RECIPE: Fusilli Spinach and Broccolini in Creamy Ricotta Sauce

We like our Cook's Illustrated, a lot. And we noticed a savory recipe on how to make a ricotta pasta that is creamy v.s. grainy that we decided to try last weekend. It's actually not that complicated. It was very light and fresh with a zing of lemon and fresh greens. We switched up the spinach to include broccolini. We used Gluten Free noodles (so my daughter didn't have tummy issues) and we added a little bit of chicken bouillon to deepen the flavor a little. The key to creamy versus grainy? Whipping some ricotta with olive oil to dollop on top when serving and adding cream to the ricotta when making the sauce. The results were a big thumbs up around the dinner table. 

Fusilli Spinach and Broccolini with Creamy Ricotta Sauce
11 oz. of whole milk ricotta cheese 
3 tablespoons of olive oil 
salt and ground pepper 
1 pound fusilli 
8 ounces of baby spinach, chopped coarse 
8 ounces of broccolini, rinsed, trimmed and chopped into 1-2 inch chunks
4 garlic cloves, finely minced 
1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg 
1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper 
1/2 teaspoon of "Better than Bouillon" chicken broth base 
1/4 cup heavy cream 
1 teaspoon of fresh grated lemon zest 
2 teaspoons of lemon juice 
1 ounce of grated Parmesan cheese plus extra for serving i

In a small bowl whisk 1 cup ricotta with a tablespoon of olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper and a teaspoon of salt until smooth and creamy. Set this aside until serving.

Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions with a tablespoon of salt, stirring often. Usually pasta takes about nine minutes or so. Halfway through the cooking time (around five minutes) throw in the broccolini to get to tender in the hot water and cook for another 3 1/2 minutes. The last 30 seconds or so add the chopped baby spinach. They just need to be blanched for 30 to 40 seconds. At this point everything should be ready. Reserve half a cup of cooking water and drain the whole pot. Keep the pasta and greens warm until ready to add to the sauce.

In a large sauté pan heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the garlic. As the garlic starts to brown add the nutmeg and cayenne. Then take off the heat, whisk in 1/3 cup of ricotta, the 1/4 cup cream, the bouillon base, the lemon zest and the juice until smooth. Now add the pasta to the ricotta cream mixture and toss to combine them. Add the Parmesan and let the pasta rest for 2 to 4 minutes. The starch will thicken up the sauce, but if it becomes too thick use the cooking water a little bit to loosen it up. If you like it thicker, skip the water. Spoon the pasta into platters and dollop and nice serving of the ricotta on top. Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper and serve with some extra Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!



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