Thursday, April 9, 2015

Usher in Spring with Pasta Primavera and Lemon Ricotta Cake

Begin each day with a little courage, a little curiosity and a little spring in your step.

Doe Zantamata, author, artist, photographer
Seasonal Plate
Primavera means "spring" in Italian. In this recipe the name refers to the crunchy and colorful mélange of vegetables in a creamy pasta dish. Be creative and use your favorite spring veggies or those suggested in the recipe. Substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth if you want a vegetarian dish. Roasted vegetables give the dish a more intense flavor. Any variety of pasta can be used when making this dish. For advance prep chop veggies ahead and refrigerate until needed. Chicken or salmon can be added to the dish. Suggested wine pairings include: Pinot Grigio, Italian Soave or Viognier.
The recipe serves 4.

Pasta Primavera 
Ingredients: Suggested veggie options: Use 1 cup of each for a total of 7 cups
  • cherry tomatoes (cut in half), green beans, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, summer squash, artichokes, red and yellow peppers, carrots, sweet onions and mushrooms 
  • 1/4 cup each fresh chopped basil and parsley or 1 TB. herbes de Provence or 1tsp. each dried basil and parsley
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper 
  • 1/2 TB. lemon juice
  • 2 TB. Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Tuscan Herb or Garlic Olive Oil
  • 8 oz. pasta e.g. fettuccine, linguine, vermicelli, penne or spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream at room temperature
  • 2 TB. flour
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts 
  • Heat oven to 425 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Toss cut up vegetables with 2 TB. olive oil and 1/2 TB. lemon juice, add in garlic, sprinkle with herbs and season with salt and pepper. Spread on baking sheet.
  • Roast vegetable mixture for 20-25 minutes until tender (al dente). Toss once during roasting time. 
  • While vegetables are roasting cook pasta al dente and drain. In same pot combine cooked pasta and roasted vegetables. Cover to keep warm.
  • In a saucepan whisk wine and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook 5 minutes.
  • In a small bowl whisk flour and whipping cream together, add to broth mixture. Cook cream mixture over low heat until thick adding in 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese at a time. Cook about 2-4 minutes.
  • Pour sauce over warmed vegetables and pasta. Toss gently to coat. Serve immediately and sprinkle with pine nuts and fresh-snipped basil. 
Lemon Ricotta Cake 
Lemon Ricotta Cake with Almond Glaze would be a perfect addition to your spring brunch or dinner. Ricotta makes the cake extra moist and almond extract adds a subtle flavor. The cake bursts with flavor using fresh lemon zest and juice.
Recipe from adapted from

Cake Ingredients:
  • 1½ cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 TB. lemon zest
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese at room temperature
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. almond extract
Almond Glaze Ingredients:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2TB. lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. almond extract
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 2 TB. sliced almonds, for topping
Cake Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray.
  • In a medium bowl whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. Set aside.
  • Cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in the eggs and beat until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add the ricotta, lemon juice, vanilla, and almond extract. Beat on medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, about 2 minutes.
  • With the mixer on low speed, add in the flour mixture and beat until combined, 1-2 minutes. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes and then remove from pan to cool completely before glazing.
Glaze Directions:
  • Whisk together the powdered sugar, lemon juice, almond extract, and lemon zest in a medium bowl. 
  • Spoon the glaze over the top of cooled cake. Sprinkle with sliced almonds. Let glaze set for a few minutes before serving. 
  • A blueberry topping would be an option to the lemon glaze.
Bon Appetit!

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