The Virgin Stove

Making everything for the first time

Linguine with Summer Squash and Ricotta

Chris gets annoyed when I don’t update my blogs for weeks at a time. He checks them regularly and I suppose it cheers him up to see my thoughts on virtual paper and that I’m writing instead of harassing him. 🙂 Or perhaps he just appreciates reading my posts.

A few weeks ago, I cooked yellow long-neck squash and asparagus stewed in Thai shrimp paste (that recipe will follow). I remember that Chris was pretty bummed because he picked the squash too late and the other half of it ballooned and turned into a deep yellow. We didn’t know then that we were supposed to pick it before it ripens — when the fruit is long and slim — so one can eat the whole creamy vegetable without having to take out the seeds. Of course, he cheered up when I put the stew in front of him.

This time around, the squash was picked at the perfect time.

My only complaint about this dish is that I could not replicate that perfectly smooth, whipped cream consistency for the ricotta blend as shown in the ABC site even when I whisked the cheese to an inch of its life. Maybe they used KitchenAid? Also remember not to overload on the sausage. I only added them to provide more taste and a little protein for my skinny husband.

We had to replace the car’s bumper this week because, er, let’s just say that I murdered a concrete trash can in a convenience store’s parking lot. So this month will be quite lean for us. But cheap does NOT mean bad food. It means enjoying healthy meals at home for less than 10 dollars instead of spending 20-40 outside. The only exceptions are Date Night Fridays and Chris’ Wing-and-Beer Wednesdays. Here is a breakdown of what this meal cost us:

1 lb dried pasta linguine – $1
2 Italian sausage patties from Botto’s – $1.5
1 cup fresh ricotta – $2
1/2 cup grated parmesan – $1
1 yellow long-neck  squash – free from the garden
sprigs of fresh mint – free from the garden

That’s five dollars and fifty cents for four servings, a dollar and a half per person for a meal that could cost $10-12 in a restaurant! This is why Steffi McScrooge made the effort of learning how to cook, ladies and gentlemen.

Linguine with Summer Squash and Ricotta
based on Mario Batali’s Molto Gusto @ the ABC site

Serves 4

6 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5-6 tablespoons water

1 lb dried pasta
2 Italian sausage patties or a large peeled sausage, sliced or shaped into strips
1 medium summer squash or zucchini (or both)
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves

sea salt and ground black pepper

Procedure:

  • Fill a pot with enough water to cover 1 lb of pasta and boil until it rolls. Add a teaspoon of salt and the linguine, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Cook until al dente and drain, reserving 1/3 cup of pasta water.
  • While waiting for the water to boil and for the pasta to cook, prepare the sauce. Combine the ricotta, Parmesan and three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a bowl and mix briskly with a whisk. Add water one tablespoon at a time (around four or five) until the mixture loses its clumpiness and turns into very thick cream. Refrigerate until serving.
  • Prepare the vegetables. Cut the squash lengthwise and slice each piece thinly, around 1/3-1/2 centimeters thick. Chop the mint and set aside.
  • Over medium heat, cook the sausage pieces in a stir fry pan or wok. Cover and leave for four to five minutes. Drain the pan and add a tablespoon of olive oil. Saute the meat until it browns and lay on paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
  • Wipe the same pan with a kitchen towel to remove the oil from the sausage. Add the remaining olive oil and saute the squash slices over medium heat. Stir constantly until the flesh is faintly translucent. Do not overcook as this will ruin the texture and flavor of the squash.
  • Add the drained pasta with the reserved pasta water into the pan, stir, and braise with the squash for two minutes. Turn the heat off and toss in the mint. Add salt and pepper as needed.
  • To serve, top with sausage pieces and two spoonfuls of the blended ricotta.

[print recipe]

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