Sunday, April 29, 2012

Rotini with Peas, Sausage, and Ricotta Cheese



Here's the second take of a recipe I tried almost a year ago. Some critiques of the way I carried out the recipe back were reason enough for a re-do. The most annoying result of my first attempt was that the peas rolled to the bottom of my bowl, leaving me to eat a pile of pasta and sausage followed by a pile of peas. I wised up this time, being sure to smash the peas like the author intended and gave them even more support by using the groovy rotini.

Rotini with Peas, Sausage, and Ricotta Cheese
adapted from Genesis of a Cook
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1 lb frozen peas, thawed
7 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
1 bunch of basil leaves, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
salt, to taste

Bring a large pot to a boil on medium-high heat.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic; once fragrant add the sausage.


Use a spatula to break up the sausage into bite size pieces. When sausage starts to brown, after about 5 minutes, set aside in a colander over a bowl allowing fat to drain.

I ended up cooking my sausage almost completely. This is really not necessary.

Add the peas to the pan and using the back of a spatula*, smash the peas. Turn off the heat.

*The original recipe says to use the back of a wooden spoon. I highly recommend this. Silicone spatulas are really slippery and aren't useful when trying to smoosh equally slippery peas.

Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite. Reserve a cup of the pasta cooking water; drain pasta.

The Barilla rotini was al dente in 7 minutes. If you look at the far left of the second image above, you'll see that I did indeed remember to reserve some pasta water.

Return the pasta immediately to the pot and add ricotta cheese, tossing to coat, adding reserved cooking water in 1/4 cup increments as necessary to moisten the pasta.
 
Unfortunately, I'd neglected the reserved pasta water. Once I stirred the ricotta into the rotini, I just kept on truckin'. Use your water.

Add the peas, sausage and basil, tossing to coat, adding additional pasta water as necessary. Salt to taste.
 
Again, I completely forgot the water.


This dish turned out quite well, albeit a little dry. The ricotta in the rotini spirals didn't look exactly appetizing (yeast infection came to mind when reviewing the images) and would've been better dissolved in pasta water, likely offering a smoother, creamier texture. Ah well. The smashing of the peas made difference enough to offset that downside. It was much nicer to have them dispersed throughout the bites rather than finding a pool of peas at the bottom of the bowl. The multi-colored rotini offered a brightness lacking in my first trial, don't you think?

Cost:
  • tri-color rotini: $2
  • olive oil: $0.08
  • garlic: $0.10
  • hot Italian sausage: $3.99
  • peas: $1.50
  • ricotta cheese: $1.54
  • basil: $1.65
Total: $10.86 or $1.81 for each of six servings.


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