Pasta with Ricotta & Capers

Capers, the tiny, tangy buds of blossoming plants, have a permanent place in a Sicilian kitchen.Their piquant, briny flavors add personality to a variety of dishes, such as, veal picatta, summer spaghetti, tuna bruschette and of course Sicilian caponata.

You’ll find capers in most markets either packed in salt or submerged in vinegar. I prefer those tightly packed in sea salt because they taste more like capers and less like vinegar. Also, size matters, as the smaller buds have a more delicate flavor. True Italian capers are actually sorted by millimeter with mechanized screens. They range from 7-16 millimeters. Larger ones have less flavor and could be frauds. The buds of the nasturtium plant is similar-looking and is often passed off as capers.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup salt-packed capers
  • 12 ounces rotini or other short pasta¬†
  • 3/4 pound ricotta
  • 3/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
  1. Rinse the capers and then soak in cold water for 10 minutes. Rinse again.
  2. Cook the pasta. While pasta is cooking, heat ricotta and milk in a sauce pan over medium-low heat, stirring until blended and warmed through.
  3. Add the capers and season generously with black pepper. Remove from heat.
  4. When the pasta is ready, drain and return to pot and immediately toss with the olive oil.  Stir in the ricotta sauce and over medium heat, continue to stir for a minute or two to heat the sauce and coat the pasta. Season with salt if needed.
  5. To serve, spoon into shallow bowls and sprinkle with rosemary and a few grinds of black pepper.

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