Thursday, February 22, 2007

Conchiglie with Ricotta and Rocket

This is the prettiest dish as well as tasting great. The fat creamy conchiglie shells are coated with the pale green flecked sauce a little like pesto but the taste is creamy from the cheese and prickly spicy from the chilli and rocket. Shaped to resemble conch shells conghiglie hold the sauce in the hollow and catch extra in the grooves down the outside. They are quite elegant in appearance and work very well in pasta salads. This dish works very well hot or cold. The recipe is from the River Cafe Pocket Book of Pasta - a book that is becoming a serious favourite.

Conchiglie with Rocket and Ricotta

350g Conchiglie
200g ricotta, lightly beaten with a fork
500g rocket, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed
3 tbs basil leaves, torn
3 fresh red chillis deseeded and chopped fine
150g Parmesan, freshly grated
Extra virgin olive oil

Heat 2 tbs olive oil in a small heavy based pan. Add the garlic and fry until it begins to colour. Add the basil and half the rocket. Cover, reduce the heat and cook for 2-3 minutes to just wilt the leaves. Off the heat pulse chop this mixture with a hand blender. Add half of the remaining rocket, the chillies, seasoning and 2 tbs olive oil. Blend briefly to combine.

Cook the conchiglie in boiling salted water till al dente, ladle out a little of the pasta water and keep to one side, then drain the pasta. Add the rocket mixture to the pasta then lightly stir in the ricotta and the remaining uncooked rocket. If the sauce is too stiff add the reserved water till you get the desired consistency.

Serve with a drizzle of oil and a sprinkle of Parmesan.

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