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Filtering by Tag: ricotta salata

Pasta con Zucchine e Ricotta Salata

Rosetta

Here is  another recipe where you can put your zucchini to use. We made this pasta dish at the all-zucchini cooking class on Saturday.

You can prepare everything while the pasta cooks. The key ingredients are zucchini and a flurry of grated ricotta salata. I was lucky to have a nice ricotta affumicata that my parents brought back from Calabria, but either will work well with this dish. Even fresh ricotta will make this dish flavorful.

My aunt used to prepare this dish; the ricotta salata melts when it hits the pasta, and by adding a little hot water from the pasta pot, you can create an almost creamy sauce. Some people prefer to sauté the zucchini, but I think the fried zucchini have more flavor. And some would say peperoncini (hot peppers)  are optional, but not  in my house!

Slice the zucchini in 1/8 inch rounds:

Sprinkle them with  a teaspoon of salt and toss. Fry the zucchini slices in batches until golden on both sides.

Leave a couple of tablespoons of oil in the pan when you are done frying the zucchini slices and add the garlic, fried zucchini slices and chopped basil.  Cook for few minutes to infuse the flavors.

Drain the pasta and add it to the pot with the zucchini. Toss well and add the ricotta salata.  Add some pasta water to make a creamy sauce.

Pasta with Zucchini and Ricotta Salata

1-1/2 pounds zucchini, sliced into 1/8-inch-thick rounds

Kosher salt

Extra virgin olive oil for frying

1 pound spaghetti or bucatini

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or minced

1 or 2 small fresh green or red chilies, minced (optional)

1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil

1/2 cup finely grated ricotta salata cheese, plus more for garnish

Put the sliced zucchini in a bowl and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Toss to coat.

Heat 1/4 inch of oil in a frying pan over moderately high heat until it sizzles when you insert the end of a wooden skewer or chopstick (about 365ºF). Add the zucchini in batches and fry, turning with a fork, until lightly colored in spots. Transfer them as they are done to a plate.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente.

Just before the pasta is done, finish the sauce. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the frying oil and reduce the heat to moderately low. Add the garlic and chilies and cook briefly just to soften them; do not let them burn. Add the basil and zucchini, toss gently, and cook briefly just to infuse the zucchini with the seasonings.

Set aside 1 cup of pasta water, then drain the pasta and return it to the warm pot. Add the zucchini and the cheese and toss well, adding reserved water as needed to moisten the pasta and make a creamy sauce. Serve immediately, topping each portion with a little more grated cheese.

Serves 4 to 6

Copyright 2006, Rosetta Costantino. All rights reserved.

Involtini di melanzane ripieni di pasta (Eggplant rolls filled with pasta)

Rosetta

Here is the second recipe I promised you from my August cooking class menu, the one that uses eggplant from appetizer to dessert. This dish is a clever way to combine eggplant, pasta, and cheese in a beautiful presentation. It was supposed to be in my cookbook, but I already had too many recipes, so you're in luck. The recipe calls for frying the eggplant slices, which is how I had it in Calabria, but for the class I decided to grill them instead, and I've grown to like it better that way. You can also bake the slices, if you prefer. For this dish, I use large globe eggplant. Here is what the slices look like on the grill:

Once they are done you place on each eggplant slice some spaghetti that has been lightly tossed with tomato sauce, and then you top it with a piece of cheese:

Roll the eggplant slice around the pasta and cheese. You now officially have an involtino:

Then you finish with some more tomato sauce and grated cheese, such as ricotta affumicata (ricotta that has been smoked) or grated pecorino.   This is what the involtini look like in the baking dish:

And here they are, ready to eat. Yummy!

Here is the recipe:

INVOLTINI DI MELANZANE RIPIENI DI PASTA

Eggplant rolls filled with pasta, mozzarella and tomato sauce

In Calabria, caciocavallo cheese or provola is typically used in place of mozzarella, for their stronger flavor.  The eggplant can also be grilled as a light alternative to fried.

Serves 8

2 eggplants (1 pound each)

2 teaspoons kosher salt

Olive oil for frying

3 cups of fresh tomato sauce

1/2 pound of spaghetti

20 fresh basil leaves, chopped

8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into small pieces

1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino crotonese or ricotta salata

1. Slice the eggplants lengthwise into 3/8-inch thick slices. You should get 8 slices from each eggplant. Lightly sprinkle the slices with the salt on both sides and set aside. Heat enough olive oil in a 10-inch skillet to come 1/2 inch up the side of the pan.

2. Pat the eggplant slices on both sides with a paper towel, drying thoroughly.

3. When the oil is hot enough to sizzle, add a few slices of the eggplant and fry until soft and golden on both sides. With a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked eggplant to a plate lined with paper towels. Add the remaining eggplant to the skillet and fry as before. Set aside the cooked eggplant.

4. Prepare the tomato sauce using your favorite recipe.

5. Bring the water for the pasta to a boil, add salt to taste, and cook the pasta until al dente, slightly undercooked, as it will continue to cook in the oven.

6. When the pasta is ready, drain, and toss with half of the tomato sauce and half of chopped basil, stirring until the pasta is well coated.

7.  Preheat the oven to 400 F.

8.  Coat the bottom of a baking dish with a thin layer of tomato sauce. On a plate or a cutting board lay flat a slice of the cooked eggplant. Place a few strands of spaghetti on top of the eggplant slice; the strands should drape over the slice on both sides. Add a slice of cheese over the pasta and make a roll of the eggplant slice around the pasta and cheese. Place the roll in the baking dish, making sure each roll sits snugly next to its neighbor. When all the rolls are in the baking dish pour a little of the sauce over them and place another slice of cheese on top of each roll. Dot the top of each roll with a little more sauce, sprinkle the remaining basil, and dust with grated pecorino or grated ricotta salata.

9.  Bake for 20 minutes until the cheese melts and forms a light, golden crust.

10.  Serve carefully with a spatula so that each involtino doesn't unroll.

Copyright 2006, Rosetta Costantino. All rights reserved.