Whole Wheat Pasta & Snow Peas with Lemon, Mint and Ricotta Sauce
I love taking recipes apart and putting them back together in lighter and healthier ways. Case in point, there's a fantastic and simple recipe in the new Giada De Laurentiis' new cookbook, Giada's Kitchen - New Italian Favorites, a whole wheat linguine with green beans, ricotta and lemon. The original recipe is fairly light and easy to make. I'm not claiming that I can make it better, but I can make it work for me with what I have on hand. In the process, if that also means that I can tweak it enough to lower the fat and calories then you can be assured I'm going to attempt it. Working from memory and using the ingredients I had I recreated the recipe with tasty results. The beauty of this recipe, no matter which version is used, is that it is extremely adaptable. Snow peas, peas, asparagus, or broccoli can be substituted for the green beans. For added colour and flavor add minced parsley, mint and/or basil. Low-Fat part skim ricotta can be traded out for a non-fat ricotta. Toss in diced tomatoes or halve cherry or grape tomatoes. Top with sauteed shrimp. Spice it up with red pepper flakes. I like this recipe so much because it is infinitely adaptable to the seasons and while seemingly rich it is also light enough to be a side or appetizer, spring through winter.
- 1 Pound Whole Wheat Pasta - spaghetti or linguine
- 1 & 1/2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 1 Small/Medium Onion - thin half moon slices
- 3 Garlic Cloves - minced
- 1/2 Pound Snow Peas - blanched and julienned
- Zest from 1 Lemon & Juice from 1/2 Lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 Cup Non-Fat Ricotta
- 1/4 Cup Parsley - roughly chopped & several whole parsley leaves for garnish
- 4-5 Mint Sprigs - roughly chopped & several mint sprigs for garnish
- Freshly Grated Parmesan, Locatelli, or Gran Pandano Cheese for topping finished pasta (optional)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
- While the pasta water is boiling, heat the olive oil in a non-stick saute pan over medium heat until the oil begins to shimmer.
- Add in the julienned onions and saute until the onions begin to lightly caramelize, about 6-8 minutes.
- When the onions begin to take on some colour, add in the garlic, stirring to incorporate and monitoring the heat. Don't burn the garlic, caramelize it to bring out the garlic's sweet, nutty essence.
- Reduce heat to low and add in the blanched and julienned snow peas if using (or at this point add in blanched broccoli florets; frozen baby peas; or blanched and 1-inch cut pieces of asparagus.)
- Season the onion mixture lightly with a pinch of salt and a few dashes of freshly ground black pepper. Remove from heat, cover and set aside.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta until it is al dente. Before draining, reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.
- Drain the pasta and return to the cooking pot.
- Add in the ricotta, lemon zest and lemon juice; stir to incorporate.
- Thin the ricotta with some of the reserved pasta cooking water.
- Add to the pasta the sauteed onion and snow pea mixture and half of the chopped parsley and mint. Toss to combine, seasoning to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Plate and garnish with additional parsley and mint.
- As a splurge and for added flavor, top with a good quality freshly grated cheese.
- Serves 4 to 6.