Ricotta, Capers and Thyme
Three possibilities for Thursday supper: risotto with lemon, ricotta and thyme; pasta with ricotta, capers and thyme, or; pasta with ricotta and peas.
My email was silent. Roberto must be in a meeting. I fled the office at seven minutes to five with ricotta on my mind.
Once home and with apron adorned I scanned the pantry. Not enough Arborio for risotto. My eyes searched for pasta inspiration and found it with a lonely box of Gemelli. Gemelli means "twins" in Italian.
My decision was finalized, gemelli with ricotta, capers and thyme it would be.
With ample ricotta at our disposal I'd like to think that risotto with lemon, ricotta and thyme might be supper on Saturday, followed by veal scallopini. A girl can dream.
La Cucina Italia's recipe for pasta con ricotta, capperi e timo was the inspiration, but I new that I'd gain more brownie points from Roberto if I used their preparation simply as a starting point. So, with that in mind, I scanned the recipe and set out to make it my own.
I started prepping the mise.
The equation was simple. Four tiny espresso mug saucers would serve to be my standard of measure. One garlic clove and half a shallot were chopped and placed into the well of saucer number 1. Saucer number two's well was filled with a single layer of capers. Saucer numbers three and four would hold the thyme and parsley. I doled out a third of a cup of fresh ricotta (making sure to level it with the back of a butter knife—anal, I know). The only non-measured items, extra virgin olive oil and crushed red pepper (unless you want to call a heavy hand a standard of measure).
Roberto was home, battered and inconsolable from work and traffic.
"Can I get things going?" I yelled up the stairs.
"Yeah!" He yelled back. His voice ricocheting from the bedroom down the stairs to my waiting ears.
I salted the water and dropped the pasta. It would need a good 12 minutes. Olive oil, garlic, shallot and crushed red pepper hit the aluminum pan, one after the other in this march to the finish. From there, steady streams of ladled pasta water loosened things. Capers were dropped into the pool of fighting oil and water. Parsley and thyme. Shakes, stirs, the whirl with the back of a spoon.
I tasted what was waiting in the pan, added salt. I tasted the pasta water, added salt (a quirky practice I've installed to judge salt when the pasta isn't yet ready for a taste).
I waited. I stirred. I waited some more.
The cooked pasta was pulled from the pot using a strainer. Everything was given a good stir before the ricotta was added. It dissolved with ease.
"Can you crack some pepper for me." I asked.
Roberto cracked some pepper into the pan.
The remainder of parsley was dumped in which was then followed by a final quick stir. I gently spooned heaping piles into bowls while Roberto waited patiently at the table.
"This turned out better than I thought, although I don't think gemelli is exactly the right shape for this sauce." I said.
Gemelli needs something as thick as it. A heavy something or other that will cling to it's buxom toothiness, yet not render it dry.
With that said, the dish was still rather pleasant, fresh and luxurious for a Thursday. Not at all heavy, it's just what Spring might order...if it were here.