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Baked fusilli with pesto-spiked ricotta: Not particularly authentic, but still tasty…

April 18, 2011

This dish is made with a very North American rendition of meat sauce.  I didn’t use beef or pork or even lamb.  I used ground bison, which as far as I have gathered bares no relation to the famous Chianina beef of Italy.  Otherwise, it is a little riff on the baked rigatoni I recently salivated over from The Proud Italian Cook.  Indeed, baked pasta is one comforting comfort food.  And that glass of red wine to accompany doesn’t hurt either.

The making of the meat sauce went something like this:

Cast iron on the element, a few generous glugs of olive oil in the cast iron, 5 cloves roughly chopped garlic, half a minced onion, about 8 ounces ground bison in the oil.

Cook till the meat is brown, the onions are translucent and your husband says, “Man, doesn’t that smell good?”

Add a generous pinch of both crushed red pepper and dried basil, and a more stingy pinch of dried oregano, as much freshly ground pepper as you like, and about a teaspoon of salt.

Then add a 28oz/798ml can of tomatoes and all their juice, (roughly chop them while they are still in the can) and a glug of white (or red) wine.

Simmer while you cook the fusilli al dente (or rigatoni, or whatever your preference) and spike the ricotta.

We’re down to our last three pesto pucks in the freezer.  It was a bold move on my part to decide to use one for this dish.  I hesitated a moment…when will we be pinching off new clusters of the fragrant leaves from this summer’s garden basil?  In all likelihood, not until July…late July.  We will probably be without homemade pesto for a little while.  I’m counting on the earlier harvests–spring greens, tender peas–to tide me over.  And I wanted to add a little pizazz to the ricotta.  So.  We combined about 300 grams/10.5 oz. of ricotta with about 1/3 cup of pesto, but when comes to how much pesto, as Joshua likes to say, follow your heart.

When the sauce was adequately simmered, the pasta al dente and the ricotta pesto-tispy, we grated some Grana Padano and layered it all in our new yard sale find: a round, white, faux Pyrex baking dish, circa 1970’s: first the sauce, then the pasta, spoonfuls of ricotta, sprinkling of Grana Padano (or Parmesan), repeat until your pan in filled.  Add a few final dollops of ricotta and bake at 350F for about 20 minutes–or until things look hot and bubbly.  We had a fair but of pasta leftover (we cooked a whole pound), but pretty much used up the sauce and pesto-ricotta.  Jacob got some of the sauce on his spaghetti and I spread the last of the ricotta on a couple slices of fresh bread to accompany my bowl of soup for lunch the next day.

Serve in oversized bowls with fresh Grana Padano or Parmesan for grating, and good olive oil to drizzle.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Patty Chestnut permalink
    April 22, 2011 9:35 am

    This one looks great!! I’ll eat just about anything with meat sauce or pesto on it!!
    love you Patty

  2. April 30, 2011 8:33 am

    I must say that even though pictures of food are usually just about my favorite kind of photo, they can only be surpassed by Jacob Finley wearing that same food! Wish I could be there to see him! (and you, of course 😉

    • May 2, 2011 10:47 pm

      Jacob Finley continues to be an excellent canvas for food art. You should have seen him before his bath tonight! Red sauce again, and tiny little ring-shaped pasta stuck all over his naked belly. Awesome.

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