Shelley and I went to a very good Italian Restaurant in Calgary called Mercato. It is attached to an Italian grocery store so all the ingredients used in the kitchen can be purchased in the store. We sat at the counter overlooking the open kitchen. The food was fantastic and the cooking lesson was thrown in for free.
This was Shelley’s meal.
The recipe calls for Ricotta Salada which is an Italian cheese made from sheep’s milk. It is firm and salty and is nothing like the ricotta cheese most of us are used to. It can be tough to find. A fair substitute is mizithra which is Greek and similar.
For each serving
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 cloved garlic finely chopped
15 leaves of Arugula
Extra Virgin Olive oil
10 grape tomatoes
120 grams fresh spaghetti
Salt to taste
Toast the pine nuts until they have browned slightly.
Take half of the arugula and chop it finely. Add to it the garlic, some pine nuts and olive oil. With a mortar and pestle mash it into a pesto.
Put on a large pot of salted water on to boil. Meanwhile cut the tomatoes in half and crumble the cheese into pieces about the size of a marble. Tear the remaining arugula leaves in half.
When you have everything ready to go put the pasta into the boiling water and
bring it back to the boil. Don’t forget, fresh pasta cooks very quickly and you want it al dente or slightly firm.
When the pasta is cooked, drain it reserving some of the cooking water.
Heat a sauce pan on medium high, add a good swirl of olive oil, take enough pasta to make one or two servings, the pine nuts and the pesto and add it to the pan.
Quickly toss it a few times. add about half a cup of the cooking water and toss again. Remove from the heat. Toss once more and put the mixture into a pasta bowl.
Add the tomatoes, the cheese and the arugula and toss. Serve with a little more of the cheese shaved on top.
If you are serving more than two people it is better to mix the pasta up with the oil and other ingredients as individual servings or perhaps two at a time. Once you get past a couple of servings it is harder to manage and you may over cook the ingredients. The tomato and arugula should have a fresh flavour.