|If you have fresh basil or arugula in your garden, this quick pasta dish is delicious!|
For a long time I never thought of pasta as being a summer dish, except for pasta salads. Then a few years ago I discovered no-cook pasta sauces, where a mixture of summer vegetables and fresh herbs are combined with freshly cooked pasta for a delightful dish that's eaten barely warm. I used my first basil pickings of the summer in this flavorful sauce that combines barely-cooked arugula and basil, pesto, ricotta cheese, parmesan, lemon zest, and olive oil. I didn't have that much basil yet, so I used a combination of chopped basil with a few tablespoons of basil pesto, and if you don't have garden basil you could probably use even more pesto. I also lightened up the dish by using part-skim ricotta cheese, which I thought gave plenty of creaminess to the finished pasta. If you like the strong flavors of arugula and basil, I think this is a perfect summer pasta recipe, but if you're not an arugula fan spinach would also be good.
I used Dreamfields Low Carb Pasta to keep the recipe South Beach Diet friendly, but if you're not on a diet you can use any type of pasta. The sauce ingredients are gluten-free, so if you used brown rice pasta or other gluten-free pasta, this would be a gluten-free recipe.
I only had about 1 cup of chopped basil from my fledgling basil plants, so I used a couple of tablespoons of basil pesto to replace the other cup of basil the recipe called for.
A generous amount of fresh lemon zest really brightened up the flavors in this pasta, but it's probably optional if you don't have a lemon on hand.
While the pasta is cooking, combine the ricotta cheese, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, 1 tablespoon olive oil, lemon zest, salt, and pepper.
Saute the chopped arugula and basil just until it's wilted. (Then stir in the basil pesto if you're using that.) If you're not a fan of the peppery flavor of arugula, I think this would also be good with baby spinach.
(Makes about 6 servings, adapted slightly from a recipe by Lori Longbotham for Fine Cooking.)
1 box (13.25 oz.) Dreamfields penne pasta (or use other pasta of your choice)
8 oz. (1 cup ) part-skim ricotta cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese (preferably freshly grated Parmesan) plus more for serving if desired
1 T + 1 T olive oil
zest of one lemon (probably optional, but it brightens up the flavors)
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
5 oz. baby arugula, coarsely chopped
2 cups chopped basil (or use 1 cup chopped basil and 2-3 tablespoons basil pesto like I did)
Fill a large pot with water, salt generously, and bring the water to a boil. Add pasta, start timing, and cook until barely al-dente. (Check package for cooking time; I cooked the Dreamfields Penne for barely ten minutes.)
While pasta cooks, chop the arugula, chop the basil, and zest the lemon. (Wash the arugula and basil and spin dry if needed.) In a bowl large enough to hold all the pasta and sauce, combine the ricotta cheese, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, lemon zest, and salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste. (I used a generous amount of pepper but not too much salt.)
Heat the other tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan, add the arugula and chopped basil and cook until they are barely wilted, about 2 minutes. Stir in basil pesto if using. Add the wilted arugula/basil/pesto mixture to the other sauce ingredients and stir to combine.
When pasta is done scoop out 1/3 cup pasta cooking water and set aside. Drain pasta into a colander placed in the sink. Combine the hot pasta with sauce ingredients and stir gently, adding as much of the pasta cooking water as needed to make a creamy mixture. (I used the entire 1/3 cup of pasta water.) Serve warm or room temperature, with extra freshly grated Parmesan to add at the table if desired.
South Beach Suggestions:
Using Dreamfields Pasta, part-skin ricotta, and decreasing the amount of pasta makes this recipe suitable for Phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet. However, even with the use of part-skim ricotta, the generous amount of Parmesan makes it something that I would eat as a small serving, with something like The World's Easiest Grilled Vegetables or Spicy Cabbage Salad on the side.
More No Cook Sauces with Fresh Ingredients:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Whole Wheat Spaghetti with No-Cook Sauce of Tomatoes, Arugula, Olives, and Capers from Kalyn's Kitchen
Penne Pasta with Tomato, Olive, and Feta No-Cook Sauce from Kalyn's Kitchen
No-Cook Pasta Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes, Basil, and Thyme from Kalyn's Kitchen
No-Cook Pasta Sauce with Spinach, Grapefruit, and Pine Nuts from The Passionate Cook
Sun-Dried Tomato No-Cook Sauce from The Italian Dish
Raw Pasta Sauce from One Hot Stove
Pasta with Fresh Heirloom Tomato Sauce from Dula Notes
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)