Monday, November 5, 2012

Spaghetti with Broccoli, Walnuts & Ricotta

I hate when a recipe calls for an ingredient I don't normally keep around the house, in this instance ricotta, and I only need half of the package to make the dish. When its something like dairy its particularly hard because the window of time you have to find a use for the rest of it is quite brief. This is constantly happening to me with cream. Most the time I just end up using the left over cup of cream in my coffee that week otherwise I have a not so pleasant surprise the next time I clean out my fridge. Why am I telling you that there may or may not be a container of spoiled cream in my fridge right now? It's because this situation led to the recipe that follows.

Earlier in the week I had made calzones and greatly overestimated the amount of ricotta I would need for the project. I could count the number of ricotta recipes I've made in the last year on one hand so its not like I have a selection of recipes squirrelled away to use my leftovers for. We don't even use ricotta in our lasagna! I also happened to have a friend coming to visit who is vegetarian so I decided to flip through a book I'm rather fond of, Market Vegetarian: Easy Organic Recipes for Every Occasion by Ross Dobson, for some inspiration.

There are several things I love about Market Vegetarian. First of all, it has a full color photo of each of the dishes. Second, it was written by a non-vegetarian and I think his version of vegetarian meals speaks to my carnivorous soul. I have found his recipes to have a richness to them that leaves my tummy feeling full and satisfied, not asking where's the meat? If you are the type who can't go a meal without your favorite animal bits, many of his recipes are also very easy to modify or re-purpose as a side dish. Third, his serving sizes are accurate. If it says it will feed four, it will leave four people feeling nice and full. I do generally add a little more veggies than he calls for because I like my ratio of carbs to veggies to be higher, but that's just my personal taste. You could follow his recipes as is and still do well. Lastly, I really love that this book was given to me as a gift from a friend who just picked it out because they thought I'd like it. People rarely attempt to buy me anything unless I've already approved it by putting it on my Amazon list. Apparently my tastes are hard to predict, but this friend tried and definitely succeeded!

The only things I really changed in this recipe from the original was upping the amount of brocolli and of course the amount of garlic. I rarely meet a recipe that I feel has enough garlic in it. Often I double to amount a recipe calls for.

Spaghetti with broccoli, walnuts and ricotta
original source

1/2 cup of walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
2 heads of broccoli
3 tbsp. olive oil
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 handful of parsley, chopped
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 cup ricotta cheese
14 oz. spaghetti
salt and pepper to taste

1) Cut off broccoli crowns leaving 1 inch of stem. Cut crowns into slices including stems.

2) Heat oil in a large pan on medium high heat and add the broccoli. Cook for about 5 minutes or until they start to soften. Then add garlic, parsley, lemon zest and nuts. Cook for another five minutes stirring often.

3) Reduce the heat and stir in the ricotta, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add pasta, cooked to package instructions, and gently toss until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

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