Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Pasta with Herbed Ricotta and Dried Cherries

In looking for a dish to showcase my ricotta cheese, I came across this simple pasta in Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express. I like the way he presents the recipes in this book - just a brief explanation, leaving the reader to come up with measurements, additions, or substitutions on their own.
The ricotta, the star of the dish in my opinion, is seasoned with fresh garden herbs. I went beyond his recipe and added chives, basil, and mint as well. You can never have too many garden herbs.. especially as the season is coming to a close here and I am feeling the need to use up what I have before the proverbial frost is on the pumpkin.

Pasta with Herbed Ricotta and Dried Cherries
adapted from Mark Bittman, Kitchen Express
for IHCC, September Potluck

Boil salted water for pasta and cook it; meanwhile, chop a handful of fresh parsley, some oregano, and a few sage leaves. Mix the herbs with a cup of fresh ricotta, and about a half cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese; season with kosher salt and black pepper. In a couple of tablespoons of butter, over low heat, cook up a couple of handfuls of dried cherries and a splash of red wine until the cherries soften a bit, about 5 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the cherry mixture and stir to coat, adding some of the reserved cooking water to make a sauce; taste and season with kosher salt and black pepper. Serve the pasta with a dollop of the herbed ricotta on top.

*I made a double batch of the herbed ricotta, and added some toasted Panko breadcrumbs for crunch.

Ricotta Cheese
from jam it, pickle it, cure it by Karen Solomon
yield: 1¼ c.

8 c. whole milk
1 tsp. citric acid
¼ c. water
2 Tbs. half & half
1 tsp. kosher salt

Pour milk into saucepan.  In small bowl, dissolve citric acid in water, then add it to the milk and set over medium heat.  Stir to distribute the acid evenly.  When temperature of milk reaches 190° F (~15-20 mins.), turn off the heat.  Do not stir or disturb the milk and let sit for ~10 mins. to allow curds and whey to separate.

Gently strain solids from the liquids in a fine mesh sieve.  Don't press or squeeze at all.  Once most of liquid has dripped out, move the curds to a bowl and toss with cream and salt.

Store, covered, in refrigerator for up to 1 week.
*In this case, I heated 4L whole milk in my slow cooker on high, with the lid on. When it got to 185°F, I added a big splash of bottled lemon juice and stirred. I let sit for 10 minutes for the curds to separate and then ladled into a cheese-cloth lined colander until drained to my liking. Then I put it into a bowl, seasoned with a little fine sea salt and refrigerated. Part of the cheese went to making Ricotta Salata, and the rest went into this dish.