Monday, January 01, 2018

A fresh start

<deep breath and exhale>

That little blinking cursor is just as intimidating as ever. There are so many things to say but I'm unsure of where to I will start with something simple.

Hello again, it's been a while.

I've never been one to make new years resolutions but this year it just seemed the right thing to do, or at least, it has given me that final push to start again.

I'd like to thank my friends - both online and IRL - that have gently encouraged me, your kind words seemed to always come at the right time to brighten even the darkest of days. Most of all, I'd like to thank my husband, just for always being there - through all the changes, you've been the constant.

When it came time to think of what I should cook first, I knew it needed to be something to honor my mother and nothing fills that requirement more than pasta.

In Italy, it's traditional at this time of the year to have a dish of cotechino and lentils and while I love maintaining traditions I also like to give them a little twist. I've made plin - which is a traditional filled pasta from Piemonte - but filled them with a mixture of cotechino and potato and served them with a ragu of Castelluccio lentils.

Cotechino filled Plin with Castellucio Lentil Ragu

For the Plin

Pasta Dough
70 grams 00 flour
30 grams semola rimacinata
1 egg, lightly whisked
pinch salt

equal quantities of cooked cotechino and boiled potato, crushed

Make the dough:

Traditionally this is done on the pasta board, but I like to do it in a bowl, it just helps to keep things contained.

Mix together the flours with a pinch of salt.

Make a well in the center and pour in the egg. Mix using your fingertips or a fork until all the flour has been absorbed by the egg - if it seems too dry, drizzle in a teaspoon of water. Keep mixing until it starts clumping together and then tip it out onto a lightly floured board. Knead until it starts feeling smooth and silky and then form into a ball.

Wrap it in clingfilm and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Make the filling:

This is the perfect recipe to make use of leftover cotechino as half the job is already done. If starting from scratch you'll need to boil your cotechino - time needed depends on the size of the cotechino.

Place the cooked cotechino and boiled potato into a food processor and pulse until evenly mixed - taste and adjust seasoning as required.

Put the filling into a piping bag and set aside until ready to make the plin.

These are Plin and they probably deserve their own post to show you just how they are made but trust me when I say, they are simple and quick to make.

These are the first three steps:

Final step is to cut them into individual plin.

For the ragu:

1 red onion, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
2 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup Castelluccio lentils

Prepare the Lentils:

Place the lentils in a pot and generously cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the lentils are tender - about 20 to 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Make the ragu:

Pour a good dollop of olive oil and a knob of butter into a heavy based saucepan and place on a medium heat - when the butter has melted, tip in the onions, carrots, celery and sage. Cook slowly, allowing it to soften but not colour - this should take about 15 to 20 minutes. When you start to see that the vegetables are starting to develop colour add in the chopped tomatoes and a little stock or water and allow it to simmer and reduce for another 15 to 20 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and stir until evenly mixed through.

Add the drained lentils and crushed tomatoes - stir. Add enough water to almost cover the mixture and let it simmer for another 15 minutes - you want the flavours to mingle and the sauce to reduce. Taste and season as desired.

Assemble the dish:

Fresh plin will only take a minute or two to cook.

Make sure that the water is at a rolling boil and that the water is salted.

Once cooked, drain the plin and place on a serving dish, dollop over the ragu and toss gently.

Serve at once. more thing.

You might have noticed that I've redone the site - it's not quite finished but it all should work.


  1. YAY! Welcome back! SO glad you're posting again!

  2. I'm glad to see you again.
    For the past few years I've been sharing your banana, hazelnut, chocolate chip bread with everyone :) .

    Happy holidays!

    1. Thanks Ana - always lovely to hear that the recipes have been enjoyed. :) All the best!

  3. Welcome back, Haalo! Looking forward to seeing more in 2018.

  4. Happy New Year, Haalo. I love what you've made (Piemonte and Umbria paired elegantly in your dish) and the photos are gorgeous.

    1. Happy New Year to you Simona! Thank you!

  5. SOOO happy you started posting again! I've missed your wonderful ideas!

  6. Fresh making nice post thanks for sharing


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