Fancy Dinner Part 2 – Stuffed Paccheri

stuffed paccheriSome time ago I made a recipe featured in the August 2010 issue of La Cucina Italiana Magazine, for stuffed paccheri. At this point, I can barely remember the occasion, how involved the recipe was, or what I originally intended to write about it. It was so involved, that I decided to split the recipe into two posts. “How clever,” I thought. This will give me more to right about and will make the recipe seem slightly less involved. To be fair, this is a two part recipe and I made the components over several days.

fresh tomato sauceLike a good blogger, I posted the first part not long after consumption, when the flavors were still fresh on my mind and the memory still lingered on my taste buds. Unlike a good blogger, I failed to post the second part.

I doubt anyone has been waiting with baited breathe for the other half of this recipe, with their tomato sauce turning sour on the counter. This did, however, teach me several blogging and cooking lessons, which I thought I’d enumerate here for anyone still reading:

  1. When you have something you want to write about, don’t put it off for so long that you forget what you wanted to say.
  2. Failing to post or not to post on a specific subject, isn’t really a cause for emotional guilt or stress (unless you are a professional blogger, and then this would be paramount to not doing your job).
  3. Keep your notes organized so if you write a post or recipe on a small slip of paper you can find it many months later when you finally want to blog about it (obviously not what I did here).
  4. The beauty of a blog is that you can write (or not write) as you please.
  5. Cooking involved meals from published recipes is fun, teaches new techniques and introduces new flavors; don’t feel obligated to do this on a regular basis.
  6. Cooking without a recipe is also fun, yet can lead to mixed results on the plate.

And with these thoughts, I’ll leave you with the the remainder of the vegetarian adaptation for Stuffed Paccheri. I will try to remember the modifications that I made. I strongly remember this was a delicious holiday meal that I shared with some dear friends, I also recall that it was quite involved.

Stuffed Paccheri
Vegetarian adaptation from recipe in La Cucina Italiana Magazine

1/2 lb. bread, cut into thick slices
8 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1+ Tbs. marjoram
1 sprig fresh rosemary or good shake of dried rosemary
1 can canellini beans or other white beans, drained and rinsed
2 c. parsley, chopped
1 clove peeled garlic
pinch dried red pepper flakes
1/2 lb. arugula, chopped
30 paccheri (giant tubes of pasta). 24 needed, extra for good measure
1/2 c. basil leaves, sliced (about 8 leaves)
fresh tomato sauce (prepared in Part 1), at room temperature
Parmesan cheese for grating

1. Heat oven to 375 F, bring large pot of water to boil. Line baking sheet with foil or nonstick liner.
2. Trim crusts from bread and slice in 1/2 inch cubes.
cubed bread3. In large nonstick frying pan, heat 4 Tbs. oil over medium-high heat, until hot. As oil heats, add marjoram and rosemary.
4. Add breadcrumbs and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and discard fresh sprigs of herbs (if used). Set pan aside.
5. Spread bread out on baking sheet. Bake until golden, 8-10 minutes, turning if necessary to prevent bread from burning. Remove from oven and let cool. Keep oven on for later.
bread crumbs6. Coarsely chop breadcrumbs, either by hand, or in a food processor. Transfer to a large bowl.
7. Return to pan and heat 3 Tbsp. of oil over medium-high heat. Add parsley and garlic, cook for a few minutes.
8. Add arugula, pinch of salt, and pepper. Cook for less than a minute, stirring until arugula just begins to soften and cook down. Remove from heat. Add mixture to bowl with breadcrumbs and stir to combine everything.
9. Return pan to stove one last time. Add 2 Tbsp. olive oil and bring to medium-high heat. Add canellini beans to the pan, cooking for 1-2 minutes, just to heat the beans. Season with salt and pepper. Add to bowl with arugula and breadcrumbs.
10. Lightly oil baking sheet that you had used for the bread. Put down fresh foil, if need be.
11. Salt the pot of now-boiling water and lower to a simmer (apparently the paccheri can break if cooked over rolling boil). Add pasta and cook until just al dente (follow package instructions). Drain pasta and spread out onto baking sheet. Separate the tubes so they are not touching, or they will all stick together.
12. Use fingers, spoon, chopsticks, etc. to stuff the breadcrumb mixture into the tubes. Fill all of the unbroken tubes (about 24) and spread out on baking sheet.
preparing paccheri13. Grate fresh Parmesan cheese onto stuffed paccheris.
14. At this point, everything has probably gone cold. Pop paccheri in the oven for a few minutes to heat up and crisp the cheese topping and any protruding breadcrumb mixture.
15. To serve, spread tomato sauce onto plate. Put paccheri on top of sauce. Spoon/drizzle more sauce on top. Top with more cheese and fresh parsley, if you choose.

stuffed paccheriBon apetite!