Dana Joy Altman ( http://www.realfoodrehab.com ): I learned this recipe from a chef who I once worked with at a supper club. He used to serve it at our family-style staff meals (so you know it's hearty AND delicious!). It's quick-and-easy to prepare and all for under $10, but your friends and family will think otherwise. From the creamy ricotta to the smoky bacon to the bite of the lemon zest, this dish is all about sophistication. It's the perfect answer to an impromptu date night or a great way to spice up your weekday dinner rut. Give it a try and let me know what you think. Happy cooking!
1 lb (140 g) short pasta like rigatoni, orecchiette or fusili
4 slices bacon
1 medium white onion cut into a large dice
1 bunch rapini, also known as broccoli rabe, ends cut and full stalks chopped into 1 inch (2.5 cm) lengths
1 cup (230 g) fresh ricotta
fresh grated lemon zest (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
Boil a big pot of water with salt and throw pasta in. Time for four minutes less than suggested cooking time.
Put a large heatproof serving bowl in the oven at the lowest heat setting.
In a skillet, fry up bacon until crisp, remove from pan and drain onto paper towels, chop or crumble into half inch pieces. Leave about 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of bacon fat in pan, discard the rest.
Saute the onion in the bacon fat until soft and translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Set aside.
When you have 3-4 minutes left for your pasta to cook, add the broccoli rabe to the pasta water and blanche until bright green. Make sure the pasta is al dente and not more. Reserve 1/2 cup (120 mL) of pasta water and set aside.
Drain pasta and broccoli rabe into a colander. Then, remove the warm serving bowl from the oven and mix together onion and remaining bacon fat, chopped bacon, ricotta cheese, freshly grated lemon zest and a couple tablespoons of pasta water to desired consistency. Toss in pasta and rabe. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with side salad.
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