Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Spring Soiree with Buitoni

"It is only when you start to garden, that you realize something important happense every day. - Geoffrey B. Charlesworth.
`
I found this quote from My French Kitchen. It spoke to me. It's always fun to find a new blog that speaks to you!

As my yard turned pretty in pink and white, my thoughts turned to a spring soiree. As pretentious as that sounds!


Spring blooms are fleeting. All the more reason to savor. Do you notice that I always have an excuse to eat? "The tulips are up! Celebrate! Let's feast!"

And feast we did. The appetizers can be found here. And here. I had some carnivores and a vegetarian over. Having been inspired by Marie at Proud Italian Cook to make gremolata last week, I decided to do the gremolata again - but over grilled chicken. Not all guests loved fish. (Don't you love a challenge? A vegetarian, a non-fish eater, a diabetic and one allergic to goat cheese - which I served - hence the variety.)
`
If I was Laura Schenone, I would have made my ravioli. But my Easter attempts were less than stellar. So Buitoni made them for me. Buitoni's tortellini has long been a mainstay in my home. One of the first dishes my kids learned to make when they were in grade school was with tortellini. In the winter: Add Buitoni tortellini to a rich chicken broth. Swirl in some spinach and serve (with freshly grated Parmesan of course). In the summer, take out Mom's pesto. Bring to room temperature. Boil tortellini, top with pesto and serve.


As part of the Tastemaker Program at Foodbuzz, I was given a coupon to try Buitoni's Riserva's pastas - specifically Quattro Formaggi Agnolotti. Soft, billowy pockets stuffed with whipped ricotta, fontina, Parmesan, Grana Padano and a touch of roasted garlic of course. I had my vegetarian entre! I bought four of them (to serve 7).
`
I paired it with a young wine - a Veridicchio - crisp with an acid finish, it would offset the gentle, mellow flavors of the Agnolotti. And complement the pesto and vegetables I served it with. It also was a slightly tart accompaniment to the gremolata. Verdicchio is also highly affordable for a crowd. Most bottles run in the $10 dollar range.


For the red wine offering, I went with a Malbec. I have fallen in love with this mellow Argentinian red wine. Malbec is very smooth - almost buttery. Deep enough to pair with cheeses, pasta and chicken and the wine is fruity but dry as a young Bordeaux.
`
This recipe is an approximation from a class I took years ago. I play with the vegetables, sometimes add feta cheese, sometimes add shrimp and sometimes add sun-dried tomatoes. For the dinner, I stayed with the non-fussy pesto and just added string beans and carrots.


I par-boiled 2 cups of string beans (haricot verts would be grand here) and cooked 5 carrots (sliced into fat matchsticks) in 1/8 cup of olive oil for six minutes.


Large half moons of soft pasta stuffed with cloud-light cheeses. Who needs a sauce? I gently boiled the plump Agnolotti - you can see how they are generously stuffed. I do appreciate actually tasting the stuffing in stuffed pastas instead of guessing what the small blob is.

Tossed all with pesto. (I do the pesto to taste - start with about 4 cups of packed basil, add 1/4 - 1/2 cup of virgin olive oil - I like my pesto on the creamy side. Then add 1/4 cup (or more) freshly shredded Parmesan, 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or walnuts, and 2-5 cloves of garlic. Toss in blender and blend. In August, I make a ton of them - cover each small container with a thin layer of olive oil and freeze. When I need one, I pop it out of the freezer and onto my counter and let it come to room temperature. I never heat it. My mother freezes pesto in ice cube trays and pops it into red sauces all winter.
`
Many thanks to Foodbuzz and Buitoni for giving me a chance to sample their new luxurious pasta! It took center stage which is always a strong place to be!
The wines also paired well with the Gremolata. We talked of cabbages and kings and theatrical things. Revelations, job losses, plays, surgery, the past, the present and the future. That is what food does best. When you break bread together you share. As you pass the ending treats, you open. The night comes to a close but the windows stay open.

50 comments:

janet said...

The ravioli with veggies and pesto looks mouthwateringly good. I love the photo of the peony, mine just finished blooming.

5 Star Foodie said...

The agnolotti tossed with pesto sound awesome! Your tulips are so pretty!

Julie M. said...

That looks delicious! I've never had gremolata before. I think I'll be trying it soon, it looks delightful!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Don't you just love the beauty of spring and all those glorious flowers? Yours look so pretty and the food looks wonderful too, but it's that white on white plate that I'm really coveting.

Jen_from_NJ said...

Everything looks perfect - the flowers, the food, and the wine! You did a great job on the menu. I am sure that everyone was pleased.

Shree said...

everything looks so lovely :) Love pesto ravioli

Cinnamon-Girl said...

I love how you prepared the ravioli Claudia! Wonderful flavors. And your chicken with the gremolata looks totally delicious - bright and fresh.

pegasuslegend said...

Buon appetite! wow those ravioli are just waiting for me to eat them for sure looks fantastic and the setting the wine tulips bellissimo!!!!

Kim said...

What a feast! Plus, you did it all with special diets to consider. Bravo, Claudia! Great job pairing up the wine and the food:) I would be happy to have a place at your table anyday.

Jeannie said...

Beautiful! From start to end:)

Juliana said...

Claudia...the pictures of the flowers are beautiful...and the pasta looks delicious :-)

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

What a wonderful Italian, feast Claudia! A little of this and a little of that, a few good pasta dishes, some crunchy bread and a few bottle of wine...this reminded me of an al fresco dinner with my in-laws under their bacyard grape vine on a hot Brooklyn summer day. All that was missing was their amazing home made sopressatta (sausage) ..sigh!

tasteofbeirut said...

Beautiful flowers and coupled with the pasta, sounds wonderful that evening at home!

Fresh Local and Best said...

Your flowers are so beautiful! If there is anything that makes me both happy and sad at the same time, it's seeing beautiful pictures plants blossoming in someone else's yard. One of these days, I'll return to working with the earth, I loved it so much!

Aren't Argentinian malbecs wonderful?! It's one of my favorite varietals from one of my favorite regions.

theUngourmet said...

This does look like some beautiful ravioli and I love what you've done with it. Yum! The wines look terrific as well. :)

Mister Meatball said...

What time do we all eat?

No, really, what time?

How come everybody thinks I'm kidding?

Choices said...

As always your foods and recipes look so yummy! Makes me hungry!
Thanks for sharing!

3 hungry tummies said...

That is quite a spread you have there. :)
The flowers are very beautiful.My spring bulbs just coming up so I am looking forward to that :)

Claudia said...

Mister Meatball - we can eat anytime - except (always an except) it seems to have been eaten!
Thanks all for kind remarks.

girlichef said...

What a delicious spread! I'm gonna have to try pesto w/ ravioli...that's a combo I've never done (for what reason?? huh.)...it all looks delicious. =)

Emily said...

Gorgeous pictures of your flowers!

Wanda said...

I love your excuses for eating, Claudia. I must try Buitoni's Quattro Formaggi Agnolotti, the way you prepared it looks delicious.
I just discovered your other recipe blog...will follow it too!
♥...Wanda

Bridgett said...

There is always an excuse to have a feast! Your pesto looks incredible.

Foodessa said...

We have the same name...we love Italian food...how could I not follow you from another blog.
I love how you prepare your food.
I'm so glad to have discoverd your wonderful place. The flowers don't hurt the eyes either ;o)
Flavourful wishes, Claudia

sweetlife said...

great post, love the chicken with gremolata..looks amazing

sweetlife

Gera @ SweetsFoodsBlog said...

Agnolotti with pesto wow this is gorgeous! Lovely your flower photos :)

Have a great week,

Gera

Nancy said...

Such a lovely dinner party -- your guests are very lucky to have such a wonderful and creative hostess! The agnolotti sound delicious, love the addition of pesto and veggies.

My Carolina Kitchen said...

Claudia, I stopped for quite a while and admired the beautiful flowers before scrolling down to the feast. My favorite would have been fish, but I wouldn't have been able to resist a taste of ravioli too.

It's amazing what a variety of different eating preferences and problems you find in people today. Years ago if you were a guest in someone's home and didn't like something on your plate or it wasn't on your diet, you simply ate around it. Where oh where are those people who will eat anything?
Sam

denise @ quickies on the dinner table said...

What gorgeous blooms! I love the big blowsy bloom (peonie?)

I would have happily scarfed down everything on your table - but I would not have shared the agnolotti. I really love the dish you served it in too!

Barbara GF said...

"It is only when you start to garden, that you realize something important happens every day. - Geoffrey B. Charlesworth.

I love that quote, Claudia! That really is so true.
And your feast! May I pull up a chair and join you at the table?

Angie's Recipes said...

I wish I knew a wee bit of gardening....the pasta looks great with pesto!

Drick said...

nice way to serve the pasta and I agree, who needs a creamy sauce

Mary said...

What a lovely post. I loved the posies and the post. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

Monet said...

The flowers made me remember why I love Spring, and the food made me hungry for Italian! Yum!

eleni said...

Many inviting foods here... well done!!

Velva said...

Awesome! I love enjoying a feast with friends and family. I would have easily pulled up a chair and joined you.

fromBAtoParis said...

Long live the Malbec !!! (Argentinian speaking!), which together with your glorious food..."bocato di Cardinale"
Un beso,
Cristina

Katherine Aucoin said...

Gorgeous flowers and a wonderful meal!

biz319 said...

I just started using gremalatas as a topper for soups and wow, what a great way to spike up a dish!

Everything looks beautiful!!

Rosabela said...

What pretty flowers are blooming in your garden ... and the pasta dish looks soooo yummy!

I also use only Buitano pasta. As for filled pastas, I mostly buy them and make them when I have time. They are a bit time consuming to make but are definitely worth the effort!

My Little Space said...

How nice that you actually found something wonderful to bring home with you during the trip. I'm sure you enjoyed every moment of it too. What a fabulous spring time celebration...hmm..mmm... just look at those food! Yummm..... Hope you're having a fabulous day!
Blessings, Kristy

Anncoo said...

I enjoy gardening and your flowers are so pretty to look at. Your food looks so tempting too!

Nadji said...

Un vrai festin. Quel menu.
See soon.

OysterCulture said...

My goodness what a visual treat and your recipe sounds just divine. Of course you said pesto so how could it not be.

Sook said...

Those ravioli looks so tempting! Yummy sauce, too!

Alessandra said...

It seems like a fun event!

Thank you for sharing.

Alessandra

Sophie said...

Dear Claudia!!

You allready commented it on my zucchini post, twice today!! I am feeling lucky!

All of this tasty food looks fab & so full of flavour!!

joe@italyville said...

can't wait for everything else in the garden to start growing.... I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.

www.kevinandamanda.com said...

Yum! That looks delicious! :) Thanks for the pesto information- I have 4 basil plants this year.. I should have plenty by the end of summer!! :)

Gera @ Sweets Foods Blog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.