Earlier today I came across Food Blogga’s Penne with Fresh Ricotta and Baby Heirloom Tomatoes, which is a beautiful take on a classic combination (just go look at her photographs – absolutely killer), and there was no question what I was having for dinner tonight. Food Blogga (aka Susan) had these amazing baby heirloom tomatoes, but I was stuck with something a lot less appealing — tomato envy. However, I had some grape tomatoes (poor chaps, buck up, it’s hard to compete with the fashion models) and had picked up some fresh sweet corn. Here’s my riff:
1/2 lb fusilli
1 cup grape tomatoes
1 ear, very fresh sweet corn
1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup of ricotta cheese
1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp pine nuts
handful of fresh parsley, chopped
handful of fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper
Halve the tomatoes and combine in a bowl with the lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, basil, and some grindings of salt and pepper. I was in a hurry so I microwaved the corn in the husk for 2 1/2 minutes, let it cool for a few, then cut the kernals from the ear and mixed into the bowl.
Heat a small saute pan (ideally non-stick) over medium heat and toast the pine nuts for a couple of minutes, periodically shaking the pan to roll the nuts.
Boil the fusilli until al dente (with dried pasta, about 10 minutes). When done, reserve a cup of the cooking liquid. Drain the pasta and return to the pot, then mix in the ricotta cheese and about 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid until the pasta is well coated. Stir in most of the grated parmesan.
Note 1: The Kitchn writes of an interesting approach where the ricotta is warmed in a bowl over the boiling pasta. Note 2. 101 Cookbooks has a post on making your own ricotta (mine was store bought whole milk ricotta).
Add the herbs and vegetables, as well as the pine nuts, and lightly toss. Taste and if you feel that the texture is a little dry, add a little more of the reserved cooking liquid or squeeze some fresh lemon juice and lightly toss again.
Sprinkle the remaining parmesan cheese on top when serving. I think this dish goes really nicely with a Sancerre or an Australian or New Zealand Sauvingon Blanc (the Chilean Sauv’s are improving as well).