A simple pasta is a live saver. How many nights are you rescued from eating out of a box just because you know how to throw together a good simple pasta? First tip: Don’t just rely on tomato sauce to coat the pasta. I love good sweet, milky ricotta and when I’m at a store where I can find it I tend to go overboard and buy a bit too much. So it’s ricotta on toast for breakfast, ricotta with fruit for lunch and ricotta as the “sauce” for a quick seasonal pasta. In this dish I started with ricotta, then saw I had some pesto, added a couple of tablespoons of that, then added some crunchy sweet baby tomatoes and slices of green onion. While I was waiting for my pasta water to boil I discovered a couple of tiny zucchini with flowers attached and an ear of corn that needed to be used up. So I cut the niblets off the corn, sliced the zucchini in half lengthwise and shredded the flowers with my fingers. I added them during the last five minutes of pasta cooking time. Voila. The (extremely critical) Mom gave it two thumbs up. The big “technique” here is to add a few tablespoons of pasta cooking water to the ricotta mixture to loosen it so that is coats the noodles. I didn’t add parmesan because I wanted the clear flavors of the vegetables to dominate. But please add it if you’re a cheese hound.
This idea of adding quick cooking vegetables to pasta cooking water is something to keep in mind when you shop at Farmers Mkts and always have veg in the fridge that you need to use. Spinach leaves? Dill? Cauliflower? You get the picture.
* What is good ricotta? It’s ricotta made in the real Italian style. It’s been allow to drain of whey so it’s drier. Whole Foods and Costco carries Angelo and Franco’s which actually is packed in a little basket. Most restaurants either make their own or buy it from Gioia Cheese which is where I bought mine for Angeli for years. You can find Gioia at Bay Cities Italian Deli in Santa Monica and Monte Carlo in Burbank. If you know of anywhere else to find it in LA or elsewhere please share in the comments section.