Recipe: Pasta with Greens and Ricotta

pasta greens ricotta

Y’all, I have been stupidly sick since last weekend. Among other things, I am so disappointed that the beautiful week of free time that would allow me to be productive turned into a week of convalescense. I still have a cough, but I’m hoping that things have turned far enough past the corner that sleep and breathing is a reasonable expectation for tonight. So, although that really isn’t an intro for this recipe, I can say that this is a very easy recipe to follow even when you’re feeling seriously under the weather. It also has good things in it — greens, garlic, olive oil — that I think nourish a body.

This recipe is from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, which was my staple cookbook during and immediately following college and grad school. It still contains many of my favorite recipes. As may be expected, I follow this (and any) recipe loosely, tonight using arugula and frozen spinach for the greens, cottage cheese for the ricotta and adding a bit of parmesan to the sause in addition to sprinkling it on top. I also used just 12 oz of pasta and since I didn’t really measure* my greens (or, lets be honest, any of the ingredients), I ended up with a decent amount of leftover sauce to throw in the freezer. This really tastes like the greens you use. It’s not a cheese sauce with some greens added to it. So please take that into consideration if you make it — this is not going to taste like spinach mac and cheese.

Pasta with Greens and Ricotta

Serves 6 – 8

  • 1 bunch watercress (about 1 cup chopped), stems removed
  • 1 bunch Swiss Chard, tough staks removed (about 4 cups chopped0
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • dash of salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 lb pasta (short and chunky works best here)
  • grated Parmesan or crumbled ricotta salata, chopped tomatoes, and/or toasted walnuts to serve over top (optional)
  1. Bring a large covered pot of water to a rapid boil.
  2. While the water heats, rinse the watercress and chard well, shake off any excess water, and chop corasely.
  3. Saute the garlic in the oil for a minute, until soft and golden, taking care not to scorch it. Add the damp greens and saute, stirring often, until they are wilted but still bright green. Sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and remove from the heat.
  4. In a blender, puree the cooked greens with the ricotta until smooth and evenly colored. Use pasta water to thin if necessary (I have used up to 3/4 cup). Add more salt and pepper to taste.
  5. When the water boils, stir in the pasta, cover, and return to a boil. Then uncover the pot and cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and immediately toss wiht the sauce in a warmed serving bowl.
  6. Top with cheese, tomatoes, and/or nuts.

According to the cookbook, the nutritional breakdown per 8 oz serving is:

313 calories, 12.2 grams protein, 7.5 grams fat, 49.3 grams carbohydrate, 200 mg sodium, 12 mg cholesterol

*I eyeball, and I’m fairly accurate, but it’s not an exact science.

 

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Sausage & Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

stuffed peppers

I had some peppers and mushrooms in the fridge that really needed to be used up, so I decided to cobble together some stuffed peppers. These were super yummy, so I am recording what I did for posterity.

Sausage & Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

serves 4 -6

Ingredients

  • 3 large green pepper, cut in half and partially steamed (I used the microwave)
    • reserve tops and chop for use in filling
  • 1 c. quinoa
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 med. onion, chopped
  • 8 oz. white mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 c. chopped green pepper (from tops)
  • 8 oz. sweet italian sausage, removed from casing
  • 1/4 c. chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2-3 cloves garlic (I used Penzey’s dried)
  • Italian seasonings to taste: red pepper flakes, dried basil, oregano, parsley
  • 1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
  • 8 oz. can of tomato sauce
    • I stirred in a little Worcestershire sauce, sugar, garlic & onion powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Rinse quinoa and add to a saucepan with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer until cooked through. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and onions. Saute until translucent. Add mushrooms and salt as desired. Allow mushrooms and onions to sweat a bit and wilt further. Stir in chopped green peppers, saute a few minutes longer then push to one side of the skillet.
  3. Add the sausage to the pan, breaking up with a spatula. Once crumbled to your desired consistency, stir in vegetables. Continue to saute until sausage is cooked through.
  4. Stir in sun-dried tomatoes and garlic. Allow to cook while you choose additional seasonings. Add to your taste and bloom for a minute or two. Turn off heat.
  5. Stir in cooked quinoa — I didn’t use the full amount, maybe 2/3 of the final amount. Once incorporated stir in Parmesan cheese. Set aside.
  6. Pour 2/3 of the can of tomato sauce into a 13 X 9 baking dish (you can spray or not). Add any seasonings you might want.
  7. Fill pre-steamed green pepper halves and nestle into baking dish. Top each pepper with remaining tomato sauce and about 1/2 tablespoon of Parmesan.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until hot throughout and peppers are tender. Enjoy!

We had a simple tomato and cucumber salad on the side.

NOTE: I had leftover filling, probably enough to fill another two pepper halves. Next time I make this I’ll be sure to have four peppers. This time I was just using what I had on hand, so I’m pleased that it mostly all evened out in the end!

 

Pasta w/Corn, Zucchini, & Tomatoes

corn, tomato and squash pasta

Last week I tried a new recipe from the Skinnytaste website: Summer Cavatelli w/Corn, Tomatoes, & Zucchini. I was on the fence about the use of sweet corn, but this was phenomenal! I will definitely be making this again. It worked up very quickly, too, so it will be a good weeknight meal once things get crazy this semester. Since this was just posted on that website, I am not going to rewrite it out here. But I will note where I made some changes, below.

  • I used pasta that I had on hand, rather than buying homemade cavatelli. Actually I used a random mixture of three different boxes that had a small amount left in each, so this was rather eclectic looking. I reduced the amount to 8oz, since I was using dried pasta, rather than the fresh called for in the recipe.
  • I chopped the zucchini in rather aggressive chunks rather than dicing it, and just used all of a medium zucchini I had on hand, rather than measuring out 1 1/4 cups.
  • I used frozen sweet corn instead of fresh.
  • And I rounded out my marinara (I didn’t have quite enough) with a blob of tomato paste, which is why I think my dish is so much redder than the original.

This was a really good dish to use up random leftovers and calls for items I tend to have on hand, so I can really see it becoming a staple pasta dish for us.

Spicy Roasted Carrots

broccoli cheddar casserole and spicy carrots

For my new recipe this week (made last week) I used a recipe in a recent issue of Cooking Light. Actually I used two — I made the Broccoli Cheddar Rice Cakes and Sweet & Spicy Carrots. Both of which I adapted to use what I had on hand. They were both really yummy, and I will make them again. The carrots especially were a tasty way to use a cheap vegetable as a side dish. Of course the original recipe called for snow peas, but I a) didn’t have any on hand and b) don’t love them enough to make a special trip for them. Although this week’s recipe is really the carrots, I have a few notes on the rice cakes, too.

  • As you can maybe tell from the photo, the rice cakes didn’t want to form into cakes, so I just made a casserole instead.
  • I used frozen broccoli, so didn’t cook it with the onions in chicken broth as the recipe suggests for those using raw broccoli. I omitted the chicken broth all together (perhaps contributing to the problem forming cakes).
  • I used leftover brown rice rather than the minute brown rice called for.
  • I didn’t have (and don’t especially care for) low fat cheese on hand, so used 2oz of regular sharp cheddar rather than the 3oz the recipe calls for.

Sweet & Spicy Carrots

very slightly adapted from Cooking Light

Ingredients

  • 1 lb carrots, sliced at an angle
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Slice carrots and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl combine oil, sugar, spices and seasonings. Stir to combine.
  4. Toss carrots in oil mixture until coated, then transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.
  5. Bake 15 – 18 minutes, stirring once half way through cooking time.

NOTES:

Use the longer roasting time if you prefer slightly caramelized veggies; that’s what I will do next time!

I think this is better if the oil mixture actually coats the carrots which is why I prefer mixing it up in a bowl rather than doing it all on the baking sheet as advised in the original recipe. I know that it saves dishes, but I feel like I spend more time trying to ensure everything gets coated when using a bowl is so fast.

This year I am joining The Frugal Girl in trying one new recipe each week. You can check them all out here. Did you make anything new this week?