November 10, 2022

Recipe: Pasta with Sicilian ricotta and pistachio sauce

Cheese making is disarmingly simple, requiring only whole milk and an acid or enzyme. You can of course simply buy the cheese for these recipes, but why let someone else have all the fun?

Pasta with Sicilian ricotta and pistachio sauce
serves 4-6

200g pistachios
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
150g pancetta, cut into small dice
80g Parmigiano cheese
400g fresh ricotta (traditionally sheep ricotta but cow’s milk ricotta is fine)
500g fresh, homemade busiati or bought short pasta such as paccheri
200g cauli blossoms
salt for pasta and to taste
coarsely ground black pepper

Roast raw pistachio kernels and rub off their skins. Put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Add salt once the water starts to boil. Leave 16 pistachios whole and put the rest in a food processor and blend only until coarse.

In a large, wide frypan (big enough to eventually hold all the cooked pasta), heat the oil and fry the pancetta until well rendered. Add all the pistachios. Off the heat, add the grated cheese. Cream the ricotta in a food processor or with a fork. Put it in the pan with the pancetta and nuts.

Cook the pasta to al dente in the salted water. Just before the pasta is ready, throw in the cauli blossoms. At this point, take a cup of the cooking water and add to the ricotta in the frypan. Stir it in until you have a creamy sauce. Add salt to taste.

Drain the pasta and cauli blossoms and mix with the sauce. Add ground black pepper. Serve immediately with a few whole pistachios and extra grated cheese.

makes 1 basket of about 400g or two of 200g
2L whey
250ml whole, unhomogenised milk (raw sheep milk is ideal if available)
pinch salt
12ml vinegar

In a clean saucepan, heat the whey to 60C. Slowly add milk and salt. Continue to stir until you reach 90C. Add the vinegar and stir briefly. Turn off heat. Let the curd develop over the next 30-60 minutes. Scoop the ricotta gently from the top and place in a muslin-lined cheese basket sitting on a trivet in a wide bowl. Allow to drain and set. Consume within 4-5 days.

Whey can be kept and used for baking or in stocks and sauces.


This article first appeared in the September 2022 issue of SALIFE magazine.

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