Tag Archives: ricotta

Recipe: Spaghetti with Ricotta and Pecorino Romano

3 Mar

Sometimes, you need comfort food. While home today with a very sore throat and not much food in the fridge, I wondered what to make for lunch. It needed to be soft. It needed to make me feel better. It needed to be made from the few items I could scrounge up, and it needed to be prepared quickly. There was only one possibility: Spaghetti with Ricotta and Pecorino Romano, a double dose of sheep-milk heaven — and ready in less than 15 minutes. Perfect.

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Spaghetti with Ricotta and Pecorino Romano

This is a free-form recipe; you can adjust any of the ingredients to suit your tastes. The quantities below are for one hungry pasta lover, but this dish could serve two people if part of a multi-course meal.

  • 113 gr./ ¼ lb. spaghetti (or fettucine, tonnarelli, or other pasta)
  • 1 tbsp. /14 gr. butter, cut into small pieces
  • ¼-1/3  c. grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • fresh, coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
  • 65 gr./ 2 ¼ oz. sheep’s-milk ricotta, crumbled or cut into small pieces (* use the best, freshest ricotta you can find)

Preparation

  1. Start boiling lightly salted water in a generously sized pot. When the water comes to a boil, add the spaghetti and cook just until al dente—often that’s about 1 minute less than indicated on the package.
  2. Meanwhile, place the pieces of butter in an unheated skillet or large bowl next to the pasta pot. Add the Pecorino Romano cheese,  grind black pepper over  top (to your liking), and sprinkle 2 tbsp. cooking water around the sides of the skillet or bowl.
  3. When the spaghetti is done, quickly scoop it out of its cooking water with a pasta ladle and drop it into the skillet or bowl. Don’t shake off all the cooking water; it is an essential ingredient. Stir and swirl the spaghetti vigorously to melt the butter, the Pecorino Romano cheese, and the cooking water into a light sauce. Add more cooking water if the pasta appears too dry.
  4. Check the seasonings (adding salt and more ground  pepper if needed), gently fold in the ricotta, and serve immediately, with additional grated Pecorino Romano on the side.

Recipe: Coffee Ricotta Mousse with Gianduia (Chocolate Hazelnut Spread)

19 Feb

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Since moving to Italy, I have become obsessed with fresh, soft ricotta. Ricotta is made from the whey left over from making other cheese (so, the second cooking–and hence the name ricotta, which means twice cooked). It can be made from cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, goat’s milk, or buffalo’s milk. Cow’s milk ricotta is more common, but I love the taste and texture of sheep’s milk ricotta (ricotta di pecora), which has a very high fat content and is a bit softer than the cow milk version.

Cow's milk ricotta  Sheep milk ricotta
Despite this slight preference, I have yet to meet a ricotta I do not like. I love it in pastas and in any savory incarnation–but I really, really love it sweet: in the ricotta cakes here in Rome, in Sicilian cannoli, in the Neopolitan sfogliatelle…the list goes on. Basically, I love sweet ricotta here, there, and everywhere. So for the past few weeks, I’ve been experimenting with making a ricotta dessert at home: mousse. It has been tough work.

This version is currently my husband’s favorite: coffee-flavored with ripples of gianduia, a dark chocolate-hazelnut spread that is a sleek, grown-up version of Nutella. The recipe is for two servings (based on 1/2 c. ricotta per person)–and can easily be multiplied. It yields a subtly flavored mousse that is not overly sweet, but the ingredients can easily be adjusted to your taste. Note: delicious as this is, it has one other thing going for it–it is a very quick dessert that can be made ahead and put in the refrigerator until later.

Coffee Ricotta Mousse with Gianduia
Two servings

Mousse
1 tsp. instant espresso powder or instant coffee granules
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. fresh, soft ricotta (preferably sheep’s milk ricotta–but use whatever is the best ricotta you can find)
2 rounded tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. whole milk

Filling
2 heaping tbsp. gianduia (chocolate-hazelnut spread)

Garnish
2 or more whole hazelnuts
chocolate-coated cookie sticks

Pernigotti  Mikado
Preparation
1. Dissolve the instant espresso powder (or instant coffee granules) in the vanilla.
2. Place the remaining mousse ingredients in a bowl and mash with a fork until soft and mousse-like; add the coffee/vanilla mixture and whisk to combine, eliminating as many lumps as possible.
3. Leave with a few lumps for a more rustic mousse, or, for a finer texture, use an electric whisk (such as a whisk attachment on an immersion blender) or a hand mixer and whisk until velvety smooth.
4. Place 2 heaping tbsp. mousse in the bottom of each mousse cup, dot with about 1 heaping tsp. gianduia, and swirl slightly. Repeat, for three layers total, using up all remaining ingredients in the final layer.
5. If preparing in advance, cover each mousse cup with aluminum foil and refrigerate.
6. Just before serving, garnish each mousse with a whole hazelnut and chocolate-coated cookie stick.

Mousse1
mousse2

Recipe: Lasagna Roll-Ups with Spinach and Ricotta

8 Dec

Sometimes, you want something fairly simple for dinner, but still want it to have a little flair. This dish meets that need. It is a different take on an old favorite: lasagna. Instead of layering the lasagna, you roll it up. It is fun to make, and a pleasure to eat.

Lasagna Roll-Ups © G. Stansbury

Lasagna Roll-Ups with Spinach and Ricotta
Makes 10-12
[Updated  Dec. 9, 2012]

15 pieces lasagna from a 1-lb. box
16 oz. ricotta cheese
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (10-oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
1 egg, lightly beaten
1.5 c. shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 c. grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
3/4 tsp. salt
freshly grated pepper to taste

pasta sauce of your preference (at least 24 oz./4 c. — may need more)

Preparation
1. Cook lasagna al dente in large pot of boiling water according to directions on package. Drain, and rinse with cold water to cool.
2. While lasagna is cooking, combine ricotta, garlic, spinach, egg, 1/2 c. mozzarella, Pecorino Romano/Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper. Mix well.
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray, then pour about 2 c. pasta sauce into pan, spreading evenly. Add more sauce as needed to ensure there is a healthy layer of sauce in bottom of pan.
4.  Lay out a lasagna noodle and spoon about 1/3 c. filling in an even layer down the entire noodle (you can also spread the filling on the noodle with very clean fingers). Roll the lasagna noodle up as tightly as possible, and nestle into sauce in pan. Repeat with remaining noodles–you will end up with between 10-12 roll-ups  (the extra noodles are back-ups in case of any breaks or tears). Pour remaining sauce over and in between roll-ups.
5. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake for about 30 minutes, or until bubbly. Remove aluminum foil and sprinkle remaining 1 c. mozzarella over the roll-ups. Broil until golden, and serve immediately.