I love spring, don’t you? It’s such a welcome change after a cold winter, and this one was particularly bitter. I especially love it this year because of all the time and opportunity and space we have to enjoy the gorgeous weather. Last year, I was in love with my porch and that fluffy puppy sitting on it. This year, I’m pleased to say we’ve upgraded. So now instead of negotiating container gardens and hanging boxes, we’re trying to keep the full-grown beast-dog out of this:
She likes to dig … =/
So this year we’re thinking more “big-picture.” What to plant? What do we eat a lot of? I’m all about some tomatoes, red peppers, red bliss potatoes, zucchini and beans. I picked up some adorable little strawberry plants a week or two ago, and now I want more! I think I’ll keep those in their boxes.
With this available space … what would YOU plant?
Oh! And see those straggly, dead, vine looking things in the back corner? I’m pretty sure that those are raspberries, but we’ll see. If they are, I want to plant more. If they’re not … I want to plant more anyway =)
I’m also thrilled that spring is on its way (it’s going to be 85 degrees today, y’all!) because it means that it’s time to hang out in the backyard with a big ol mimosa and some puppies. Yesterday, two of our friends hauled over some lawn chairs and their little yellow dog. It kind of continued that way all day, with a stream of people dropping by: one of our good friends stayed to help Matt with the recording studio, and two other wonderful people dropped off a futon so we can actually sit in our cabin.
I just love spring. It’s so pleasant to be outside and share things with friends.
The next few weeks promise to be busy, but I hope that ends up being a good thing for The Pseduotarian. HBO has a new special coming out, and we’ve set up a tentative show-watching “party” on Sundays. I’m hoping that means good friends … some wine … a great show … and maybe some good old fashioned knitting and yarn (I’ve been diving into project after project!). I have so many ideas that my head is spinning! I’m also hoping that Sundays can turn into my formal “time to try a new recipe” night. To cut down on my grocery spending, I want to keep it to one new recipe a week. Now I just have to either convince our friends to try my cooking, or start eating earlier. Matt and I didn’t chow down until 10 pm (!!!) last night, partly due to the construction in the recording studio.
So, now that I’ve laid out a 5-year plan for you, my faithful, by-now-must-be-snoozing readers, I’ll get to the good stuff.
In honor of spring, and in the heart of repurposing leftovers, I wanted something light, warm … and something that helped me use up some ricotta from one of the new recipes I’ve tried out recently.
Pasta Primavera with Ricotta Sage Cream Sauce
1 cup short pasta, cooked al dente (I used about two and a half handfuls of broad egg noodles)
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Milk – I’m terribly sorry, but I can’t give an exact measurement … maybe 3/4 of a cup? I got lazy and just poured it right in =(
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
2 pinches ground sage
1/2 tomato, chopped
1/2 cup spinach, torn, uncooked
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup of peas, frozen
salt and pepper
Olive Oil – optional
While your pasta cooks, prepare your cream sauce. Melt the butter over medium heat, and whisk in the flour, breaking up any clumps. Normally for a bechamel I use a 1:1 ratio, but I wanted this sauce to be a little thinner. When the flour is blended in and the butter-flour mixture is smooth, slowly add your milk. Ideally, you should heat up the milk first, but it doesn’t matter here. Whisk the liquid, breaking up any clumps that may have formed. Turn down the temp, and let this heat until it thickens and bubbles. If you see the butter floating on top, do not be alarmed.
When your pasta is done cooking, pile your peas in the bottom of the colander and drain the pasta. The heat form the water and pasta will thaw the peas without cooking them into mush, and save you a pot or two to clean!
Put the cooked pasta, peas, tomato, red pepper and spinach in the bowl that you will be using to chow down. Don’t worry too much about keeping it warm – don’t pop it in the oven. The heat from the save will heat everything back up nicely.
Back to your bechamel – it should have thickened up a bit, to the consistency of half and half. Whisk in the ricotta, spoonful at a time and break up any lumps. Now it should be the consistency of un-strained yogurt.
Season your sauce with sage, salt and pepper to taste. Now, I added a drizzle of olive oil over my plain pasta before adding sauce, but that’s entirely optional. I just happen to have a very good, fruity olive oil right now and it tasted magnificent. Pour the ricotta sage sauce over the pasta, garnish with Parmesan and sit outside and enjoy this gorgeous weather!
I loved this – just enough creaminess without being heavy and I love the fresh veggies. You could steam them or saute them if you wanted, but I loved the texture provided by the crunchy peppers, fresh snappy peas and bite of the spinach. Yummmmm!
(When I make this again, I WILL update with the amount of milk I used. I wasn’t thinking of publishing this recipe, and just poured it in a large saucepan, just enough to cover it.)
Pictures to come when my internet gets turn on at the house (I know right, like ACTUAL pictures of the food!)