March 12, 2010

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.


  1. I love that type of pasta. And I will admit, I never knew it was called gemelli before this post. But I did know that it is delcious smothered in cheese sauce. And ricotta sauce counts as cheese!

  2. My daughter is convinced that shaped pasta tastes better than thin spaghetti!

    I love LaCucina magazine (not to mention the 12+ other food magazines I get!). My MIL got it for me for my birthday last year - the recipes I've made have always turned out beautifully!

  3. Looks delicious! Will have to go look for that type of pasta. Not sure I've seen it before....

  4. So what pasta would you choose, Amuse? The sauce sounds lovely. :-)

  5. This looks lovely! I, too, wish it were spring, but eating spring-like foods really does help, doesn't it? I'm very picky about my pasta shape and sauce combos too, although I think this sounds just perfect, and the gemelli looks awesome in your pictures.

  6. It looks and sounds delicious, as always. I have not seen gemelli before, will keep an eye out for it now.

  7. sounds tasty and comforting :)
    have you ever tried making your own ricotta??

  8. Such a wonderful pasta dish! So simple and tasty.

  9. Another lovely pasta dish accompanied by a wonderful narration.
    I brought from Greece some capers that have been waiting to be used for quite some time now.
    Any "Blue Door" coming soon?

  10. I just love how you put a dish together; and your descriptions always make my mouth water. I came across a very simple recipe for making ricotta. I must try it soon.

  11. Tart - Not quite sure. Still mulling it over. :)

    M. - We tried making ricotta once. It turned out a little dry. Have been meaning to try again.

    Magda - I've got some Blue Door in the works...

  12. Sweet greetings from Frog Hollow Farm. Love your description of planning and preparing your dinner. Just wonderful...

  13. A tasty pasta dish!! I also love fresh ricotta!


  14. Tracy, this looks like ultimate comfort food. I love how you pull these meals together on the fly.

  15. I love ricotta and pasta together, and I've never thought to use thyme--I will have to give it a try when I want a light-but-cheesy dish this spring and summer.


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