Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pasta Ricotta: What Summer Tastes Like

Since the last post didn't contain any actual recipe, here's a quick one to keep you going. I read about this dish years ago at a friend's house in a cookbook that I couldn't pick out of a lineup of Italian cookbooks if my life depended on it at this point. The book's long-winded description of it essentially boiled down to: this is an ideal food to make during a long night of drinking. Its appeal is actually wider than that, though. Its precious few ingredients and simple composition mean that not only can you make it when you're half in the bag, but that each of those few ingredients shine.

Much of New England had a cool, rainy spell at the end of May/beginning of June this year, which means that tomatoes have been a little slow coming in. While we've been picking cherry tomatoes for almost a month now, the big slicers from the farmshare just started coming in last week. Et puis, la déluge: We brought home nearly a dozen big slicing tomatoes this week. The basil's been going strong for a while now, both at the farm and in our specialized home herb planter (right). Finally, they get to come together. The dish is as simple as this: pasta, tomato, basil, garlic, ricotta. It's hard to get closer to the taste of summer without just eating a slice of tomato with a basil leaf on top.

    Pasta Ricotta

    Serves 2-3

  • ½ lb. pasta, shape of your choice, cooked
  • 1 med-large tomato, large dice (1½-2 c.)
  • 1-1½ c. basil, washed and torn
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • 1-1½ c. ricotta
  • salt & pepper to taste

  • A few variations that don't meaningfully increase the amount of effort:
  • Replace all or part of the ricotta with chèvre.
  • Add red pepper flake or sliced fresh hot pepper.
  • Mash a few anchovies in with the garlic.
  • Include toasted, rough chopped pine nuts or walnuts, à la pesto.
  • Toss in a little chopped fresh spinach.
Cook pasta. All other prep can be accomplished while pasta is cooking. Prep tomato, basil and garlic as indicated. Mix those three in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. When pasta is cooked and drained, empty in to large bowl and add vegetables and ricotta. Toss until combined and add salt and pepper to taste.

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