Thursday, August 10, 2006
Pasta with Onions and Ricotta Salata
Back when we lived in our old apartment, I bought a hunk of cheese at the supermarket on a whim. I knew nothing about it, except it had a cool name. Ricotta salata. I love ricotta cheese, so I thought "what the heck." Turns out ricotta salata is related to ricotta - it's made from the same sheep's milk, but it's pressed to get out all the moisture and then dried, leaving it hard and crumbly.
I ended up using it in a pasta dish with carmelized onions. It was a pretty basic recipe: thinly slice some onion and carmelize it in a pan with olive oil. Cook a pound of spaghetti, crumble the ricotta salata, mix everything together and eat. The first taste was sublime. The cheese was salty, the onions creamy and the pasta was a vehicle to transport both into my mouth.
I only bought the cheese and made the dish once. For some reason it fell off my radar. Then the other day while we were at the supermarket I was looking at the cheese case and saw the ricotta salata. I remembered the dish and, on a whim, bought a good-sized chunk. While dinner tonight was good, it wasn't as sublime as the last time. For starters, I only used one onion, which just wasn't enough. There was too much pasta and not enough of the good stuff (i.e. the sweet onions and the salty cheese). I'll know for next time.
I also bought Romaine hearts this week, so I chopped up half of a heart, added some diced red onion, shredded carrot, diced green bell pepper and a tomato. Drizzled with balsamic vinegar and oil, it was the perfect counterpart to the pasta.