Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Elemental Transfiguration: Pasta Salads
by SuSu

"It's better to keep it simple," explained Molly Weasley to her new daughter-in-law. No need to make some things when it's cheaper to buy them, especially for a purpose like this."

Fleur Weasley was newly married to the eldest of the Weasley boys. Their wedding had ended in tragedy, with the arrival of Kingsley Shacklebolt's patronus, which had announced the assassination of the Minister of Magic. Even so, Molly Weasley had kept her head and insisted that those remaining at the wedding be fed properly, even though none of them could leave to collect ingredients. "We'll just throw some things together, it'll be fine," said the intrepid woman.

Bill had assured his new bride that though no one could violate the five exceptions to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration (food being one of them), his mother was a genius at being able to appear to make food from nothing. Gamp's Law's exception states that though food could not be created from nothing, once it was procured it could be multiplied or manipulated with magic.

In the midst of uncertainty and hysteria, Molly bustled about and found some pasta, some leftover vegetables, and some plants from the garden. She made a pasta salad, but to keep people from growing bored with pasta salad, she cleverly concocted variations from her limited stores.

Tortellini Salad
"This dish is for you, dear," said Molly, talking to her new daughter-in-law. "It's said that an innkeeper noticed the goddess Venus statying at his tavern. He was naughty and went up to her room to peek at her through the keyhole." Despite the stressful house arrest situation, Fleur found herself absorbed in Molly's tale and laughed. "What did he see, Maman?" She referred to her mother-in-law in with the French term for "mother."

"Not as much as you'd think, you naughty girl! But I'll bet you do keep Bill happy," Molly winked at Fleur. "What the innkeeper saw was Venus's bellybutton ... and it was apparently so perfect that he ran back to his kitchen to create something. He was an artist in the kitchen, so he used what he knew — pasta!"

Molly was deftly rolling out dough and filling them with a tiny bit of a cheese mixture, then folding and turning them to make little dumplings. "Can't you guess? He made perfect bellybuttons!"

Fleur and Molly laughed. But try as she might, Fleur could not replicate the shape of the "bellybuttons." Molly showed her a trick, "Choose the one perfect one from the many you make ... and simply, REPLICO!"

With the wave of her wand, Molly filled a large bowl with Venus's bellybuttons! "Be sure to make too many. Just lay the extras onto a sheet to freeze them, so you have some for next time, dear."
  • salt
  • frozen small-to-medium sized tortellini
  • pesto
  • parmesan cheese, grated
  • peas
  • salt, to taste
Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add salt, about a tablespoon. Add the tortellini — still frozen — into the boling water and stir to keep them from sticking together. They will rise to the surface as they start to thaw and cook. Try them to determine when they are cooked. Remove the tortellini using a spider to scoop them out of the boiling water, and dump into a large bowl. It's okay if a bit of the cooking water stays with the dumplings as they get transferred to the bowl.

While still warm, dump the pesto and grated parmesan cheese directly onto the pesto and toss carefully. Add the peas and tough; they'll nestle in the belly-buttons. Season to taste with salt, if desired.

Back to the Menu: Pasta Salad - Elemental Transfiguration

Gemmeli with Pesto & Pine Nuts
"Maman," inquired Fleur Weasley, "from where does the Pesto come?"

"Oh, I'm glad you asked, dear," replied Molly. "It's a good lesson. But here is an important point, and part of being a good cook: though you can replicate any food, it tends to lose its essence the more you replicate it."

"Ah!" declared Fleur, "that is why some things do not taste as good on one remembers, oui?"

"Exactly," agreed Molly. "And besides, the family does get tired of eating the same thigns all the time, so it's best to start with the undiluted primal ingredients and not get too carried away. I'll show you how to make this pesto, dear, but you must learn to grow the basil, and diluting the pine nuts will end up not making a good sauce, and the garlic must be potent ... well, you get the idea, dear!"
  • basil leaves
  • garlic cloves
  • pine nuts, toasted
  • olive oil
  • parmesan cheese, grated
Using a food processor or blender, add cleaned and dried basil leaves, peeled and crushed garlic cloves, toasted pine nuts and pulse while drizzling in olive oil. Continue to pulse until a paste is formed.

At this point, you can freeze the pesto by putting a portion into a small cup and covering with plastic wrap, putting the wrap directly down onto the surface of the pesto. Wrap with additional plastic wrap, to keep the smell of the garlic away from other foods in the freezer.

To serve, add the parmesan cheese and salt to taste. Use as a sauce and toss with warm pasta, potatoes, or vegetables.
  • 2 lbs / 900 g dried gemmeli
  • pesto
  • pine nuts, toasted
  • salt, to taste
Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add the gemmeli and stir till the water comes back to a rolling boil. Put a lid onto the pot, then turn off the heat. Allow to steep till the gemmeli is al dente to the tooth. Reserve a cup of the water, and drain the pasta. Put the pesto directly onto the hot pasta. If the pesto seems to be too "tight" add a bit of cooking water. Toss the pine nuts and season with salt, to taste.

Back to the Menu: Pasta Salad - Elemental Transfiguration

Farfalle Salad, Asian-y Style
"As I said," started Molly, "some foods should not be extended because their essence and deliciousness are so vital in their fullness. But the stuff that is supposed to be kind of bland anyway, that can be extended quite far. The pasta shaped like butterflies is a good candidate, especially since the sauce we put on it is so flavorful."

Molly explained to Fleur about the many foreign wizards Arthur would run into through his work, and how he'd enjoy receiving gifts of soy sauce and sesame oil. He'd often eat with them, and come tell Molly about the exotic sauces he'd eaten. "It sounded so good, that I took some of those exotic gifts to make a sauce for pasta. And I'd fill it out with veggies from the garden. It's a good way to get children to eat their veggies, too, remember that!"

    Asian-y Vinaigrette
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon powdered ginger or 1 teaspoon minced fresh, depending on which you prefer
  • 1 clove garlic, minced fine
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 scallion, cross-sliced thinly (use both green and white parts)
Put all the ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting screw-lid and shake well to combine. Makes about one cup.

  • 1 lb / 450 g farfalle (bowtie) noodles
  • Asian-y Vinaigrette
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced thinly crosswise
  • ½ cucumber, peeled and seeded, cubed
  • ½ red or sweet onion, sliced thinly
  • toasted sesame seeds or chopped peanuts, or sliced almonds, for garnish
  • scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish
Boil a large pot of water with a tablespoon of salt, and cook the pasta until al dente (barely cooked "to the tooth"). Drain thoroughly and while still hot, quickly toss the pasta with the vinaigrette. The noodles should darken as it absorbs the sauce. Spread it out on a cookie sheet, so that the pasta cools quickly.

Toss with the carrots, cucumber, and onion. If desired, garnish with nuts and sliced scallions.

Yields a large bowl of pasta salad, about 2 quarts.

Back to the Menu: Pasta Salad - Elemental Transfiguration

Ziti Salad
Fleur realized that the guests would eat without thinking soon after the patronus had spoken, but a magical change came over them as they shared their meals. Molly's efforts to create a blend of familiarity and interest was comforting to everyone, yet took their minds off of the crises at hand.

Bearing this in mind, Fleur tried her hand at creating a pasta salad that the French guests would find familiar yet interesting. She set to creating a sort of remoulade sauce — a mayonnaise based dressing containing pickles and fresh vegetables — and putting them over pasta. Following her mother-in-law's advise, she did not stretch the sauce out much through replication. She understood that flavor and texture would suffer for it. However, the pasta could be replicated, since the sauce was flavorful enough to compensate for the blandness of the salad base. In fact, she discovered that she could double the amount of pasta and still have a good salad; it would simply be less wet, which isn't a bad thing.

The secret ingredient, which Fleur learned from Molly, was a frankly American product — a beef-based bouillon powder. "It's the perfect thing for a mild sauce or soup," explained Molly, "why worry about it's nationality?"

  • 1 lb / 450 g ziti noodles (or penne, rigatoni, rotini, farfalle)
  • 2 medium green peppers, cored, seeded, chopped roughly
  • 2 medium tomatoes, ripe, chopped roughly
  • 1 medium sweet onion, like vidalia, maui, or a red onion, chopped
  • 6 - 12 sweet gherkins, chopped, according to taste
  • large handful of dill tops, very roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ¼ cup pickle juice
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 packet G. Washington Bouillon powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Boil the pasta in lots of hot water until al dente tender and rinse quickly with cold water to stop cooking. Place in a very large bowl.

Make the sauce by mixing together milk, sour cream, mayonnaise, pickly juice, dill and bouillon powder. Blend very well and pour over the pasta. Dump the chopped vegetables in. Fold everything together carefully with your hands, till blended well. Be careful not to tear the pasta. Serve chilled. Refrigerate leftovers.

Makes 10 servings or more.

Back to the Menu: Pasta Salad - Elemental Transfiguration

Ravioli Salad
So good were Molly's pasta salads that she eventually ran out of lefovers to put into other dishes. In fact, she was down to a big economy bag of frozen ravioli she intended to save for some special occasion and a few vegetables and herbs from her garden. (There was so little left in the garden that there were no garden gnomes prowling about!)

"This is as special event as any," Molly assured her son, for Bill recognized his mother's special stash of dumplings, which she normally served in a soup. "I'd always wanted to feature them on their own, they're so good. And don't they look like little pregnant bellies? And so many of them, reproducing without end, over and over!"

Bill blushed at his mother's rather unsubtle request for a grandchild. He realized that he'd best get his bride on their honeymoon and away from the family before his mother became more blatant, even if he had to run past a blockade of Death Eaters! (At least they'd be well-fed.)

  • 1 part red wine or cider vinegar
  • 3 parts olive oil
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • ½ part prepared mustard (like Dijon)
TIP: When your mustard jar is nearly empty, use the jar itself to mix your ingredients. It will help "clean out" the jar of every bit of mustard, and will allow you to mix everything easily.

Put all ingredients in a jar with a tightly fitting screw-top lid and shake well to combine. Be sure to taste for seasoning.

  • cheese-filled ravioli, frozen
  • fresh tomatoes, diced
  • fresh basil, chiffonade
  • red onions or scallions, thinly sliced
  • vinaigrette
Boil a large pot of water and add salt. Add the ravioli and stir to separate them from each other. They will be done when they float up the to the surface, plus another 30 seconds. Scoop out with a spider or pasta scoop or colander and rinse with cold water to cool the ravioli. Place in a bowl and toss with vinaigrette, to taste.

Toss the tomatoes, basil, and onions with the pasta, in proportions you find appealing. This is an opportunistic salad, and if you have other vegetables or herbs you'd like to try with the ravioli, go for it!

Back to the Menu: Pasta Salad - Elemental Transfiguration

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