I am definitely cooking more Italian food here in Italy. Weird enough, because if you asked me, I would have told you that of course I always cook Italian food. Well, I guess I must be inspired by the ingredients, or to be fair, by the lack of non Italian ingredients.
This pasta is a direct byproduct of what my fruttivendolo sells – the fruit and vegetable stall at the corner, where I do all my vegetable shopping these days. They remember us from year to year, probably because I do buy a lot of vegetables and I do splash out on the most expensive ones. Actually artichokes, cherry tomatoes and bell peppers cost just a fraction of what they would where I normally live, and taste much better, so yes, I tend to stock up for the whole year. In summer the seller would always choose the sweetest yellow melon of the pile for me, and they never want to sell me watermelon because it is not good enough, yet. They’d also sell the tinies sweetest green figs, which we do eat to blissful collapse.
They are now expanding their choice, cautiously. This winter the latest arrivals were several: a new ‘ancient’ bread, naturally leavened and cooked on a wood fire (here I have posted a picture), probably the best bread I have ever tasted, although it is a bit mercurial (it tends to be thicker on rainy days); small ricotta forms, made that very day and sweet. I can never resist it and after buying a dozen, I even resolved to cook with one of them (instead of just eating it with a spoon, or more accurately, with fingers).
Another winter staple is rucola – wild, spicy and fresh. Paired with sweet cherry tomatoes, this pasta is a simple and quick one, but worth remembering for a ‘Presto Pasta Night’ in a weekday dinner. It tastes satisfying but it is reasonably guilt free (there are a lot of vegetables, so 80 grams of pasta will make an acceptable portion). Leftovers are a great item in a lunchbox as well.
Thanks to Claire of Chez Cayenne for hosting the event this week.
Pasta with ricotta, rocket and cherry tomatoes
Ingredients (makes three servings)
short pasta (fusilli, penne, rigatoni) 250 gr
ricotta (use mixed cow and sheep if you can find it) 150 gr
a big bunch of rocket
about 20 cherry tomatoes
good quality olive oil
Heat a big pot of water of the pasta, and when it is boiling, salt it and cook the pasta. Meanwhile, prepare a very large bowl – larger than what you think you’ll need – and put the ricotta into it. Add a bit of salt and pepper and cream it with a fork. Wash and chop the rocket very roughly, removing any tough stalks. Add the rocket to the ricotta. It will look like it is a lot but it will wilt with the pasta’s heat. Wash and quarter, or halve, the cherry tomatoes, and set aside.
Taste the pasta well before the packet’s cooking time. Take a little boiling water (scant half a cup) and stir it into the ricotta and rocket cream. When the pasta is quite al dente, drain it, and mix it immediately with the ricotta cream. Add in the cherry tomatoes, a bit of olive oil and some freshly ground pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning before serving.