If you read our last recipe for How to Make Fish and (No) Chips, you'll know that I am currently cooking under reduced circumstances. Instead of taking a hiatus from writing cooking recipes, I am forging ahead with a single camping gas burner and a touch of insanity.
I have convinced myself that this series may be helpful for anybody who is cooking on a single burner like a college student or a young professional who, like me, is saving up for a stove in their new apartment. If you are reading this and chortling away in front of your working oven and four-burner stove, well, bully for you. I was like you once. You might get a good meal out of this anyway.
Since moving to Sea Point, I have noticed a delightful difference in the culinary offerings of most grocery stores. It's Deli Central around here. You can barely move in a grocery store here for all the chicken liver paté, bocconcini, aioli, and pickled fish. Wherever I go, I also find ricotta for a good price, which is a nice surprise. Considering that pasta is one of the most versatile dishes you can make on a single burner, I've been eating a lot of it.
Ricotta is a great addition to pasta - it adds a bit of protein and creamy fat to veg-based pasta dishes. It also adds a nice bite of texture. I've been making this ricotta and tomato pasta over and over, and I haven't gotten sick of it yet. It's dead easy. I'll show you how to make it.
What you'll need from the deli:
Pasta (fusilli or penne works nicely)
Punnet of fresh tomatoes
A whole lot of fresh basil
About three cloves of garlic (or whatever you like, garlic ratios seem to be an entirely personal affair)
Bit of butter
Salt and or/stock of your choice
How to make tomato ricotta pasta
Step One: Prep your kak
Put a big pot of generously salted water on the boil. Plop in your pasta. Reserve some pasta water in a cup before draining the al dente pasta.
While that's cooking away, dice your tomatoes (that means cut them into four). Don't let the juice run away from you - catch it in a dish. You'll want that for the sauce!
During prep, you should also slice up about a handful of basil and chop your garlic.
Tip: You really don't have to chop your garlic perfectly like they do in any French cooking sequence. Ratatouille has set unrealistic expectations for home cooks. You can rough chop it and then go over it again with a sharp knife until it's in little bits. You don't need a fancy knife, you just need a sharp one. Trust me on this. Learning how to sharpen your knives is probably a good skill to learn. I can't teach you how, unfortunately, I outsource this task to my father.
Step Two: Saucy time
First, tip your chopped garlic into a pot with some melted butter. You should do this on low heat. When that gets fragrant (you can tell it's ready when somebody tells you enthusiastically that whatever you're cooking smells delicious; accept the compliment gracefully), tip in your basil.
When that smells lovely, tip in your tomatoes.
Now, turn the heat up just a touch and let this simmer until it's reduced. I did this in my trusty cast iron casserole, but I have experienced similar success in a regular old stainless steel pot. You just might encounter more sticking, so keep an eye on the tomatoes and add pasta water in when necessary. The end result should look something like this:
Phwoar, isn't that delicious! It's amazing what a bit of heat does to the humble fresh tomato. This was before I even added any pasta water. At this point, you'll want to season with salt or a stock cube. Taste as you go and remember that the ricotta is going to add some sweetness and creaminess, so don't be afraid to make a savoury sauce.
Right, go ahead and add the ricotta!
There's your sauce. Ricotta is a wonderful way to add some texture, creaminess, and protein to regular old tomato pasta. I'm a big big fan.
Last steps: chuck in your cooked pasta, heat everything through, and serve with fresh basil and a bit of flaky salt.
Not bad for a little gas burner!
Happy cooking folks,