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.
- 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
- Rinse the capers and then soak in cold water for 10 minutes. Rinse again.
- 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.
- Add the capers and season generously with black pepper. Remove from heat.
- 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.
- To serve, spoon into shallow bowls and sprinkle with rosemary and a few grinds of black pepper.