Wednesday, January 26, 2011

spaghetti "prima vera" with ricotta cakes

This is a pretty simple way to use up some of the fresher veggies from the farm, if you haven't planned a meal in advance.

"Prima vera" really refers to the first spring veggies, but not being Italian, I can extend the meaning a bit. Tonight we had carrots and leeks, harvested in the fall and winter, respectively.

Fry 1 carrot and 4 small leeks (tonight they were around finger-sized) in a bit of olive oil with pepper and a pinch of salt, just enough to make them soft. Let the pan cool down to the lowest temperature on the burner, and meanwhile whip up a roux with a trusty whisk. You don't need a lot of this, as this is only a frying pan's worth of pasta sauce. I used 1 Tbsp. of flour and an equal amount of butter. This was stirred in with the veggies. Once melted you can add milk or blend cream until you get a white sauce of a consistency that you prefer. Stir in any Italian herbs that you prefer. Tonight I used about 2 tsp. of fennel seed, 2 Tbsp loose of oregano, and 2 small bay leaves. Except for the bay, these were dried from our summer herb garden, and were still packed with their flavours. Delicious.

The ricotta cakes are simpler to make than the above, but the secret is to mix them up before you do the prima vera sauce, and then fry them after. Fry them right before the meal is served, in fact.

Take a cup or two of ricotta cheese, preferably the crumbly home-made version. If you don't make it, then maybe try asking at a specialty deli. Mix this with 2 Tbsp of ground parmesan cheese, 1 Tbsp of flour, 1 egg, freshly ground pepper to taste, and a pinch of sea salt. Fry it at a medium heat for a few minutes, and then flip them for a final minute.

Throw the sauce on top of some spaghetti noodles, and place the ricotta cakes beside and enjoy. Tonight we were at a loss for steamed broccoli, but that is what I would also put on the plate, in a perfect world.

Bon appetit!


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