With the weather turning a bit warmer here, at least enough to make the pollen fly, culinary thoughts turn to lighter flavors. For the Practical Cook, that often means lemon and parsley. Today’s dish features both, plus asparagus and ricotta. This dish is light, simple, and was very well-received by the whole crew.
Did I mention the whole wheat linguine? No, I did not. But seriously, try the De Cecco Whole Wheat Linguine. I’ve tried them all, and it’s the best.
Pasta Toss with Lemony Ricotta and Asparagus Recipe
1/2 pound dry pasta, something noodley works best (spaghetti, thin spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine)
1 medium-sized container of ricotta (or cottage cheese, blended smooth), ~1 or 1 1/2 cups
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 lemon, zested (with your Microplane zester!) and juiced (through a strainer please)
8 to 10 ounces of mushrooms, sliced thin
1 large bunch of asparagus, tough ends snapped off and reserved for another use (like veggie stock), rinsed and patted dry, cut into thirds
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 handful fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1. Bring water to boil for pasta. Add salt, cook according to directions on package, reserving 1 or 2 cups of the pasta water.
2. Meanwhile, combine ricotta, Parmesan, lemon juice and zest in medium bowl, beating (by hand or with hand-held mixer) until smooth.
3. Heat a splash of olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat until oil shimmers but isn’t smoking. Saute mushrooms until they release their water, about 7 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
4. Add a little more oil to the same saute pan and reduce heat to medium. Heat until oil shimmers. Toss asparagus pieces in and stir-fry until crisp tender, with time depending on thickness of the asparagus. Just before asparagus is done, toss in the minced garlic, leaving on heat about 30 seconds to a minute, until you smell the garlic. Remove from heat and set aside.
4. Thin the ricotta mixture with the reserved pasta water, a little bit at a time, to your preferred consistency.
5. Toss pasta and ricotta mixture in saute pan with mushrooms and asparagus mixture, gently now. Taste for seasoning, adding salt, pepper, Parmesan, and lemon juice to taste. Finish with chopped parsley.
That’s it! Simpler than a full-fledged pasta bake, less of a calorie bomb than full-on Alfredo.
Coming up tomorrow, a St. Patrick’s Day retrospective featuring my new favorite Irish Brown Bread. So easy even I can make it, and believe you me, I’m a cook, not a baker. (There’s a difference, we will certainly have that discussion here, gentle readers.)
Until then, what’s in your pasta? practicalcook at gmail dot com