Ricotta pasta is a simple but elegant dinner you can whip up in under 30 minutes. It's an adultier, somewhat healthier version of mac n'cheese that just happens to also be totally kid-approved. The vegetable additions are flexible, but using frozen peas translates to no extra prep, and very little extra time. I love this recipe for busy weeknights when I'm scratching my head thinking "What I can make ASAP?". Ricotta pasta is the perfect answer.
1largeleek, white and light green parts onlyhalved and sliced into ½" moons
½cfull fat ricotta cheesehomemade is best
¼cgrated parmesan cheese
¼cfresh torn basil
cracked black pepperto taste
Fill a large stock pot with at least 2 quarts water. Add the salt and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook to al dente per package directions. Reserve one cup of pasta water, then drain and return the pasta to the stock pot.
Once the pasta is halfway cooked, prepare the vegetables and ricotta sauce. Heat a 10" skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and butter, and heat until the butter foams.
Add the sliced leeks to skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are soft and the whitest pieces turn translucent, 4-5 minutes.
Add the garlic and sautee until fragrant, about a minute.
Add the ricotta, parmesan, and ⅓ cup of pasta water to the skillet. Stir frequently until the parmesan melts and the sauce thickens, about 3 minutes.
Add the frozen peas to the sauce and heat until warmed through, about 2 minutes.
Scrape the ricotta sauce and vegetables into the cooked pasta, along with another ⅓ cup pasta water. Toss until the pasta is evenly coated in the sauce. The sauce should be rich, but not clumpy - add more pasta water, a couple tablespoons at a time, to achieve desired consistency.
Add the fresh basil and cracked black pepper to taste, then toss once more. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed (I didn't add any).
Portion into pasta bowls, garnish with additional basil and parmesan to taste, and serve immediately. Store leftovers in a tightly sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.