Tag: Fresh pasta

Kale Stem Pesto

Kale Stem Pesto // Serious Crust by Annie FasslerKale Stem Pesto // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

I often find myself frustrated with how much stuff I put in my compost. I guess I should stop right there and say, at least I have a compost, right? The beautiful city of Portland has roadside pickup every week, making it so wonderfully easy to make more environmentally conscious choices. There aren’t a lot of cities that do that. Anyway, I know I could save some bones and carrot tops and onion tops and parsley stems for stock… But I just don’t do it. I mean, I do sometimes… But not as often as I should. And there’s one thing lately that I have always felt guilty after putting it in the compost: kale stems. Jonah and I eat a fair amount of kale – usually sautéed with butter and garlic or something like that, sometimes in a salad. But I always am frustrated at the toughness of the stems, and wish I could do more with them.

After a little research and looking around, I mostly found that people who do use their kale stems either sauté them with their kale, simply adding the stems first so they cook for longer, or put them in smoothies. I wasn’t really into either of these options, so I made myself a third one. With the all-in pesto in mind, and a container of pine nuts whining from my pantry, I got to work making some kale stem pesto. I wasn’t planning on sharing this pesto here, since the recipe is really improvised, but I got so many comments and questions about what it was when I posted pictures on my Instagram and Facebook, that I thought, why not? This pesto is certainly a product of whatever you’ve got around, which is generally my theory about pesto. Herbs are good, parmesan is good, and other than that, you can kind of go crazy. Nearly any kind of nut will work, any greens, and you can really play until you find some flavors that you like. I didn’t do any measuring here – mostly just throwing in handfuls of this or that – but below is an approximation of what I used.

The beautiful thing about pesto is that it can be a complete reflection of your kitchen: if you just went to the market and have some radish greens, use them. If you don’t have any pine nuts but plenty of pistachios or walnuts, use them. If it’s raining and you want something heartier, add more cheese.

We tossed our kale stem pesto with fresh spaghetti (you can find a recipe here) and topped it with sliced grape tomatoes, which added a really nice juicy brightness. I also like to make a thick piece of toast and slather it with fresh pesto.

Kale Stem Pesto


1 bunch of kale stems, plus probably the equivalent of 1 leaf of kale
1 cup spinach
1/4 cup parsley
~ 3/4 cup pine nuts
Parmesan cheese
Olive oil


Fill a small pot halfway with water, salt well, and bring to a boil. Roughly chop kale stems into about 1/2 – 1 inch pieces. Add to boiling water, and cook until stems are easily pierced with a knife. Drain and cool.

In the bowl of a food processor (or blender), combine kale stems, a few small chunks of parmesan, about half the pine nuts, 2 cloves of peeled garlic, and a few glugs of olive oil. Pulse to combine. Add spinach, some parsley, and a hefty sprinkling of salt. The key here is to taste and add. If you want a little more spice, add another clove or two of garlic. If you want it creamier, more nuts, and olive oil. If you want it greener, add more spinach and parsley, or some fresh basil or chard if you’ve got some around.

Lasagna, of the cheesiest variety

Lasagna // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Lasagna // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Lasagna // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Sometimes you need to make those meals that yield a million servings so you can eat it all week. The week before the CD release concert we had for Jonah’s new album was absolutely one of those weeks.

We had a few guests staying with us, band practice almost every night, and I had work on the nights I wasn’t rehearsing. It was a busy time, to say the least. So the night of our Kickstarter team meeting, to discuss merch and social media, etc. I made this lasagna, so that we could eat it throughout the week. It was high up on the list of best lasagna I’ve ever made. What made it so good? The homemade sauce, the homemade noodles, and some absurd amounts of cheese.

I’ll admit, however, that this uses a lot of dishes, and has a fair amount of ingredients. But when you’ve got some time and you’re making a meal that will carry you through the week, it’s worth it. I like to think of it as an entire week’s worth of mess (and cleanup).

Cheesy Meat Lasagna

Note: I used a 13×9 inch baking dish, and filled it right up to the brim. I put a baking sheet underneath it to catch any overflow (which was minimal), but still, if you’ve got a slightly bigger baking dish, it might be a good idea to use it.



3 eggs
2 cups flour

Meat Sauce

Olive oil
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
3/4 lb ground beef
3/4 lb ground italian sausage
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt, pepper, other Italian seasoning (parsley, basil, oregano, to your liking)
1 12 oz can tomato paste
1 28 oz can crushed (or diced) San Marzano tomatoes (yes, these are expensive, but I found it to be terribly worth it, and they weren’t THAT MUCH more than the other brands)

Ricotta Filling

3 cups ricotta
2 eggs
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

1 cup freshly grated parmesan
2-3 cups (preferably freshly) grated mozzarella



In the bowl of an electric mixer, or using a bowl and whisk, or a bowl and fork, mix up the eggs and flour into a dough. If it’s too wet, add more flour 1 tsp at a time. If it’s too dry, add water 1 tsp at a time. Dump the dough out onto floured surface, knead a few times, and wrap in plastic (or put in a bowl and cover with dishtowel) and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

Meat Sauce

In a large pot, heat 2 Tbl olive oil over medium heat, and add the onion and carrot. Cook until starting to soften. Add the garlic, beef, and Italian sausage, and cook until the meat has browned. Add 1 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp ground pepper, and whatever other spices you’d like (I did 1/2 tsp dried basil and 1/2 tsp dried parsley). Add the tomato paste and canned tomatoes to the pot (no need to drain them!) and stir to combine. Turn the heat to low and cover, letting it simmer for ~30 minutes.

Ricotta Filling

While your dough is resting and your sauce is simmering you can whip up the ricotta filling. In a bowl, combine the ricotta, eggs, pepper, and 1/2 cup of both the grated mozzarella and parmesan. Store in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble your lasagna.

Roll out your pasta into sheets for lasagna and set aside, covering so that the noodles don’t dry out. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and lightly coat your baking dish with oil. Spread ~1 cup sauce in the bottom of the dish. Here’s how you’re going to do this: noodles, ricotta, sauce, cheese. That’s your order. On top of the sauce in the bottom of the dish, arrange a layer of noodles; spread 1/3 of the ricotta mixture on top, then 1 cup sauce, and sprinkle with cheese (a mixture of the mozzarella and parmesan). Do that twice (now we’ve got sauce, noodles, ricotta, sauce, cheese, noodles, ricotta, sauce, cheese), and in the next layer, leave out the cheese (so just noodles, ricotta, sauce). Put another layer of noodles on top, spread the rest of the sauce on top, and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese. Phew! If you don’t feel like following my layering instructions, just do whatever you want. It’ll probably work, and you’ve probably eaten enough lasagna in your life to figure out how it works.

Bake the lasagna for 30-40 minutes, rotating it half way through, until the cheese on top is melted and turning golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool/set for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Friday Finds 7:26:13

Another whammy of a week. I’ll tell you more about it when the dust has settled. Who knows when that’ll be. All I know is, sometimes life gives you lemons, and you can’t even see that they’re lemons, you think they’re just these ugly sour things. And even though you know that you could potentially make lemonade out of them, you’re just not quite sure how to go about it, and what recipe to use, or if you should even use a recipe at all. Right now, I’m working on writing my own recipe, I guess. Here’s to hoping it’s delicious. Now, onto the Friday Finds.

1. Green Smoothies

Green Machine Smoothie from What's Gaby Cooking // Friday Finds on Serious Crust, by Annie Fassler
Green Machine Smoothie from What’s Gaby Cooking // Friday Finds

There’s a juice and smoothie cart in Portland called Sip, and it has this smoothie called Tropical Greens that I am so in love with. The thing about Sip is that because it’s all local seasonal organic etc. these smoothies don’t come cheap. So I need to start making my own. This one on What’s Gaby Cooking looks pretty similar to the one I’ve been buying on a regular basis for over a year now. Let’s see if it lives up to its inspiration…

2. Egg Yolk Ravioli

Egg Yolk Ravioli from Licking the Plate // Friday Finds on Serious Crust, by Annie Fassler
Egg Yolk Ravioli from Licking the Plate // Friday Finds

I mean, come on, does that not look like one of the most beautiful things you could eat? First, it’s fresh ravioli. Second, it has a runny egg yolk. Third, there is a MAGICAL RUNNY EGG YOLK INSIDE OF YOUR FRESH RAVIOLI. Find the recipe (and some beautiful photos) over here on Licking the Plate.

3. Avocado and Cajun Seasoning

Yum: avocado with cajun seasoning // Friday Finds on Serious Crust, by Annie Fassler
Yum: avocado with cajun seasoning // Friday Finds

My roommate Carmelle has turned me on to my new favorite snack: half an avocado, sliced, and sprinkled with some King Cajun Cream Seasoning. It’s filling, full of healthy fats, and tastes dang good.

4. Passionfruit Butter

Passion Butter from Cook Republic // Friday Finds on Serious Crust, by Annie Fassler
Passion Butter from Cook Republic // Friday Finds

If I knew where to find fresh passionfruit, I would immediately be so all over this recipe on Cook Republic (which, if you haven’t discovered yet, get your butt over there). I love citrus curd, and passionfruit is no exception. My sisters and I have always been big fans of the little wrinkly fruit. When my little sister and I spent a month in Vietnam one summer, our host mom found out that Molly really liked passionfruit, and so bought bags of it fresh from the market and would make us fresh squeezed passionfruit juice every morning. Nothing can really compare to that, but this curd looks almost as delicious.

5. Flavor Combination: Saffron and Raspberry

Saffron Raspberries from 101 Cookbooks // Friday Finds on Serious Crust, by Annie Fassler
Saffron Raspberries from 101 Cookbooks // Friday Finds

This recipe on 101 Cookbooks for Saffron Raspberries looks really interesting, and got me thinking about the flavor combination. It’s really intriguing to me, and I’m thinking it might make a good ice cream or something like that… Any ideas on how to combine the two? Savory? Sweet? In a pie? A sauce for chicken? I’d love to try a few possibilities!

Fresh Pasta with Pancetta, Leeks, & Breadcrumbs with Porcini Powder

Fresh Pasta with Breadcrumbs, Leeks, and Pancetta // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Fresh Pasta with Breadcrumbs, Leeks, and Pancetta // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Fresh Pasta with Breadcrumbs, Leeks, and Pancetta // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Fresh Pasta with Breadcrumbs, Leeks, and Pancetta // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Porcini powder. Porcini powder? Yes. From the farmers market. I was told it was wonderful, and was given a little bag as a gift. But what to do with the stuff, that’s the question. I’m not sure I made the right choice… This pasta dish had so much going on in it that the porcini flavor was hiding. It was hiding behind the sourdough breadcrumbs and butter it had been sprinkled into, and under the pancetta it had been tossed with, and between the fresh pasta noodles it had been swirled around with.

All that being said, this dish was dang good, if I do say so myself. There were a few elements, and it took a few pans to get it all prepped. So no, this is not one of those magical one pot meals. Certainly not.

My dear friend Elsa was staying with us, and my friend Dylan came over for dinner, as well as Elsa’s friend Sarah, so we had help in manning all the pans. Tamar Adler said in The Everlasting Meal that there is value in, when a guest asks “is there anything I can do to help?” being able to say, “yes.” I have found that to be very true.

Think of this recipe as a guideline. Or a lightly painted upon canvas. You can remove, add, flavor, sprinkle, drizzle anything you like. I must say, though, that I used a different pasta recipe this time, and I liked it much better than the one I had been using. There’s something to be said for trying something new.

Fresh Pasta with Pancetta, Leeks, & Breadcrumbs with Porcini Powder


Fresh Pasta

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 eggs


Olive oil
1 large or 2 small leek(s), sliced and rinsed
1 small white onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
Pancetta – the amount is up to you. I like the pancetta that is thin, almost like prosciutto, though that isn’t what we used here. I think if we’d used the thinner kind, it would’ve clung to the noodles better.
Fresh breadcrumbs
Porcini powder
Salt and pepper


Fresh Pasta

To make the pasta, pulse the flour alone in a food processor a few times. In a bowl, beat the eggs and then add them to flour, and process until the dough forms a ball. If your dough is dry and looks like little pea sized pieces of dough, you can add water 1/2 tsp at a time. If it sticks to the bowl of the processor, add flour 1 Tbl at a time. When the dough has formed a ball, turn it out onto a floured work surface and knead for 1-2 minutes. Wrap the dough in saran wrap and set it aside for up to 2 hours to relax (at least 15 minutes). Then roll out the pasta as you usually do and cut it as you normally would.


In a pan over medium (or medium low), cook your pancetta, then set aside on a plate with a paper towel on it. Once the pancetta is removed, you can use that same pan to sautée the leeks, onion, and garlic, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper. You may want to add a drizzle of olive oil to the pan to help keep things from sticking. But then again, maybe you won’t.

In another pan, melt some butter, then add the breadcrumbs and as much porcini powder as you feel like adding. Toast the breadcrumbs on low heat, stirring frequently to prevent burning.

As things are moving along, get out a big pot, fill it with water and a healthy serving of salt, and bring to a boil. Add the pasta (I like to cook fresh pasta in batches, as it makes it less likely to stick together). If you’re cooking fresh pasta, it really only needs to cook for a few minutes. I like to remove it when all the noodles are floating. Do you have a better method? I’d like to know it. If you’re cooking your pasta in batches, you can remove it with tongs into a colander to keep the water boiling on your stovetop.

Strain the pasta, put it in a bowl, and toss with all the various bits and pieces. Enjoy with a glass of buttery, nutty white wine and friends, around a table, on a sunny evening.