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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Vegetarian White Pasta

Simple and even more delicious the next day!

Increasingly, more of the wonderful people that have been introduced into our lives are vegetarian. We could be vegetarian too, if it weren't for beef.... or lobster... but catfish, we could definitely give up catfish. :)

In all seriousness though, it's important to have a variety of recipes that work for any group of friends. This recipe is delicious and filling and pleases both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. The best part is that it's so easy, you can easy throw it together during your dinner party and people can add or omit ingredients as it suits them. The exact measurement for any of the ingredients isn't important.

If you have friends that aren't vegetarian, you could serve some sliced Italian sausage on the side for them to add to their pasta.

This particular recipe has the added benefit of tasting far better the second day. We make lots of it and have it for lunch for several days.

  • 1 lb box of pasta
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pint sliced mushrooms
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup white whine
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp dill weed
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • grated zest of one lemon plus juice
  • 3 bags of baby spinach
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. In a pot large enough to hold the pasta when covered with an inch of water, add 1 rounded tablespoon of salt and bring to a boil. Boil for exactly 4 minutes, then drain. Don't rinse or add any butter. (This will give you perfect al dente pasta)
  2. Mix the heavy cream, ricotta cheese, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper well, set aside. (This is important to prevent the ricotta from curdling by the lemon juice).
  3. Sear the mushrooms until softened. Remove from the pan.
  4. Reduce the heat and sear the onions until soft and slightly browned. Add the lemon juice and zest and cook until most liquid is evaporated.
  5. Add 1/2 cup white wine and cook until almost all evaporated.
  6. Add the nutmeg, dill weed, cayenne, salt and minced garlic and cook for no more than a minute, then remove from heat. Stir in the ricotta/cream mixture.
  7. As soon as the pasta is al dente, scoop out 1 cup of the water for use later, then drop all 3 bags of spinach into the pasta water for 30 seconds. Drain the pasta and spinach, then return to the pot.
  8. Add all remaining ingredients (except Parmesan) to pot and stir well. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes for the juices to be absorbed by the pasta. Add just enough of the reserved pasta water to get a creamy sauce, then stir in the 1 cup of Parmesan cheese. (Sometimes the spinach wants to clump together. The easiest way to separate it is to stir with a fork.)
  9. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese on top if desired.

Don't be tempted to throw it all in the pan at once like we did this time,
nothing will properly brown and there'll be a lot of liquid left over.

If you don't mix the cream with the ricotta separately,
the lemon juice will cause the ricotta to separate.

Simple and even more delicious the next day!

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