I’m late to the party, but can you really blame me? I’m living in Italy with Italians, immersed completely in gastronomic culture. It would have been a sin to try and make the feta and cherry tomato pasta sauce with my Italian roommate in town. Even Debora winced when I suggested making it for dinner when I paid her a visit in Torino.
Since I have more ricotta than I know what to do with, I decided to use my leftovers as a substitute for feta in the viral recipe from Finland. The one thing that is different about using feta is that you get an extremely creamy result, ricotta presents a different story.
As its name states in Italian, ricotta is ri-cotta, meaning it is cooked twice. This is precisely why cooking it three times is risky- you can only change the property of rennet so many times. While ricotta is usually quite soft, smooth and creamy but with distinct pearly curds of cheese when baked, ricotta becomes fairly dry and tends not to melt with such ease. This is why you’re gonna want to either puree your final sauce or simply break about the ricotta and crumble it on top of your pasta. I will warn you, however, if you choose to purée, know that chances of an aesthetic final dish are low.
Interestingly, feta is a unique food product that I learned a fair bit about during my Food Law and Legislation course this year. Though Greece is often associated with feta, there was conflict when they went to apply to the European Union for protected designation of origin status, causing friction with other countries like Denmark who could no longer call their cheese feta, based on the legislations surrounding PDO protection.
While I will give the traditional feta and tomato pasta a try at some point, I'm a sustainable foodie and had to finish my ricotta rations first. Equally delicious, but slightly more ugly, this ricotta and yellow pomodorini pasta is worth a try if you ever find yourself with way too much ricotta and no clue what to do with it!
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Ricotta & Pomodorini Pasta
* Makes two servings *
2 cup golden cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ cup olives, de-pitted
1 clove garlic, unpeeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon chili flakes
Drizzle of honey
1 cup ricotta
120 grams dried pasta of your choice (I used rigatoni!)
1 cup pasta water
Preheat the oven to 350° C.
Add tomatoes, olives, garlic to a casserole dish. In the centre, add the feta.
Coat everything with olive oil, oregano, salt, chili and honey. Bake mixture for 30 mins.
In the meantime, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta to al dente, making sure to reserve one cup of pasta water.
Remove the tomato and ricotta mix from the oven and add to a food processor, along with the pasta water. Blend until smooth.
Pour over pasta and enjoy.