Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Quick Creamy Pasta

This was inspired by a post at Apartment Therapy (not that I live in an apartment) and I was reminded of a pasta dish I used to make often. It's a pasta with a cream sauce, but the sauce is pulled together from ricotta and a little pasta cooking water. It comes together right on the pasta and is super easy. If you use part-skim ricotta it's also much lighter than an alfredo or other cream sauce.

I used orchiette (little "ear" shaped pasta), but this would be good with any sauce-catching pasta like fusilli, gemelli or pennette. I had garlic confit, kalamata olives and sun-dried tomatoes in the fridge - so that's what went in. I also used the beet greens from a bunch of beets I'm putting in borscht tonight.

You could use any combination of vegetables and pickled thing - just use whatever you've got in the fridge. I listed a few suggestions for you at the end of the recipe.

Pasta with Olives, Tomatoes, Beet Greens and Garlic
serves 4
  • 1 pound of orchiette, fusilli, gemelli or pennette
  • 2 cups of chopped beet greens
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup garlic confit (about 1 head of roasted garlic)
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and torn into pieces
  • 2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
  • parmesan cheese, for serving
Boil the pasta until al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce: In a large skillet, saute the beet greens in a little olive oil until wilted. Add the tomatoes, garlic and olives. Saute until everything is warmed through and fragrant. Add the ricotta to the pan and stir it in to make a sauce-like mixture. The sauce will stay a little grainy because it's ricotta. (If you want a smooth sauce, you can blend the ricotta in a food processor to smooth it out - to me, that's a but much for a weeknight dish.)

Reserve about one coffee mug's worth of water from the pasta pot. When the pasta is done, add the pasta directly to the pan with the sauce. Add pasta water to the pan as needed, to make the mixture "saucy". Taste for salt (you may not need any because of the olives).

Serve topped with a little parmesan cheese and freshly ground pepper.

Other flavor pairings:
  • Shredded radicchio, capers, caramelized onions
  • Baby spinach, crumbled bacon, cherry tomatoes
  • Roasted butternut squash, chopped fresh sage, sauteed red onion
  • Cooked sausage, roasted peppers, capers


mary said...

Oh, YUM. This is comfort food, if you ask me! :)

Stefan Jones said...

Can you suggest an alternative to beet greens? Something with a similar tang, but easier to get?

(There's a farmer's market in Hillsboro, but it is closed for the season...)

Someday I'll have to send you my receipt for "Dollar Tree Seafood Pasta Salad." Didn't turn out that badly.

Sunday Cook said...

Hi Stefan!

I'd use arugula or swiss chard (stems and all) or spinach. Really, whatever you've got in the fridge. You don't need a lot - so just use up what's lying around.

Sunday Cook said...

BTW - I am very curious to hear about your Dollar Tree pasta.

Stefan Jones said...

Everything in Dollar Tree pasta salad comes from . . . Dollar Tree.

Rotini, sliced olives, a little olive oil, canned crab meat, canned tiny shrimp. Minced garlic and other spices.

OK. I did put in a half container of leftover plain yogurt that wasn't from Dollar Tree. That was an afterthought. (Some Dollar Tree stores do have a cooler with dairy stuff, so there is actually a chance they'd have yogurt or sour cream as well.)

The real goal wasn't price, but portability. You could put this together while camping, or in a hobo jungle.

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