Friday, May 01, 2009
PENNE WITH ASPARAGUS, RICOTTA, AND BASIL
As the five-year anniversary of this blog approacheth (that’s how we used to talk in the olden days before the Internet, you know), I wonder how this is still possible: Here we have a very nice pasta recipe (from my old standby, Jack Bishop’s Pasta e Verdura) that I feel I’ve made many times, but somehow I’ve never posted it. Has it really been years since I last cooked it? Or did it just slip through the cracks?
I was reminded of this pasta while eating my recent asparagus, ricotta, and salami pizza, so I had to make it this week and finally share it with you. It’s creamy, delicately flavored, springy, and remarkably easy—no sautéing required, even: just boil, steam, and mix. There are no bold tastes here, so be sure to use a generous hand with the salt and pepper; in fact, I found myself thinking that a little lemon zest mixed into the ricotta might be the very thing to take this up to the next level. But in the meantime, I have been eating the leftovers all week and can vouch that the current level is very nice indeed.
2 pounds asparagus
1⅓ cups ricotta cheese
⅔ cup freshly grated Parmesan
½ cup minced fresh basil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound penne pasta
1. Bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil to cook the pasta.
2. Meanwhile, snap off the tough ends of the asparagus and cut the spears in half lengthwise, then slice them into 1-inch-long pieces. Steam until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes.
3. Combine the two cheeses with the basil, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Set aside.
4. Cook the pasta until al dente. Just before it is done, carefully remove ⅓ cup of the cooking water and stir it into the cheese mixture. The cheese sauce should be smooth and creamy.
5. Drain the pasta, making sure some water still clings to the noodles. Toss the hot pasta with the ricotta mixture and asparagus. Mix well to coat the pasta with the sauce.
Time: 30 minutes
Leftover potential: High.