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!

 

Creamed Cucumbers

creamed cucumbers

This is a simple summer side dish that I grew up eating. It would be a stretch to call this a recipe, but I did take the time to measure things today when I made this. I add dill to my version, but my mom and her family usually leave it plain. It’s refreshing and lovely on a hot day! You can use any kind of cucumber, I just usually have the mini ones on hand.

Creamed Cucumbers

Serves 2 or 3

  • 3 mini cucumbers, sliced or chopped as preferred — about 1.5 cups
  • 2 T. sour cream
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 T. white vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp. dried dill (optional)
  • pinch of salt
  1. Prepare cucumbers and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the sour cream, sugar, vinegar, dill and salt.
  3. Add cucumbers and toss to combine.

You can serve immediately or refrigerate for a bit to let the flavors mingle. If you do this, I’d get them cucumbers out a bit before dinner so they aren’t so bitingly cold. Also, they’re best if eaten within a day which is why small batches work well here.

 

Caesar Salad Dressing

file-feb-20-11-30-32-am

This is such a simple recipe for a really, really good Caesar dressing. I’ve always found the original recipe a bit fiddly and…I’m not really into the raw egg and anchovy paste thing necessarily. I like it when others make it, but not enough to want to do it myself. So when my sister shared with me this easy recipe, I was sold. Actually she made us chicken Caesar salads when I was visiting in December, the dressing was awesome and then she told me that she made it! So I had to have the recipe. I am not sure where the original is from, and I think she’s made a few adaptations to it as well.

This isn’t a dressing you can shake in a jar, because of the mayo and Parmesan, but it still whips up very quickly and tastes very much like the creamy Caesar dressings you find in restaurants.

Creamy Caesar Salad Dressing 

Makes about 1 cup

  • 1/4 c. mayonnaise
  • 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 1 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 T. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  1. In a bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, Parmesan, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and garlic.
  2. When thoroughly combined, slowly whisk in olive oil until incorporated.

Notes: Freshly ground pepper is a good addition as well. I don’t really measure, just eyeball it, so if this is you, keep an eye on the oil as you add it as it can thin out the dressing pretty quickly. I wanted something reasonably pour-able, but you might like a thicker dressing. Just be aware. 🙂