Saturday, December 19, 2009

From the Vault: A Pizza and Pasta Party with the bouncing souls, aquabats, Sam's spaghetti band and smile pasta

There is nothing worse than bad pizza and the Tampa area has some real stinkers. For two years I consumed overdone, tasteless, dry, even chlorine laced pies before striking gold.

The problem is that after spending the first twenty years of my life eating Pizza Hut, Dominoes, Pino's (a small scale New York style pizza joint in Newville that reportedly served drugs on the side), Tony's frozen pizza and Ellio's cardboard covered cheese, I moved to Chicago and enjoyed some of the best pizza in the world. After relocating to Gainesville I discovered Satchel's Deep Dish (like eating Heaven baked in an oven) in the back of a Volkswagen Van.

The pie that saved Tampa came from La Prima Pizza, a corner store in a Target strip mall. J-fur and I stopped there once on a whim and I wasn't expecting much. After some deliberation we decided to go with La Prima Pizza's Sicilian (which is square with thick crust). That was a decision that neither of us would regret. The pizza was extremely doughy and soft with just the right blend of cheese and sauce. Adding in some garlic and basil provided just enough kick to keep our taste buds honest. The best part of the deal? Between the two of us we were only able to finish three slices. That meant that six more went home with us. If you ever in Tampa with a craving for Sicilian style pizza make La Prima Pizza a destination. I'd love to vouch for their subs or thin crust slices but I've never tried them. The Sicilian just holds too much clout.

On the pasta side of things I posted an interview with Frederik from Solander almost two months ago and in the interview he provided us with a recipe for Cannelloni (original recipe here). Frederik checked back in with me last week and asked if I had tried it. I told him that I hadn't yet but I would do so shortly. I made some modifications to Frederik's version in order to better fit J-Fur's tastes (I did not include the white sauce which would've been too creamy for her) and it came out wonderfully. So wonderfully that I awarded it my recipe of the week.

Solander's Cannelloni (Tender B. Manicotti Remix)
(printable version)

-1 Tbs olive oil
-18 oz spinach
-4 cloves garlic
-6 oz neufchatel cheese
-salt and pepper to taste
-1 box manicotti (about 14 noodles)
-20 oz tomato sauce
-Parmesan, grated
-Mozzarella, shredded

1. Preheat oven to 420 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Heat the olive oil in a wok or non stick frying pan. Add spinach and garlic and heat until spinach is wilted. Stir in neufchatel cheese to create a creamy spinach mixture. Add salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

2. Cook pasta according to directions on the box. After draining the pasta, cut open and place laid out pasta on wax paper. Begin stuffing the noodles with the spinach mixture and then placing in a 9x13 glass dish. Repeat until all noodles have been filled with spinach.

3. Cover the noodles with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese. Add just a little mozzarella. Bake for 20 minutes.

Music from the serious:
Bouncing Souls-Pizza Song

To the "if you want to laugh while you cook:"

The Aquabats-Pizza Day

Sam's Spaghetti Band-I already have a girlfriend

Smile Pasta-Rainbow Smile

La Prima Pizza on Urbanspoon