Pasta pies Essay

Pasta pies Whether served as a first course or the main event, most pastadishes require some last-minute attention.

Not so with these two puffpastry-crusted pasta pies we sampled in Italy. The cooked and sauced pasta can stand as long as an hour; itreheats as its pastry jacket browns. Let the hot pasta pie stand atleast 30 minutes so it will cut neatly, then offer wedges as an elegantfirst course or the main dish for lunch. Meat-filled tortellini in a cream and Parmesan cheese sauce fillsthe first pie. The second, a creation of the Hotel Europa Regina inVenice, combines slender tubes of pasta in a veal and green pea sauce. Tortellini Pasta Pie 1 package (17 1/4 oz.) frozen puff pastry sheets 2 packages (12 oz.

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each) frozen meat-filled tortellini Water 2 cups whipping cream 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese 1/2 cup chopped parsley Thaw pastry as package directs. Meanwhile, cook tortellini, uncovered, in 3 1/2 to 4 quarts boilingwater until just tender to bite, about 20 minutes–or as packagedirects. Drain well. In a bowl, combine tortellini, cream, and cheese.Let stand until cool or up to 1 hour; stir occasionally. Roll out both sheets of puff pastry, each into a 14-inch square.

Ifdone ahead, keep pastry flat, covered, and cold up to 2 hours. Fit onesquare of pastry into a 9-inch pan (about 3 in. deep) with removablebottom, letting excess pastry drape over rim. Stir parsley into the tortellini mixture, then pour or scoop intopastry-lined pan. Top with second square of pastry.

With a sharpknife, cut excess pastry off about 1/4 inch from pan rim; set scrapsaside. Pinch edges of pstry sheets together; fold down between pan andpie, and crimp to seal securely. Using floured cooky cutters or a sharp knife, cut decorative shapessuch as leaves, geometric shapes, or animals from the scraps of pastry.Moisten one side of each piece with water and lay wet side onto pie;decorative pieces can overlap. With a sharp knife, cut 4 to 6 slashesin the top of the crust. Bake pie on the lowest rack of a 425| oven until crust is a richgolden brown (cream may bubble up through slashes), about 45 minutes.

Let pie cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes, then remove pan sides andlet stand at least 15 minutes or as long as 30 minutes for filling tofirm slightly before cutting pie. Serves 8 to 10 as a first course or 6to 8 as a luncheon entree. Venetian Pasta and Veal Pie 1/2 cup each chopped onion and carrot 2 tablespoons butter or margarine 1/2 pound ground veal 1/4 pound mushrooms, chopped 1/2 teaspoon dry thyme leaves 1/4 cup each dry white wine and regular-strength chicken broth 2 tablespoons tomato paste 6 ounces dried slender tube-shaped pasta (such as bucatini orperciatelle) Water Bechamel sauce (recipe follows) 1 cup frozen petite peas 1 package (17 1/4 oz.) frozen puff pastry sheets In a 10-to 12-inch frying pan over medium heat, cook onion andcarrot in butter until onion is very soft, about 10 minutes; stir often.Crumble in veal and cook, stirring, until meat loses its pink color.Stir in mushrooms, thyme, and wine; simmer, uncovered, until wineevaporates, about 15 minutes; stir often. Add broth and tomato pasteand cook, stirring, until liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes. Cool.

Cook pasta, uncovered, in 3 to 4 quarts boiling water until tenderto bite, about 10 minutes. Drain well. In a bowl, combine meatmixture, pasta, bechamel sauce, and peas. If made ahead, let stand upto 4 hour.

Thaw puff pastry as package directs. Roll out both sheets ofpastry, each into a 14-inch square. If done ahead, keep flat, covered,and cold up to 2 hours. Fit one pastry square into a 9-inch pan (about 3 in. deep) withremovable bottom. Pour pasta mixture into pastry; top with theremaining pasta square. With a sharp knife, cut excess pastry off about1/4 inch from pan rim; save scraps. Pinch edges of pastry sheetstogether; fold down between pie and pan, and crimp to seal.

Using floured cooky cutters or a sharp knife, cut decorative shapesfrom scraps. Moisten one side of each cut shape with water and lay wetside onto pie; press pastry gently to secure to pie top. Make 4 to 6slashes in the crust. Bake pie on the lowest rack of a 425| oven until crust is a richgolden brown, about 45 minutes.

Let pie cool in pan on a rack for 15minutes, then remove pan sides and let stand at least 15 minutes or aslong as 30 minutes for filling to firm slightly. Cut pie into wedges.Serves 8 to 10 as a first course or 6 to 8 as a luncheon entree. Bechamel sauce. In a 1-to 1 1/2-quart pan, melt 3 tablespoonsbutter or margarine over medium heat.

Stir in 3 tablespoons all-purposeflour and cook, stirring, until bubbly. Blend in 3/4 cup eachregular-strength chicken broth and whipping cream. Cook, stirring,until sauce boils and thickens. Let cool; if made ahead, cover andchill as long as 2 days. Photo: Wedge of pasta pie reveals meat-filled tortellini blendedwith cream and cheese inside a tender puff pastry crust.

Serve as afirst course or luncheon entree Photo: Scoop cool seasoned tortellini into pan lined with thinlyrolled puff pastry; top with more pastry Photo: Crimp pastry rim to seal pie. Cut decorative shapes frompastry scraps and lay on top of crust

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