Pasta pies Essay

Pasta pies



Whether served as a first course or the main event, most pasta
dishes require some last-minute attention. Not so with these two puff
pastry-crusted pasta pies we sampled in Italy.

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The cooked and sauced pasta can stand as long as an hour; it
reheats as its pastry jacket browns. Let the hot pasta pie stand at
least 30 minutes so it will cut neatly, then offer wedges as an elegant
first course or the main dish for lunch.



Meat-filled tortellini in a cream and Parmesan cheese sauce fills
the first pie. The second, a creation of the Hotel Europa Regina in
Venice, 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. 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 boiling
water until just tender to bite, about 20 minutes–or as package
directs. 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. If
done ahead, keep pastry flat, covered, and cold up to 2 hours. Fit one
square of pastry into a 9-inch pan (about 3 in. deep) with removable
bottom, letting excess pastry drape over rim.


Stir parsley into the tortellini mixture, then pour or scoop into
pastry-lined pan. Top with second square of pastry. With a sharp
knife, cut excess pastry off about 1/4 inch from pan rim; set scraps
aside. Pinch edges of pstry sheets together; fold down between pan and
pie, and crimp to seal securely.



Using floured cooky cutters or a sharp knife, cut decorative shapes
such 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 slashes
in the top of the crust.



Bake pie on the lowest rack of a 425| oven until crust is a rich
golden 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 and
let stand at least 15 minutes or as long as 30 minutes for filling to
firm slightly before cutting pie. Serves 8 to 10 as a first course or 6
to 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 or
perciatelle)



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 and
carrot 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 wine
evaporates, about 15 minutes; stir often. Add broth and tomato paste
and cook, stirring, until liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes. Cool.



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



Thaw puff pastry as package directs. Roll out both sheets of
pastry, 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) with
removable bottom. Pour pasta mixture into pastry; top with the
remaining pasta square. With a sharp knife, cut excess pastry off about
1/4 inch from pan rim; save scraps. Pinch edges of pastry sheets
together; fold down between pie and pan, and crimp to seal.



Using floured cooky cutters or a sharp knife, cut decorative shapes
from scraps. Moisten one side of each cut shape with water and lay wet
side onto pie; press pastry gently to secure to pie top. Make 4 to 6
slashes in the crust.



Bake pie on the lowest rack of a 425| oven until crust is a rich
golden brown, about 45 minutes. Let pie cool in pan on a rack for 15
minutes, then remove pan sides and let stand at least 15 minutes or as
long 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 tablespoons
butter or margarine over medium heat. Stir in 3 tablespoons all-purpose
flour and cook, stirring, until bubbly. Blend in 3/4 cup each
regular-strength chicken broth and whipping cream. Cook, stirring,
until sauce boils and thickens. Let cool; if made ahead, cover and
chill as long as 2 days.



Photo: Wedge of pasta pie reveals meat-filled tortellini blended
with cream and cheese inside a tender puff pastry crust. Serve as a
first course or luncheon entree



Photo: Scoop cool seasoned tortellini into pan lined with thinly
rolled puff pastry; top with more pastry



Photo: Crimp pastry rim to seal pie. Cut decorative shapes from
pastry scraps and lay on top of crust

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