Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lemon-Ricotta Penne with Cherry Tomato Sauté

August would be incomplete without one more tomato post.  In addition to cooking with tomatoes, I've discovered a new found love in photographing them as well.  I'm sure many of you are getting tomatoes from your gardens and pots, or finding beautiful local varieties at farmers' markets.  When we picked up our CSA last week, we were greeted by baskets filled to the brim with tomatoes of different shapes, sizes, and colors, all sorted and grouped accordingly.  I chose a variety from each of the baskets with this dish in mind.  I had a friend make a sauté similar to this one night for dinner.  It's an uncomplicated and versatile little trick to have up your sleeve.  With just a handful of ingredients, you can create a fresh and sweet sauté I enjoy best over pasta.  Especially now when tomatoes are in abundance, it would be a shame not to make this one. 

It takes no more than a quick chopping and tossing to get it going.  The cherry tomatoes burst open over the heat, melting with the garlicky oil and lemony earthy thyme.  I throw the thyme right into the sauté  and simply remove it when it's complete.  It sits atop a heaping bowl of pasta tossed with ricotta, pecorino, lemon zest, and lemon juice.  The lemon is a nice compliment to the thyme.  I think lemons and tomatoes go hand in hand during summer.  This dish would also work well for a weeknight dinner.  In the amount of time it takes your pasta to cook, your sauté will be waiting for you.  It has some of the classic lasagna elements that are always a hit, but in a lighter and fresher version for the summertime.  

~Lemon-Ricotta Penne with Cherry Tomato Sauté Recipe~    

1 lb penne pasta
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 pints cherry/grape tomatoes halved
3 cloves garlic, sliced
8 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 tsp sea salt
few grinds of pepper  
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp lemon juice
3/4 cup organic whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 ladle full (a little more than 1/3 cup) of reserved cooking water from pasta 
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add pinch of salt and pasta.  Cook according to the length of time on package.  Get going on saute while the pasta is cooking.

Over medium-low heat, add extra virgin olive oil to small saute pan.  Add sliced garlic, cooking for two minutes, until slightly brown, taking care not to burn.  Add halved cherry tomatoes, thyme sprigs, salt, and pepper.  Cook saute 5-6 minutes more, until the tomatoes burst and sauce forms.  Remove thyme sprigs.

Once pasta is finished, remember to reserve a ladle of the starchy cooking liquid and set aside.  Drain pasta.  In that same pasta pot, add ladle of cooking liquid and mix with the ricotta until well combined.  Add in pecorino, lemon juice, and zest.  Return drained pasta to the ricotta mixture, folding until  incorporated with the pasta.  

Transfer the ricotta pasta to a serving bowl/platter or divide among individual bowls.  Top with the cherry tomato sauté  Serves 4.


Sue/the view from great island said...

Stephanie this pasta looks great. I was just trying to find a pasta to make with my homemade ricotta cheese, and this would be perfect. I'm slowly starting to get tomato overload. I just had a grilled cheese and heirloom tomato sandwich for lunch...

Anonymous said...

Tomato, lemon, thyme? Those flavors sound awesome. Sounds like a really flavorful, quick meal. And your photography looks great!

Oh, I went to a Spanish restaurant in Seattle a couple days ago and I ordered this one tapas dish of sliced heirloom tomatoes, covered with salt and olive oil. It was so delicious! I thought of your tomato salad post and how it had influenced me to try tomatoes by themselves more often, haha! :)

Stephanie said...

Thanks Sue-homemade ricotta! sounds great. I hear you on the tomato overload. I made quinoa stuffed tomatoes last night for dinner! :)

Glad to hear you tried it out Amy haha :) Sometimes simple things are really great! And you have influenced me to eat more delicious desserts! Definitely a good thing!

Simply Life said...

oh this looks amazing! Hope you're enjoying this perfect summer weather in Boston! :)

Stephanie said...

Thanks! Same to you!

kyleen said...

I love how you used ricotta as opposed to cream; it really does make the dish lighter. The tomatoes are gorgeous! This is a great idea for all the extra tomatoes I have lying around on the counter from the garden.

I’ve tagged you in the Seven Links blogger game here: http://www.sixteenbeans.com/2011/08/my-seven-links.html