Last Monday, Dave’s mum picked me up to take me to the International Cheese Company on a little residential street in the Junction. We were buying fresh, made-in-the-building ricotta – the kind that comes in tubs, steaming hot, sealed in a clear plastic bag. I’d never seen that before! I was excited and bought two tubs. Poor Dave. Now I have 8 cups of cheese to cook through. Prepare yourselves for a ricotta theme.
Part of my bulk purchase was inspired by one of Gangivecchio‘s cookbooks, which is structured around the recreation of traditional Sicilian cooking with the food available in North American grocery stores. The mother-daughter authors lament the watery nature of our commercially processed ricotta, and recommend a 2-day pressing process to drain the cheese before using it in their recipes. I trust their judgment – my Dad and I stayed at Gangivecchio for two nights four years ago, and I’ve never eaten so well before or since – but I’m probably never going to plan that far ahead. Instead, I tried my luck with the International Cheese Company’s ricotta and one of Gangivechhio’s recipes for pasta sauce.
This dish is quick to put together and, for those of you who make your tomato sauce in bulk, is a great way to use up leftovers while turning them into something new. Eli and I ate it on Friday with Parmesan cheese and torn-up slices of prosciutto, and, great little brother that he is, he did all the dishes.
Pasta with Ricotta, Mint & Thyme
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tbsp butter
4 whole garlic cloves, peeled
2 cups ricotta
3/4 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
salt & pepper
1 pound of dried pasta
Parmesan cheese & prosciutto to serve
1. In a large soup pot, bring 4 quarts (16 cups) of water to a rolling boil.
2. In the meantime, use a large frying pan to heat the olive oil, butter & garlic cloves over low heat. Stir often until the garlic begins to golden; then discard the cloves and add the ricotta, stirring to combine. Add tomato sauce, mint & thyme, and season to taste with salt & pepper. Stirring occasionally, allow the sauce to simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Add 1 1/5 tbsp of salt to the boiling water; stir. Add pasta and cook, stirring often, until just tender. Drain and turn the pasta out into a large serving bowl. Pour 1 cup of ricotta sauce over the pasta and toss to coat. Add remaining sauce; toss. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese & chopped prosciutto.