ricotta salata

Late summer pasta: fresh tomatoes and ricotta salata

I spend all week gathering what always feel like perfect ideas for my next blog post. Then Thursday rolls around and I stare at the keyboard feeling that nothing is quite right and more often than not I crash right through the self imposed Friday morning deadline. I don't know how real writers do it, really, I am garnering more respect for them every day. But I realized something this week. I am not yet a real writer, and though I would like to become one, sometimes I am not even sure that I am ready for the serious bloggers realm. But what I am, a passionate, somewhat skilled cook and one who's greatest joy is sharing knowledge around a stove, is what inspires me every day to inch just a little closer to my next goal.

So I am sharing what inspires me now, in the hope that it will keep me moving along.

And one more thing, I didn't take a picture of the finished dish, the picture I am including is of me cooking it, wearing a tomato red dress.

Pasta al pomodoro fresco e ricotta salata Pasta with fresh tomatoes and ricotta salata

for 6 people: 1 pound medium size tomatoesCooking in red 1 to 2 cloves garlic 1 handful basil 1 generous dusting dried oregano salt to taste 1 pound pasta of your choice olive oil pepper to taste 1/2 cup shredded ricotta salata

Dice the tomatoes quite small and place them in a colander over a bowl.

Smash the garlic into a paste with a pinch of salt using the side of your knife’s blade and add it to the tomatoes.

Pick and stack the basil leaves, roll them and cut them into very thin ribbons. Drop them over the tomatoes.

Add the dried oregano and a very generous amount of salt, 4 to 5 good sized pinches. Mix everything quite well and let drain to eliminate the water. The liquid that accumulates in the bowl should be periodically eliminated to the diced tomatoes do not sit in it.

This step can be done well in advance, even the day before.

While the pasta is cooking al dente in a generous pot of salted water, give the tomatoes a final drain by pressing them into the colander then transfer them to a serving bowl. Adjust salt and pepper and cover with olive oil.

Drain the pasta, reserving a cupful of cooking water, and drop it into the sauce when still very hot. Mix well, dust with the cheese and mix again. If the dish appears a little dry, add a bit of cooking water and some olive oil.

Serve right away.

NOTES:

  • Use sweet, fleshy tomatoes, preferably with thin skin. I find that dry farmed Early Girls work best, but have made it with other kinds to good success, including, in a pinch, good hothouse cluster tomatoes.
  • I enjoy this sauce with any kind of pasta, though I am partial to a good egg fettuccine.
  • The garlic can be minced and mixed into the sauce or just smashed and left whole to lend its fragrance to the sauce, then removed before serving, it all depends on one's taste for it.
  • Make some extra sauce without adding the oil. It will keep in the refrigerator for 5 to 6 days. You can serve it over toasted bread, along side some grilled chicken or even quickly sautè it in a skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil for a really great tomato sauce.
  • For a special occasion, use handmade pasta, like the spaghetti I shared earlier this month.

Feeding the Revolution

Making cappuccino pork tenderloin with Valeria, Alexandra, Antonella and Barbara Didn't make the cut off age to march for women's rights and my last name put me squarely, though not ideologically, on the wrong side of the fence of labor movements. But finally my time has come to join the revolution. The great Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Day.

Le Forchette Tricolori, a group of lively Italian women residing in the Bay Area who love to cook and be together and of which I am lucky to be one, are taking over the Italian Consulate (thank you Consul General Mauro Battocchi) and cooking up a storm for 50 lucky guests. You can find more details here.

The event's proceeds will be devolved to Food Revolution in support of Mr.Oliver's continuing efforts to "keep cooking skills alive". By the way, if you want to more know about the scope of the initiative, listen to Jamie's own words about Food Revolution Day.

 

Menu

 

 

This is the menu and the Forchettine (as we like to call ourselves), clad in aprons and armed with spoons, will "cook it, share it, live it" to change the world one forkful of great Italian food at a time.

 

 

Here is a sneak preview of  some of the deliciousness we will be offering. Tune in next week for more recipes and some gossip on the outcome of the evening.

Thank you to Jamie Oliver for the inspiration he gives daily to so many, I am proud to be part of your Revolution.

 

Sangria di Aperol e prosecco con ciliegie e gelsi~ Sparkling sangria with Aperol, cherries and mulberries

The drink that will set the lively mood of our Food Revolution

for 1 bottle of prosecco: 1/2 bunch mint1 cup cherries 2 ripe peaches 1 cup mulberries juice of 1 Meyer lemon 1/4 cup raw sugar 1/2 cup dry rum or other dry hard liquor 1 cup Aperol

Pick the leaves off the mint sprigs, stack them and roll them along the longer side. Cut them in very skinny ribbons with a very sharp knife.

Stone the cherries and peaches. Slice the peaches and combine them in a bowl with the mint, mulberries, lemon juice and sugar. Muddle using a pestle or the back of a wooden spoon, ensuring the sugar dissolves.

Cover with the rum and Aperol, mix well and let stand in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours. This step can be done the previous evening.

Right before serving, add a few cubes of ice and slowly pour in the prosecco. Stir gently and serve.

NOTES:

  • Aperol, a light alcohol drink reminiscent of Campari can be substituted with Campari if unavailable. Remember to adjust sugar and lemon juice to balance the extra bitterness
  • Mulberries are not always easy to find. Though they have been all over farmers' markets here in NorCal, should they not be available where you are, swap them for blackberries

 

Bruschette di piselli alla menta ed aglietto con profumo di limone e ricotta salata Mint scented English peas and green garlic bruschetta with Meyer lemon and ricotta salata

for 6 people 2 pounds unshelled shelling, English or snap peas 1 or 2 green garlic stalks. 1 Meyer lemon 12 to 14 mint leaves 12 slices of bread extra virgin olive oil salt and pepper to taste 1/2 cup shredded ricotta salata

Shell the peas. Clean the garlic stalks. Zest the lemon and cut the naked fruit in wedges. Stack and roll half the mint along the longer side and slice into very thin ribbons. Mix the mint and zest.

Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil and drop the peas, all the green garlic except for 1 small piece and the remaining mint leaves in it. Cook until the peas are quite tender but still bright green, about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, brush the bread with olive oil and toast until crunchy outside but still soft in the middle. When ready, rub lightly with the saved garlic while still hot. Keep warm.

Drain the peas, mint and green garlic and blend into a smooth spread with a bit of olive oil. Adjust salt and pepper.

Spread over the toasted bread. Dust with the ricotta salata. Top with the mint and zest and finish by squeezing a few drops of lemon juice on each bruschetta.

 

Pescespada alla livornese Livorno style swordfish

This recipes appeared last month on this very blog. Click here for it.