Hey. How’s it going? I feel like I’ve been away from you for awhile. Which isn’t true of course, I was just here last Saturday going on and on about the bliss that is blackberry mojitos. So, why do I feel like I miss you? Because last Saturday was also the day my blessed camera-to-computer-cord finally returned to me. And then it was a day of playing catching up. And a day of blackberry mojitos. But now, blackberry mojitos all gone (ssiigghh.....), it’s time to get back into the rhythm of things. With sensible things, like crisp pancetta, fresh ricotta and early summer time dinner recipes.
So, what have I missed telling you? The big news it, they built a new grocery store near me. It’s a Valli Produce. Totally ok if you have never heard of them, it’s an Illinois thing. There’s an older one near my work, older being the operative word. There’s an even older one near Ben, which we avoid unless necessary, aka the need for fresh mozzarella arises. But this new one? It’s kinda shiny and big and well-lit. And not only does it have fresh mozzarella, it also has fresh ricotta, fresh feta and fresh pasta.
So, following suit from CL’s April issue, I bought some fresh pasta. I doctored up my fresh ricotta with lemon and pepper. Then I cooked up some bell peppers and shallots and spinach. I toasted pecans and crisped up leftover pancetta. Then I got a little crazy. Pasta and vegetables were tumbled into ricotta. It got creamy and thick and fabulous. On top, the crumbled, crisp bits of cured pork deliciousness helped the toasted pecans bring some real crunch. It was bright and textured and fabulous. And all that? It took less then 15 minutes. That’s less time then it took to write this post. And let’s face it, there is sun outside. Let’s not waste it.
Lemony Ricotta Fettuccine
Adapted from CL's April 2012 issue
The best part is that you don’t need a recipe. Of course, I’m still going to give you one, but you don’t need it. Take trip through the farmer’s market or produce section. If asparagus and spring onions are looking like their normal gorgeous selves, grab them and run with it. If it goes with cheese and lemon, you’re good to go. By the way, crisp pancetta goes with everything basically, so you’re safe there...
9 oz. ricotta cheese
Zest & juice of 1 lemon
3/4 tsp. salt, divided
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp. EV olive oil, divided
1 bell pepper (orange or red), diced
1 shallot, diced
1/3 c. pecans
0.75-1 oz. Pancetta, chopped
4 garlic cloves, diced
3 c. baby spinach
Cook pasta. Reserve a coffee cup-full of pasta water before draining pasta.
Combine lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper with ricotta cheese. Mix well.
In large skillet, add pecans. Toast for 3-5 minutes until fragrant. Remove and roughly chop, set aside. In same skillet, crisp up Pancetta. Remove and let drain on paper towel.
In same skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium high heat. Add bell pepper and shallot. Saute about 2 minutes, until bell peppers are soft. Add garlic and remaining salt, continue to saute 1-2 minutes longer. Stir in remaining olive oil and lemon juice. Add cooked pasta and spinach, tossing so veggies and garlic are evenly distributed. Add pasta water to desired consistency and cook until spinach wilts, about 1 minute. (I only added a little less than 1/2 cup).
Top with ricotta mixture and chopped pecans and Pancetta. If you have leftovers, leave off ricotta, pecans and Pancetta. Heat pasta then add toppings.