A few months ago I shared our “woe-is-me” story of buying a house and two cars and then suddenly feeling a little bit of a panic at seeing the bulk of our liquid assets disappear from our bank accounts. As I wrote at the time, there was a lot of mac and cheese. And it wasn’t homemade. It wasn’t even Kraft (the blue box!). No, it was the generic brand and it was a sad state of affairs.
Now that the paychecks have been rolling in and our bank account is once again growing, not shrinking, we’ve abandoned that sad old generic mac and cheese. There were a few months in which we didn’t want to see any mac and cheese of any variety, but now that a little time has passed, the knockout combination of cheese and pasta is again on our radar.
This recipe for lemony ricotta basil pasta (found here on The Kitchen: Apartment Therapy may not be what most people think of when they imagine mac and cheese, but even with its more sophisticated ingredients, it is still reminiscent of the old favorite. And guess what, it’s so simple that it takes just about as long as the boxed stuff! Elegance in no time flat! Did I mention yet that it’s absolutely delicious, too? With the creamy ricotta, splash of lemon, and hint of basil, you’ll want to grab a big bowl and curl up on the couch with a blanket to savor it. If you make your own ricotta (as we did, in this case), it’s even better. A perfect, super-easy weeknight meal.
Lemony Ricotta Pasta with Basil(serves 4-6)
1 lb good-quality pasta, in a short twisted shape or with a hole (such as penne or gemili)
1 15-ounce package (about 2 cups) fresh ricotta cheese
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons good-quality olive oil
zest of 1 lemon
juice of half the lemon
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 loosely packed basil leaves, sliced thin, as in a chiffonade
1. Set a pot of water to boil. When it boils, add a few teaspoons of salt and the pasta.
2. In a metal bowl wide enough to fit over the top of the pot, mix together the remaining ingredients, excluding the basil. When there are about 2 minutes remaining in the pasta’s cooking time, place the bowl over the pot and slowly stir the ricotta and other ingredients. You should see it loosening as it warms.
3. When the pasta is cooked al dente, drain it, add the basil to the bowl of sauce and toss with the drained pasta.