Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Mario Batali's Pennette with Summer Squash and Ricotta
It's been two days since I stepped off the Carnival Glory. And still, the floor won't stop rocking.
This made for a pretty interesting experience on the stationary bike yesterday when, every two minutes, I became absolutely sure that the room had tilted on some kind of axis and screamed that everyone in the room should "Man the decks!" and "Head for the lifeboats!".
My fellow bicyclists were not pleased with me. Although the treadmillers barely turned their heads. (It is New York after all. When in doubt - avert your eyes.)
We had a pretty rocky last night, you see. Heavy winds, strong downpours, lightning, thunder.
But don't worry. We coped by dancing. Drinking. Breaking into the ship's spa in search of an open hot tub at 4AM.
We were trying to be rational in an irrational situation. Because if the room is going to spin whether you're sober or not, you might as well not be. (Yes, this is how the future doctors of American think. Be afraid. Be very afraid.)
And so now I'm pretty sure that this persistent rocking that I'm experiencing is not actually landsickness but some form of alcohol withdrawal. Nice.
But wait. This sort of talk warrants an explanation.
Hence the question - how does one end up on a cruise to St. John, New Brunswick with somewhere around eighty-five of her fellow MD/PhD students, the head of the MD/PhD program, and his administrative assistant?
Funny you should ask. You see, every year in order to get NIH funding we need to go on some sort of a retreat. Usually student run, it involves putting us all in the same place at the same time while we give presentations about our research for two days straight. And bond. There is a lot of bonding.
Normally, this occurs at a conference center somewhere on Long Island or in upstate New York. To which we are asked never to return when we are caught skinny dipping in the conference center's pool at midnight/found drunk on the floor in the hallway outside our rooms/involved in some other form of ridiculously promiscuous behavior.
Having exhausted our conference center resources in the tri-state area, the program coordinator decided that so long as we were going to take part in such debauchery, she might as well plan to have the retreat somewhere where such behavior would go unnoticed.
And that was how I ended up on a five day/four night cruise to Canada. That was also how I ended up having more fun than I think I've had all year. MD/PhDs are just awesome. Amazing people. I love them.
The one place where the cruise was lacking in excellence, was in the food department. I'm not sure what kind of a person it takes to mess up a caprese salad. But they did it. And so when I got home, all I wanted was to eat something delicious. This pasta dish, from Mario Batalli's Molto Gusto. Was so. It. Pasta with zucchini and mint tossed in a creamy ricotta sauce. Local, fresh ricotta mind you. Ricotta so tasty that I will never be able to go back to the tubbed version ever again.
Now this. This is what should have been served to us in the hot tub at 3AM. And yes. I will be writing that in my comment card.
Remember to send me your recipes for Regional Recipes: PUERTO RICO by the end of August!
Pennette with Summer Squash and Ricotta
Serves 4, adapted from Mario Batalli's Molto Gusto
12 oz whole wheat penne
1 cup ricotta
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2-3 tbsp warm water
4 summer squash/zucchini, sliced lengthwise and then crosswise into half moons
1/2 cup mint, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup reserved pasta water
1. Set the water for the pasta to boil. Make sure to add plenty of salt to it. Batalli recommends 3 tbsp.
2. Whisk the ricotta together with the 2 tbsp olive oil. Whisk in the parmesan cheese. Whisk in the water, adding 2 tbsp at first and then adding a third only if you want a more smooth, spreadable consistency. Set aside.
3. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add in the zucchini and saute for 4-5 minutes or until soft. Meanwhile, hopefully your water is boiling by now. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until just al dente. Drain the pasta, first reserving a 1/3 cup of pasta water.
4. Add the pasta and the reserved water to the pan with the zucchini. Mix well. Cover and reduce heat to low. Steam together for 2 minutes.
5. Stir in the mint. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
6. Pour into serving bowls and top each with a dollop of the ricotta mixture.
This is my submission to Presto Pasta Nights, which is being hosted by the ever lovely Amy of Very Culinary. I adore her. You should send her a recipe. With pasta in it.
I am also sending this to Two For Tuesdays! Local ricotta, local summer squash, local mint...all REAL FOOD.