The foods: Ricotta pasta, ricotta muffins
Several lunches of honeyed, herbed, salted and oiled fresh ricotta on toast later, we still had plenty left over, so I turned for inspiration to a book E had brought home from the library that same week: Food Network Favorites: Recipes from Our All-Star Chefs.
I looked at the cover, remembered that Giada De Laurentiis likes ricotta (she also likes to pronounce it in an authentically Italian way, as it’s done here), and turned to her chapter in the book. There I found two enticing ricotta-based recipes: one for stuffed pasta, one for a muffin/biscuit.
The Pasta Shells with Arrabiata Sauce recipe calls for jumbo dried pasta shells to be stuffed with a ricotta, egg and Parmesan cheese mixture enlivened with chopped mint, basil and parsley. It is then baked in a spicy marinara sauce mixed with cooked pancetta or bacon (I used bacon) and topped with mozzarella cheese. The result was rich, light (as light as something containing that much cheese can be) and luscious, to use a Food Network chef-type word.
I was dubious when the recipe promised 8-10 servings using only 36 jumbo pasta shells, but 3-4 stuffed shells were indeed enough for a dinner serving, to be paired with a green salad or some roasted root vegetables on the side.
Also light – and awesomely delectable – were the lemony, cakey, muffinish biscuits Giada calls Nonna’s Lemon Ricotta Biscuits.
Warm from the oven, or warmed up from room temperature a day later, these lemon-scented cakes were just right in texture – neither too sweet nor too dense – and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. I will make them again. In fact, I might have to buy more fresh ricotta just to make these muffins. Which wouldn’t be a bad thing at all.