Now that spring (summer?) is really here, I've been wanting more fresh things to eat. I also just moved and wanted to break in the new kitchen. And a friend from out of town visited and gave me a perfect excuse to make dinner. SO: I opened up the bookmarks and poked around.
Everything for this recipe is easy to find, minus the Ricotta Salata. I substituted goat cheese (crumbled) and it worked well, so do not despair if you can't find the right cheese. As a bonus, everything except the cheese is also cheap.
This recipe also tastes even better the next day, and it tastes good cold, which is bonus-good because a pound of pasta is enough for lots of leftovers. And it's easy to make. Do you need more reasons to try it? Fine: caramelized onions. LEEKS. Now go!
Rigatoni with Five Lilies and Ricotta Salata
Adapted from The Babbo Cookbook and the San Francisco Chronicle
Stolen from Orangette
3 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb. sweet onions, such as Walla Walla or Vidalia, cut in half from stem to root and then into ¼-inch slices
2 Tbs unsalted butter
5 medium garlic cloves, minced
½ lb. leeks, cut into 1/8-inch rings and washed
½ lb. red onions, quartered and sliced
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
½ cup water
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1 lb. rigatoni
4 oz. ricotta salata, coarsely grated (or whatever cheese you can find)
¼ cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 small handful chives, finely chopped
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
Lemon wedges, optional
In a large (12- to 14-inch) skillet, warm the olive oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add the sweet onions, and reduce the heat. Cook over medium-low, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent; then raise the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until deeply golden and caramelized. Remove the pan from the heat, and transfer the onions to a bowl. Set aside.
In the same skillet, heat the butter over medium heat. When it has stopped foaming and is thoroughly melted, add the garlic, leeks, red onion, and scallions, and cook, stirring regularly, until very soft and golden. Add the water, and cook until the liquid evaporates. Season lightly with salt. Remove from the heat, and stir in the sweet onions.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the rigatoni until tender but al dente. In the last minute of cooking, return the onion mixture to medium-high heat. Drain the pasta, add it to the onion mixture, and toss over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and toss more, if necessary, to thoroughly disperse the onions amidst the pasta. Serve immediately, topped with plenty of ricotta salata and sprinklings of parsley and chives. Salt as needed, and finish with a quick squeeze of lemon, if you like.
Yield: 4 servings