Orecchiette with Creamy Herb Ricotta Sauce, Grilled Zucchini Pepper Salad

by Jennifer

This dinner was yummy, even though the yellow plate doesn’t do it justice eye appeal-wise.  Get the salad started first as it can sit for a bit (and gets better with the sitting).  For parents of young kids, two of my three (the third is pretty selective, but he did eat some) had huge helpings of the pasta and loved it.  Serves 4 adults.

Orecchiette with Creamy Herb Ricotta Sauce

  • 1 lb orecchiette
  • 3/4 cup fresh whole milk ricotta
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh herbs – I used about half chives, and half a mix of oregano, sage and thyme
  • 1 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil;  cook pasta until al dente according to package directions.  Before draining the pasta, reserve 1/2 cup cooking water.

In a large bowl combine ricotta through black pepper.

Stir in pasta and reserved cooking water, mixing well, then serve hot.

Grilled Zucchini Pepper Salad – from Gourmet magazine

  • 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 lbs zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/4”-thick slices
  • 2 red bell peppers, cut into four pieces each
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 TBS balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp packed light brown sugar
  • 2 TBS chopped basil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Prepare grill for medium to medium-high cooking.  Toss zucchini and peppers with 2 TBS oil and salt and pepper to taste.

Grill vegetables 3 – 4 minutes per side, until just tender and grill marks appear.  Transfer peppers to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 10 minutes.  Peel peppers and cut into 1” pieces;  slice zucchini into 1” pieces as well.

In a medium bowl whisk together remaining 2 TBS oil, vinegar, brown sugar, and salt and pepper to taste.

Add vegetables and basil, mixing well to coat, and let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

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Pizza Rustica

by Jennifer

This recipe comes from Cooking Light, and I changed very little, but next time I will increase the crust by half;  I did substitute whole wheat pastry flour for all-purpose flour, which may have made the dough slightly harder to roll thin enough, but I rolled it pretty thin and it barely covered the pie plate or the top.  Still quite good, though!  Serves 6 – 8.

Crust:

  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water

Whisk together flour, salt and baking powder.  Pour in the olive oil and water and stir to combine.  Knead in the bowl or on a lightly floured surface for just a couple minutes, then divide the dough in two and wrap each in a piece of plastic wrap.  Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes before rolling out on a lightly floured surface.

Filling:

  • 2 red peppers
  • 2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb Swiss chard, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 large shallots, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 16 oz cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed, sliced
  • 8 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 oz shredded fontina cheese (1/2 cup)
  • 1 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (1/4 cup)
  • 1 TBS chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • Cooking spray

Place red peppers on a tray a few inches from the broiler and broil, turning occasionally, until all sides are blackened and blistered.

Transfer peppers to a ziplock bag and seal the bag, letting the steam loosen the skins.  When they’re cool enough to handle, peel off and discard skin (and stem and seeds), then chop peppers.  (You can do this step up to one day ahead and refrigerate.)

Heat 1 TBS oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and cook chard, tossing occasionally,

until it wilts.  Transfer chard to a colander in the sink.  Wipe pan clean with a paper towel, then heat the remaining TBS oil in the skillet.

Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally,

for 5 minutes.  Transfer mushroom mixture to a fine-mesh sieve to drain.

Press on chard, and the mushroom mixture, to drain off as much liquid as possible, and drain off any liquid from the roasted red peppers.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl mix together ricotta cheese through egg white.

Add vegetables and stir well to combine.

Coat a 9” pie plate with cooking spray;  roll out half of the dough and transfer to pie plate.  Pour vegetable mixture into the bottom crust, then roll out and top with the remaining dough.  Crimp crust edges.  Cut slits in the top crust for the steam to vent.

Bake for 45 minutes, then let cool for 30 minutes before serving.

Summer Squash Lasagne

by Jennifer

I’m not usually a fan of lasagne because it always seems so heavy.  I don’t know if it was the Barilla no-boil lasagne noodles, which themselves baked up so light, or the squash, or the skim milk ricotta (which I made the day before, recipe also in Ricki Carroll’s Home Cheesemaking book, even easier than the 30-Minute Mozzarella, and no, I’m not insane, I just had a gallon of skim milk that I needed to use up fast!), but this lasagne was so light and delicious, it actually seemed perfect for summer.  Serves 8, alongside a salad (some garlic bread would be tasty, too…).

  • 1 1/2 lbs mixed summer squash (I used zucchini and yellow crookneck squash)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese, preferably part-skim or nonfat
  • 8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (I used a mix of basil, marjoram, sage and thyme)
  • 1 egg white
  • 24 – 25 oz jar marinara sauce
  • 12 no-boil lasagne noodles

Slice the squash very thinly, then toss it with the salt in a colander set over the sink and let it sit for 30 minutes.  Rinse it well with cool water and pat it dry on a kitchen towel.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium-size bowl combine ricotta cheese, 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, herbs and egg white.

Coat an 8” x 12” deep pan with cooking spray, then spread a little of the marinara sauce over the bottom.  Place 3 noodles in the pan next to each other,

spread 1/3 of the cheese mixture on top,

then arrange 1/3 of the squash slices in a single layer.  Top with a little more sauce, and repeat two more times,

ending with a last layer of noodles, the last of the sauce, and the remaining 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese.  Coat a piece of foil with cooking spray and cover the pan.  Bake the lasagne, covered, for 50 minutes, or until the lasagne is bubbling,

then remove the foil and bake for a few more minutes, until the cheese on top is melted.

Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.