Ultra Creamy Pasta without Cream
Ricotta is made easily. All you need is milk and an acid (e.g. vinegar, lemon juice, or citric acid).
Heat the milk, stir in the acid, and let the milk separate into curds and whey. Strain through a fine mesh strainer or thin cloth like an old handkerchief and ricotta cheese is the result. The whey can be used for baking bread or added to a soup.
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- 1 qt
- whole milk (avoid ultra pasteurized milk; it may not form curds)
- 1/4 tsp
- citric acid powder
- 1/4 c
- 1 gal
- boiling water
- 1 Tbsp
- 2 to 4
- servings shaped pasta, e.g. ziti, penne, orechietti
- 3 Tbsp
- olive oil
- 1 to 2 medium
- shallots, finely chopped
- 1 large
- red bell pepper, chopped
- 3 to 5 clove
- garlic, minced
- 6 c
- baby spinach leaves or coarsely chopped mature spinach leaves
- batch of homemade ricotta (see above)
- 1 to 2 oz
- parmesan cheese, grated
CREAMY PASTA WITH RED PEPPERS & SPINACH
1TO MAKE THE RICOTTA (Best done at least two hours before you intend to use it):
2In a large glass bowl, heat the milk in the microwave until hot but not boiling.
3Dissolve the citric acid powder in the 1/4 cup of water. Gently stir the acid into the hot milk. Other recipes for fresh cheese like this use lemon juice or vinegar. They are all good alternatives but do affect the flavor of the cheese a bit.
4Let the acidulated milk separate into curds and whey. The curds are likely to be very soft the whey should be clear. If, after sitting for about 20 minutes, the whey is still milky, reheat, add in a small pinch of citric acid powder, and stir.
5Once the curds and whey have separated, strain the mixture through a fine strainer or a thin cloth. Drain as much whey out as possible but do not squeeze dry for this application. The resulting soft white cheese is the ricotta. You may save the whey for use in bread or soup or discard it.
6TO MAKE THE CREAMY PASTA DISH:
7Put the salt in the boiling water and cook the pasta according to the box directions. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
8Heat the olive oil in a large covered skillet. Saute the shallots and red peppers for 3 to 5 minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic and saute an additional minute.
9Add the spinach to the skillet and saute about 1 minutes to wilt it. Add the pasta water, cover, and allow to simmer until most of the water disappears and the spinach is done.
10Add the cooked pasta to the vegetables. Add the ricotta and stir to coat thoroughly. Stir in the grated parmesan and serve immediately.