Pasta With Vegetables And Fresh Ricotta Cheese

Fresh pasta can be served as a base for a variety of sauces and with many vegetables, but I've chosen vegetables here that are a bit lighter so as to not overshadow the delicate taste of the pasta. The fresh ricotta, added at the end, adds even more creaminess to the dish.

Pasta With Vegetables And Fresh Ricotta Cheese i i
Nicole Spiridakis for NPR
Pasta With Vegetables And Fresh Ricotta Cheese
Nicole Spiridakis for NPR

Makes 4 servings

2 batches homemade pasta (recipe below), cut or rolled into fettuccine-like strands

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium red onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 cup fresh or frozen peas

1/2 cup reserved pasta cooking water

3 cups baby spinach or spinach leaves, chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup ricotta cheese (see recipe)

Cook the pasta and reserve about 5 tablespoons of cooking water after draining.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until translucent and soft, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the butter and stir until melted. Add the peas and two tablespoons of water and cook for a few minutes until the peas begin to soften. Add the spinach and cook until wilted. Add the oregano, salt and pepper, the rest of water and the Parmesan cheese and cook, stirring lightly to make a sauce.

Toss with the freshly cooked pasta, trying to coat each strand. To serve, divide the pasta into 4 bowls, and divide the ricotta evenly between each, dropping the cheese by teaspoonfuls into the pasta.


Pasta

I've actually never made pasta in a machine, though I'd like to; point being that if you don't own one, it's still quite easy to make your own pasta. As you gain experience, you'll learn how much water you do or don't need. Fresh pasta cooks in far less time than the dried stuff, so watch carefully and test early to make sure you don't overcook it.

Makes 2 servings, easily doubled

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (or 1 cup flour, 3/4 cup semolina flour)

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 tablespoon water

In a medium-sized bowl, combine flour and salt. Make a well in the flour, add the eggs and olive oil and mix with a wooden spoon or your hands. Add a little water if the dough seems too dry, and knead for about 4 minutes until all ingredients are incorporated and the dough is smooth, adding a little more water if necessary. Lightly roll the ball of dough in olive oil and put in a bowl, covered, to rest for about 20 minutes.

If using a pasta machine, set to desired width and feed the dough into the machine. If cutting by hand, roll out the dough to desired thinness on a lightly floured board, and use a sharp knife to cut into strips. Then dust lightly with flour and lay out on a clean kitchen towel to dry for about 10 minutes before cooking.

To cook, bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, stir and cook about 2 to 3 minutes, testing for doneness.

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