Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Elemental Transfiguration: Pasta Salads
Menu: Tortellini Salad | Farfalle Salad with Asian-y Vinaigrette | Gemmeli with Pesto and Pine Nuts | Ziti Salad | Ravioli Salad dressed in Vinaigrette
"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.
"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."
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.
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!"
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.
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!"
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.
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?"
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.
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.)
Put all ingredients in a jar with a tightly fitting screw-top lid and shake well to combine. Be sure to taste for seasoning.
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!
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