PASTA SHELLS AND GARDEN GREENS (FUSION)
As promised the other day (well, no one begged me NOT to), here's my recipe for another meatless pasta dish taking advantage of spring greens from the garden. This one's richer and more of a full-meal entree than the arugula pasta posted recently, because of the cheese.
Pick and wash two or three loosely packed cups of the most peppery, spicy fresh garden greens you've got. I used curly cress, but arugula, etc., would work just as well. Dry it well and chop it roughly, and set aside.
Pick and wash one or two cups of fresh spinach leaves. Steam until just wilted, then chop fine and mix in with the chopped salad greens above.
Boil water and cook two cups (for two people) of small shell pasta (conchiglie).
While it's cooking, heat a tablespoon or two of fruity olive oil in a large sautee pan. Slice two or three cloves of garlic very thin and cook them in it with a sprinkle of dried red pepper flakes until the garlic is translucent and very aromatic, but don't let it burn.
In a small bowl, mix 4 to 6 ounces of ricotta cheese with 4 ounces of grated Parmigiano Reggiano and black pepper to taste.
When the pasta is done, drain it and turn it into the oil and garlic in the sautee pan, and stir until the pasta is well coated. Stir in the greens and mix well. Stir in the cheese mixture and toss until everything is mixed together.
Serve with crusty bread and a salad.
The cheese and pasta makes this dish surprisingly wine-friendly. We enjoyed it with a young Beaujolais, but it would work equally well with just about any dry white.