A PASTA, FOR SPRING
an easy, luscious 20-minute dinner (starring ricotta!), and six other spring/summer winners
I’m popping in a little earlier this week, with an (easy) recipe. The rest of the week will be dedicated to a PORTUGAL DISPATCH and, there’s OOOOOH so many baked goods to share with you coming up, so I thought we should pause a moment for dinner. More precisely, for pasta.
Between now and September there will be lots of occasions. Mother’s Day, Memorial, Day, Juneteenth, birthdays, parades, Fourth of July, and so on.
But in the meantime, there’s dinner. Your people are hungry (one day they will learn to feed themselves, right?)
When the hungry call, and you’re short on time, pasta wins. There’s always mac and cheese (yes, my kids eat Annie’s from time to time, with a babysitter or when the husband is in charge), but you —or I— might want a lighter, more elegant way to get a creamy pasta fix, with tooth-soome noodles and greens to boot.
Here it is:
cook pasta. cook greens and garlic in oil. toss together with butter, pasta cooking water and fresh ricotta. sprinkle with red pepper flakes and flaky salt. serve, warm.
It’s soooo good, and easy. EASY.
If my son can see ricotta, it will get a hard pass, even though a lot of the foods he loves are made with ricotta (including lasagna, and these RICOTTA FRITTERS which he’d eat by the dozen if I could keep up).
I love ricotta because it’s a light, relatively lower fat cheese that adds a creamy factor to almost any evening meal—including this dish, which I make most often in spring. So even if my son skips this one (his loss!), the rest of us love it.
IT—the pasta— (top) stars Swiss chard (it could be kale, chicories, mustard greens…). For years I only made this dish with orecchiette, but I’m a sucker for sexy pasta shapes that hold sauce—so this time I used Lumaconi (snail shell pasta) from a fancy grocer.
Could you make this with long pasta? Sure, sure you can. Play with it.
Pop below to find the recipe, along with 6 other Spring-to-Summer-friendly pasta dinners to keep in your back pocket between occasions. That’s it for now—-the sun is shining longer now and it might be your lunch break, so get out there and enjoy it.
ORECCHIETTE (OR ANY SHORT PASTA) WITH RICOTTA AND SWISS CHARD
SERVES 4 // MAKES 6 CUPS
1 LARGE BUNCH SWISS CHARD
3/4 TO 1 POUND ORECCHIETTE, LUMACONI OR SIMILAR
2 TO 3 TABLESPOONS EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
3 (OR MORE!) CLOVES GARLIC, THINLY SLICED
HEARTY PINCH CRUSHED RED PEPPER FLAKES
2 TABLESPOONS BUTTER
2/3 CUP FRESH RICOTTA CHEESE (OR TO TASTE)
FLAKY SEA SALT AND FRESHLY CRACKED PEPPER
BRING A LARGE POT OF GENEROUSLY SALTED WATER TO A BOIL. SEPARATE CHARD STEMS FROM LEAVES AND CUT IN BITE-SIZED PIECES.
COOK THE PASTA ACCORDING TO THE PACKAGE DIRECTIONS, A TOUCH AL DENTE (ABOUT 1 MINUTES SHY OF INSTRUCTED TIME). DRAIN AND RESERVE ABOUT 1/4 OF THE PASTA COOKING LIQUID.
MEANWHILE, HEAT THE OLIVE OIL IN A LARGE SKILLET OVER MEDIUM-HIGH HEAT. ADD GARLIC AND CHARD STEMS; COOK 3 TO 5 MINUTES, UNTIL CRISP-TENDER. SEASON WITH SALT AND RED PEPPER FLAKES. ADD CHARD LEAVES TO THE STEMS AND CONTINUE COOKING TO WILT. SEASON WELL WITH SALT.
ADD CHARD AND STEMS, AND ANY RESIDUAL GARLIC AND OIL TO THE DRAINED PASTA, ALONG WITH BUTTER, RICOTTA AND UP TO 1/4 CUP RESERVED COOKING LIQUID. TASTE TO SEE THAT IT IS CREAMY AND EVENLY COATED AND RICHLY FLAVORED. SEASON WITH MORE SALT AND PEPPER TO TASTE. SERVE WARM.
FOR THE LOVE OF RICOTTA //
Like any time an ingredient will be star of the show, buy the best ricotta you can find for this dish. Homemade isn’t difficult to make (I have an Instant Pot recipe in my book, HERE)—but aim for anything creamy and luscious and slightly wet.
SIX MORE PASTA DINNERS FOR RIGHT NOW (OR, SOON)
LINGUINE WITH CHICKPEAS, BROCCOLI AND RICOTTA (above, paywall)
ONE PAN BRUSCHETTA SPAGHETTI (paywall)
Photos for this post* by Dane Tashima. Food + Prop Styling by Sarah Copeland. Ceramics by Lost Quarry + LAIL. *(Photo for Linguine with Chickpeas and Broccolini by Julia Gartland, styled by Barrett Washburn for The New York Times).