FUSILLI WITH RICOTTA AND SPINACH (for four)
1 pound fresh spinach or 2 ten-ounce packages frozen spinach
¼ pound butter
1 pound fusilli or rotini
½ cup fresh, whole-milk ricotta
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- (If you are using frozen spinach, begin at step 4, with thawed, chopped spinach.) Pull the spinach leaves from the stems, discarding all stems. Soak the spinach in a basin of cold water, dunking it with your hands several times. Lift out the spinach and pour out the water and grit that will have settled on the bottom of the bowl. Repeat the process until no grit accumulates.
- Cook the spinach in a skillet or wok over medium heat with a pinch of salt and no more water than is still clinging to the leaves. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes, depending on how young and fresh the spinach is.
- Drain well and as soon as the spinach is cool enough to handle, press out as much of the remaining liquid as you can, but do not squeeze too tightly. Chop the spinach rather fine and set it aside.
- Choose a skillet that can contain all the spinach later without overcrowding. Put in 2 tablespoons butter, and turn the heat to medium high. When the butter is melted add the spinach and a liberal 2 or 3 pinches of salt. (Bear in mind that this, along with the ricotta, will be the principal component of the sauce. The ricotta has no salt, so the spinach must be adequately seasoned.) Saute the spinach for 2 minutes or so, turning it frequently, then turn off the heat.
- Drop the pasta into a pot of abundant boiling salted water. Cook until tender but firm to the bite. (about 10 minutes for Barilla. If you are using another brand of dried pasta, follow instructions on box) Drain the pasta and transfer it to the skillet with the spinach. Add the ricotta, remaining butter and grated cheese. Mix thoroughly and serve immediately.
adapted from Marcella Hazan, More Classic Italian Cooking