This is my new favorite pasta dish. Once you try it, I think that you will agree that this pasta with citrus scented ricotta, charred pearl tomatoes, wilted baby kale and toasted hazelnuts is delicious.
The dish came together in a way that foodies will understand. At lunch with friends, I saw a salad with citrus-scented ricotta on the menu. I ate something else, but for the next day I had citrus-scented ricotta on my mind. The following evening I needed something for dinner. I had fresh ricotta in the house. It was inevitable.
I had two bags of baby kale that I wanted to use. I decided on a pasta dish. What could I use to pull the dish together, to moisten it and add more flavor? I headed to my local Trader Joe’s and grabbed a couple of containers of pearl tomatoes. It isn’t the season for tomatoes, but I could char them under the broiler. Charring or slow roasting is the cure for mediocrity when it comes to tomatoes in winter (in New England). Toasted hazelnuts would pull the meal together. I was pretty sure that I had a winning combination.
I was right. This dish is tasty and light and beautiful.
Use good quality fresh ricotta (available at cheese shops or good Italian grocery stores).
This recipe makes 4 generous servings.
You need the following ingredients.
- 1 cup fresh ricotta
- 1 lemon (washed)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 pounds pearl or cherry tomatoes
- 2 5-ounce bags baby kale
- 1 pound pasta (I used Cavatappi)
- 2 teaspoons (or to taste) Kosher salt
- fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 1/3 cup of toasted, chopped hazelnuts
Add the ricotta to a mixing bowl.
Zest the lemon and add it to the ricotta. Juice the lemon. You’ll have about 3 tablespoons of juice. Stir two-thirds of the juice into the ricotta. Use your judgement on the consistency. It shouldn’t be too runny. If it is still thick, add the rest of the juice. Set aside.
Put your oven rack in the middle of the oven. Turn your broiler onto high.
Put a large pot of water on the stove to come to a boil.
In a large roasting pan toss the tomatoes with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Sprinkle them with salt and toss the tomatoes again to distribute the salt. Put the tomatoes under the broiler and roast them until many of the tomatoes are charred on the top. The amount of time needed will vary, but it will take around 20 minutes. Some of the skins will split and that will help spread the juices in the dish.
When the tomatoes are almost finished and the water comes to a boil, add salt to the water and cook your pasta. Drain it.
Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil to a large saucepan and turn the heat on high. When the oil is hot, add the kale to the saucepan and quickly toss it just enough to wilt it.
Add the pasta, kale and tomatoes to a large serving bowl. Scrape the cooked tomato juices into the bowl. Season the dish with salt and pepper and toss the mixture.
Top the dish with a generous scoop of the ricotta and sprinkle it with the toasted hazelnuts. Serve the remaining ricotta on the side.