Because I have some fresh mint left from the lamb meatloaf several days ago and because I don’t like to throw things away, I’m making a pasta dish featuring mint.
When my mother made lasagne, she layered ricotta, grated pecorino and tiny meatballs between the layers of homemade pasta sheets. To the ricotta, she always added a pinch of mint and black pepper. The mint (used judiciously) gave the ricotta a wonderful subtle green flavor that I always loved.
Pasta with spinach, garlic and olive oil is also an old favorite of dish of mine. I like to add a dollop of ricotta on top for some protein and richness (since spinach and ricotta are a famous match made in heaven). Adding a touch of chopped mint to that dollop of ricotta is a natural and gives the dish a bright freshness you will love. To complete the happy combination, add a generous amount of grated pecorino and black pepper.
If there’s any mint left, brew some tea.
Pasta with Spinach Ricotta and Mint
2 bags fresh spinach, rinsed (even if it’s pre-washed–there’s always some sand)
4 cloves garlic, split in half
6 tbl extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 lb fettucine or other ribbon-shaped pasta (you can use short fat pasta like rigatoni or ziti)
1/2 cup fresh ricotta
1 tbl fresh mint leaves
salt and pepper
plunge spinach into boiling salted water for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and shock with cold water. Squeeze dry in small batches.
Chop mint leaves and fold into ricotta (or blend in food processor).
Boil pasta in salted water.
While pasta is boiling, brown the garlic cloves in 5 tablespoons of the oil slowly over low heat in a broad skillet large enough to hold the pasta. Raise heat and add spinach. Saute for a minute. Add broth and saute for another couple of minutes. Check for salt and pepper, then set aside.
When pasta is cooked, toss into spinach and saute while adding a ladle of pasta water to the skillet. Saute for a minute or so to combine.
While pasta is steaming hot, top with dollops of the mint ricotta, pecorino and black pepper. Serve immediately.