Ricotta Pasta with Chimichurri
I love chimichurri sauce. The bright green color and subtle spiciness are perfect with steamed fish or grilled skirt steak. I've wanted to incorporate this delicious green sauce into a vegetarian dish for some time now to share with my husband Lulu.
So, I made a dish of fettuccine pasta with a creamy white sauce and served it with a little chimichurri sauce. The creaminess of the white sauce is made with ricotta cheese and it matches wonderfully with the garlic and herb flavor of the chimicurri. It's a healthy alternative to fettuccine alfredo that doesn't skimp on flavor.
Yields: 8 servings1 (16-ounce) package fettuccine pasta
2-½ teaspoons salt
1 bunch curly parsley
1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste (see tips)
1 Anaheim green pepper
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon ground coriander
1 bay leaf, finely chopped
juice of 1 lime
3/4 teaspoon sea salt (or regular salt)
1-¼ cups olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
9 tablespoons butter, diced
4-1/3 cups milk, warmed for 2 minutes in the microwave
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
8 ounces ricotta cheese (3/4 cup)
Keeping a bright green color: Blanch (dip for 10 seconds in boiling water then transfer to an ice-cold bath) the parsley, drain and pat dry on a paper towel. Roughly chop; you'll get approximately 1 cup of greens.
Roasting peppers (check the tip section for the oven method): Cut the stem off the Anaheim pepper. Wash the pepper, pat dry and brush with oil. Place a grill on your stove and char all the skin of the pepper. Wrap in aluminum foil. Let cool for about 5-10 minutes until you can handle it without discomfort. Clean the pepper using a knife; the skin will come right off. Seed it and finely chop the flesh.
For the chimichurri sauce:
In a mini-food processor or mini-blender, combine the blanched, chopped parsley, the ginger garlic paste, lime juice, roasted chile pepper, bay leaf, paprika and ground coriander. Pulse and slowly add about ½ to 3/4 cup of olive oil until it becomes a thick paste. Season with sea salt and pepper.
Transfer to a 1-pint jar, cover with about 1/3 cup of olive oil and store in the refrigerator; it will store up to 2 weeks.
For the fettuccine pasta:
Bring about 8 quarts of water to a boil. Add the pasta, bring back to a boil, then immediately lower the heat to a gentle boil. That way the pasta is cooked all the way through evenly. Cook the pasta for about 10-12 minutes total. Salt (with 2/3 teaspoon) the water half-way through the cooking process (it will bring out the natural flavor of the pasta and the pasta will be more tender) and keep stirring every now and then so the pasta doesn't stick to the bottom. It may take longer than the cooking time that's written on the box.
When the pasta is cooked (cooked inside and out but still in shape and firm), reserve about 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup of pasta water and drain the pasta (do NOT rinse). Transfer it to a large flat platter or into a colander.
In a large non-stick sauté pan, heat the rest of the olive oil. Add the chopped onions and cook until they're slightly golden. Add the garlic, cook for another 2 minutes. Add the fettuccine pasta and 1 tablespoons of butter. Toss the pasta using tongs for about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. If the pasta starts sticking to the bottom, add the reserved pasta water. Transfer to a large serving platter.
For the ricotta cream:
In a saucepan, melt 8 tablespoons of butter over medium-low; you don't want the butter to burn. Bring the heat back up to medium-high (the butter should be hot and golden) and add the flour. Keep stirring manually with a whisk for approximately 3 minutes. The flour should absorb the butter instantly and form a paste. Add the warm milk in 3 stages; stir well until incorporated. Increase the heat while constantly stirring for about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low. Add the ricotta cheese. Stir well. Season with salt and pepper. Let the sauce rest until it's time to assemble the dish.
When you're ready to serve, bring the chimichurri sauce back to room temperature. Stir well.
I served the dish family style. I placed the large platter of warm fettuccine pasta with a large bowl of the ricotta creamy sauce and the jar of chimichurri sauce on the side. Everyone helped themselves to their own pasta bowl, starting with the fettuccine, a ladleful of ricotta sauce, and then finally the chimichurri.
I use parsley stems as well as the leaves, because that's where the flavor is the most potent. If you don't have any curly parsley, you can use other herbs such as cilantro, flat-leaf parsley or basil.
You've probably noticed I use ginger garlic paste a lot in my cooking. It tastes great and is very healthy for you as well. Just clean the ginger, carefully removing any dirt. Peel the ginger root with a paring knife or the edge of a spoon, then finely chop it. Place the chopped ginger and 5 cloves of garlic in a blender and, add about 2 tablespoons (or more) of water for a smooth flow. Transfer to a jar and store in the refrigerator. You can keep this paste for at least a week in the refrigerator.
I roasted the peppers on the stove. Here's Carole's oven method for roasting peppers:
The oven method works well for chiles, garlic and tomatoes.
Preheat your oven to 450°F. Spread the peppers evenly on a cookie sheet, in a single layer. Roast the peppers for about 4-5 minutes until the skins blister. Watch carefully so they don't burn. Place the roasted peppers in a plastic bag and seal the bag. After about ten minutes, just take them out of the bag and the skins come right off under running water. Works great!
You could also store the chimichurri sauce in the freezer. Just place about 1 tablespoon of sauce per slot in an ice-cube tray and freeze them. Transfer the ice-cubes into sealable plastic bags and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. I think it's the best way to keep the same flavor without getting freezer burn. I store them exactly the same as I do extra pesto or papaya (for marinating meat).
To make béchamel sauce or any cream sauce like this ricotta cream, you should always use all the ingredients at the same temperature. Make sure to heat the milk in the microwave for about 2 minutes (or in a saucepan), so it's warm. If you get lumpy pieces in the sauce, don't hesitate to use a hand blender.
I used regular cow's milk ricotta cheese for this recipe but if you like a stronger flavor, don't hesitate to use goat ricotta cheese. As you may have noticed, I'm a huge fan of this variety of cheese.
If you're a pasta lover, check out my other pasta dishes.Published By: on March 3, 2010.