Pasta Pom and Popovers

I’ve made this recipe so many times I’ve lost count, and was actually surprised to discover that I hadn’t written it up on the blog before. It is a good way to use up that extra bit of ricotta you’ve neglected in the fridge, its remaining ingredients are all pantry staples, and the sauce takes no more time to cook than the pasta, so it is a particularly good recipe to have in the arsenal for those days when you’re looking around the kitchen at dinnertime, scratching your head and trying to figure out what to sling together (or maybe that’s just me!).

I’ve made it alternately with orecchiette, fusili, and these radiattore, and usually serve with some sort of bread for my bread fiend to dunk in the sauce. On this occasion, I went with parmesan popovers and garlic butter, as a quick take on garlic bread. They were alright, but the garlic butter really seemed to make all the difference, because I found the plain popovers on the bland side.

Pasta Pomodoro e Ricotta

3/4 lb. pasta (orecchiette, fusilli, or radiattore work well)
14 1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 T tomato paste
1 T chopped fresh basil, or 1 tsp dried basil
6 oz. ricotta
salt and pepper, to taste

Boil pasta, as described on the package. Meanwhile, place the diced tomatoes and tomato paste in a medium sauce pan. Add the the ricotta and puree with a stick blender until the sauce is smooth (or alternately, combine the tomatoes, paste, and ricotta in a blender and puree before pouring in the sauce pan), and heat through, allowing the cheese to melt and combine with the tomatoes. Add the basil, and salt and pepper to taste. If desired, throw in a handful of baby spinach and let it just wilt from the heat of the sauce; a handful of frozen peas stirred in at the end would be another nice alternative.

When the pasta is ready, spoon it on a plate and top with the tomato sauce. Sprinkle with additional basil, ground pepper, or parmesan.

Source: Slightly adapted from Accidental Hedonist.

Parmesan Popovers

1 C AP flour
2 extra-large eggs
1 C whole milk
2/3 C parmesan
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp herbs de Provence

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a blender, combine all ingredients. Blend on medium speed until combined. Spray a muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray. Pour the batter into the muffin cups, filling each cup 3/4 full. Bake until puffed and golden brown, about 40 minutes. Remove popovers from pan, and cut a slit in the top of each one to allow excess steam to escape, which will keep them from getting soggy. (As an added bonus, slather the insides of the popovers with garlic butter while they’re warm. I make mine with unsalted butter, lots of pan-roasted garlic—toast the cloves in a dry, hot skillet with their skins still on, until the skins brown up in spots, then flatten them with the side of your knife, remove the skins and mash them—some grated parmesan, a good pinch of salt, and a little paprika for color.)

Source: Adapted from Epicurious and Everyday Italian.

Update 11/19/11: I made Gruyere popovers to go with quinoa-stuffed delicata squash for dinner tonight, and made a few slight adjustments for the altitude, which worked out very successfully: Increase oven temperature to 400F; increase milk by 1/4 C, increase eggs to 3, exchange Gruyere for Parmesan; fill muffin cups to half full and bake for about 25 minutes. Do not open oven door before 18 minutes; if necessary, check progress with oven light only. My dad said these reminded him of sopapillas, lol!

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