Mother's Day Pasta Sampler

My mom loves pasta and Tuscany and this trio of pasta dishes are a tribute to a place called Acqua all'Due in Florence (they have a sister[ restaurant in San Diego as well). The chef, Stefano, uses vegetable purees to dress pasta starters. I'm sure his mama is well fed and that his are tastier than mine, but this is the best I can come up with, without a plane ticket.]

Total Time:
30 min
Prep:
10 min
Cook:
20 min

Yield:
6 servings
Level:
Easy

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 pounds bow tie pasta
  • Pasta with Peas:
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock, plus more if needed
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 (10-ounce) box frozen peas
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese
  • 10 leaves fresh basil, torn or shredded
  • A handful mint leaves, finely chopped
  • Pasta with Carrots:
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 (10-ounce) box frozen cooked carrots or baby carrots
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • A few dashes hot sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
  • Pasta with Peppers:
  • 1 (16-ounce) jar roasted yellow or red peppers, drained (about 5 to 6 peppers)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
  • A handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, to taste
Directions

Heat a large pot of water to a boil, salt liberally and cook pasta to al dente.

While pasta cooks, you will need 3small skillets set up and a food processor near by. Set up 3 serving dishes that would hold half a pound of pasta each on a counter near the stove.

In first skillet, melt butter with olive oil over medium heat, add onion, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and sweat 5 to 6 minutes. Add stock and zest and bring to a boil. Add peas, season with salt and pepper and heat through, about 2 minutes. Put in food processor and process until a smooth sauce forms and transfer to a bowl, fold in fresh ricotta, basil and mint with rubber spatula, adjust seasoning salt. When pasta is ready, add a ladle of pasta water or chicken stock, if needed and 1/3 of the pasta to the bowl. Toss the pasta with sauce.

In the second skillet while peas are cooking, add chicken stock, carrots, curry powder, hot sauce, salt and pepper, to taste, honey and butter. Bring to a boil and let simmer to heat through, 10 minutes.

While carrots are cooking, grind roasted peppers into a paste. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in third pan over medium-low heat and saute the garlic and red pepper, stir in ground peppers and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Rinse processor bowl and return to base to grind the carrots when they are tender. When peppers are hot, stir in balsamic vinegar and parsley and let simmer over low heat. Stir in starchy cooking liquid or stock, scrape sauce into serving dish and coat 1/3 of the pasta and cheese.

Grind carrots into a smooth paste and transfer to a serving dish. Thin carrot sauce with starchy liquid or stock and toss with remaining half pound of pasta and chives.

*Cook's Note: Each of the 3 sauces will require a ladle of starchy cooking liquid taken just before draining pasta or chicken stock, optional.


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