipe for ricotta pie. This sounded like a nice Italian Easter pie that my grandparents would love. My mom is bringing it over to their house tomorrow so they can have it for lunch or dinner this week. I make one exception for baking/cooking for family and friends.. I have to try it!! I will have to make them promise to save me a slice :)

I started out by making the crust, which is sweet and sturdy (kind of like a pate sucree, if I had to compare it to the doughs I've made in school).

-Place 2 cups of sugar, 4 egg yolks, and the zest of one lemon in a bowl of a kitchen aid mixer. Mix until well blended. Add 1 pound of butter gradually while the mixer is on. Slowly add in 4 cups of all-purpose flour. When the dough pulls together, pour out on a floured surface and mold into 2 disks. Wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

While that chilled, I made the filling:

-Melt about 3 T butter in a saute pan. Saute 1 large onion (chopped) until tender. Mix in 2 packages of thawed spinach (strained of excess liquid), salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste (I also added in some golden raisins). Saute for a minute and remove from heat.
-Combine 15 oz ricotta, 8 oz grated fresh mozzerella, and 1 cup grated parmesan. Mix in 3 large eggs and add in the spinach mixture.
-Cut one of the disks in half (reserve the other disk for another use--I froze it for a pie I'm making later on in the week). Roll out each portion to fit a 9-inch pie pan. Line the oiled pie pan with one piece of dough. Spoon in the cheese/spinach mixture. I used a fancy cutter to make strips for a lattice top out of the second piece of dough.
-Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 45 min- 1 hr.

Here is the pie before I baked it:
After it came out of the oven it looked like this:

It's a beautiful pie that I know my grandparents will love!

After this was done, I got started on dinner. I've been wanting to make this recipe for Walnut Lentil Loaf from my mom's Clean Food Cookbook. I've read articles in other blogs about this recipe and it sounds soo healthy. I was really curious about how all of these ingredients would pull together to make this vegetarian loaf. Here's the recipe that I followed almost exactly:

1 cup dried lentils (I used red lentils)
3 cups vegetable stock
1 thumb-size piece kombu (I've used this ingredient to make miso soup on Japanese soup day in school!)
3 T. ground golden flax seed
1/2 c. water
3 T. extra virgin olive oil (I used 2 T. coconut oil)
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 carrot, grated
1 stalk celery, minced
2 T. mirin
1 apple, peeled, grated with 1 T. lemon juice
1/4 c. raisins
3/4 c. toasted walnuts, chopped
1 tsp. dried thyme
6-7 dashes ume plum vinegar
fresh ground pepper
1 cup breadcrumbs (I used whole wheat panko)

1. Prepare lentils-- Rinse and place in a pot with stock and kombu. Bring to a boil and simmer until liquid is absorbed and lentils are tender. Remove from heat and discard kombu.
2. Prepare loaf-- In a small bowl combine flax seed and water. Reserve.
3. In a large skillet, saute onion, carrot, and celery in oil over medium heat. Add mirin and saute until the vegetables are soft. Add apple, raisins, and walnuts. Add the vinegar and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and fold in lentils, breadcrumbs, and soaked flax seed. Press mixture into a lightly oiled loaf pan.

For the glaze: (I heard the glaze was AWESOME so I made this recipe times 1.5..so glad I did!)
2 T. ketchup
1 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. maple syrup
1 T. apple butter (I used pumpkin butter)
1 T. arrowroot

1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and heat over medium heat while stirring constantly. cook until thick, about 2-3 minutes. Spread over the loaf (I saved some extra for dipping on the side). Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. Slice and serve!

Here's my loaf before I put it in the oven:

I made my favorite vegetable to have on the side : Kabocha Squash! It's not winter squash season anymore, but a specialty food store by my school (Garden of Eden) has great produce so I figured I'd give this squash a try.. It tasted really sweet and fresh! I also eat the skin because it has a ton of nutrients and crisps up really nicely in the oven:

I was glad I made this walnut lentil loaf ahead of time so that I could enjoy a glass of wine with my mom before dinner! Plus I had to celebrate some very exciting new I got today-- I will be interning with Good Housekeeping Magazine after my graduation in May! I am very excited to be given this opportunity!

Here was my plate with some of the lentil loaf and squash.

The loaf cut very nicely.. I was afraid it would be too mushy and wouldn't come out in nice slices, but it was perfect! I also loved the sweetness of the raisins and apples and the crunch from the walnuts. Not to mention, all of the nutrients in this meal! The glaze was so syrupy and sweet on top! I'm so glad I made extra!


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