Other people’s pasta.
Making other people’s pasta is not like wearing someone else’s clogs, or using someone else’s hair brush. It’s not about fitting your form into someone else’s, but sometimes it does feel similarly intimate. Like making other people’s pasta teaches you about the comfort places they retreat into in rainstorms (in the world and in the mind).
Making other people’s pasta is more about taking someone else’s comfort and making it yours. Maybe that means more pine nuts, or less. More lemon zest or none. An alarming amount of ricotta cheese because no one is looking, besides your cat who is deeefinitely judging you in jealousy.
Other people’s pasta… on the fly, really very comforting, charming, easily delicious, happily adaptable, your and theirs and ours- there’s a book about it: Back Pocket Pasta.
To begin, gather the good stuff:
- a pound of spinach (it’ll cook down into approximately two tablespoons which is a exaggeration but also not).
- fettuccine noodles (or any thick pasta you find enjoyable to the senses).
- butter and garlic, yep.
- pine nuts and parmesan cheese, uh huh.
- ricotta cheese and (not pictures) Italian sausage.
Pine nuts are toasted to golden, right there on the stovetop. It takes pine nuts from soggy soft, to fragrant with a bit of bite. It’s a good idea. Toasting these delicate nuts in the oven? I burn them without fail so… let’s not fail.
Ricotta cheese (the whole milk variety because why fuss around) is seasoned generously with salt and pepper.
I added sausage into someone else’s pasta… making in not theirs, but mine. Mine that I will likely happily share.
Garlic is sautéed in butter and spinach is wilted into the garlic. It melts down to a shiny emerald.
Heavy cream, salt and pepper, and a good pinch of fresh nutmeg because it compliments the sausage and dark greens.
Al dente fettuccine and crispy sausage are tossed with the creamy spinach mixture and left to absorb some of the liquid. It’s dreams. That’s what’s happening here.
AAAND tossed with seasoned ricotta and toasted pine nuts. This is my pasta dinner… and I wouldn’t be mad if a bit of lemon zest found its way onto the pasta along with a mountainous amount of cheese.
Dinner this week from other people made into yours home-time delight. With love and ricotta, ok?
- 3/4 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil.
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausage
- 1 pound fettuccine pasta
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 pound baby spinach leaves
- 1 cup heavy cream
- freshly grated nutmeg
- grated Parmesan cheese
- In a large bowl, combine ricotta cheese with a good pinch or two of salt and a few good grinds of black pepper.
- Add olive oil to a medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1 pound of uncased Italian sausage to the pan and use the back of a spoon to break up the sausage as it cooks. Cook to a crisp, sizzling brown. Remove from heat, place the browned meat into a small bowl and wipe the pan with a paper towel.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a tablespoon or two of kosher salt to the water. Add the pasta and cool to al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of pasta water, and let it rest in the sink.
- While the pasta cooks, heat the empty sausage pan over medium heat. Add the toasted pine nuts and stir around the hot pan until the nuts begin to toast and brown making sure the nuts don't burn. Remove from the pan and place in a small bowl.
- In the same pan over medium heat, melt butter. Add the garlic and saute until golden, about 2 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the spinach and cook until the spinach wilts down, about 4 minutes.
- Add the cream and bring to a simmer. Cook until the sauce thicken slightly, about 2 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.
- Add the pasta to the garlic cream skillet and splash with some of the reserved pasta water. Toss with tongs to combine.
- Add the spinach and pasta mixture directly into the bowl of seasoned ricotta, off the heat. Toss to combine, adding a bit more pasta water as necessary to loosen the sauce. Don't incorporate the ricotta too much, leaving large streaks and chunks.
- Plate in large bowls. Sprinkle generously with pine nuts. Add Parmesan cheese and enjoy warm.