Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Goodness from the Garden

One of the ongoing horrors of raising picky children is getting stuck in their ruts. At various times some or all of my children have been perfectly happy eating nothing but pasta and bottled marinara sauce topped with a blend of Parmesan and Romano cheeses. Apart from the burrito, mediocre pasta with red sauce has probably been served more often than any other dish in our house. It drives me crazy because I can make a fine tomato sauce. I even stocked my freezer with pints and pints of the good stuff at the end of last summer. But my kids turned up their nose at my summery goodness, making it clear that they much preferred the stuff in the jar.

I think may have reached a point where I can't look at another one of those jars again. But I still love pasta as much as ever. I came up with this recipe after being inspired by one published in this month's Bon Appetit magazine, but I made enough changes that I think it's safe to call it my own.

I was instantly drawn when I saw ricotta used. I had my first attempt at homemade ricotta in the 'fridge and this looked like a worthy showcase for my meager but tasty cheese. You don't have to make your own ricotta though if you are interested it could hardly be easier. Mine was a not-terribly-successful attempt at making ricotta using the whey leftover from cheesemaking. A lot of hoo ha for not much cheese, though it was tasty. There's a good, simple recipe at 101 Cookbooks that has nice clear directions and should have a much higher yield than the whey ricotta. It's on my list of things to try soon.

Back to the pasta--it's creamy and light, with lemon brightening the flavor of the sauteed veggies. I used what I had on hand in my back garden which meant only a few sugar snap peas, but my first zucchini of the year and a handful of tender young chard leaves. The combination was delicious and I'm sure you'll find your own combos which work just as well. My purple beans are coming along and will likely star when I make this dish next.
The added benefit of making this dish from what was in my garden (apart from not having to make a trip to the store) was that while I was poking around to see what was available, I got to nibble on delicious, perfectly ripe strawberries--and dessert before dinner isn't a bad thing at all!

Link to downloadable recipe

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