Last night for supper I made a pasta dish with leeks and mushrooms and some ricotta cheese and pine nuts. It was super easy to cook (though 3 hands would have been handy as I just caught the pine nuts while I was toasting them in a dry pan), filled our tummies while staying light and not stodgy. There comes a point in Winter where I start to crave lighter Springtime meals.
This really takes very little time to cook, the leeks are cooked while the water for the pasta comes to the boil, and then the mushrooms are sauteed while the pasta simmers.
Ingredients for two
a couple of leeks
a handful of oyster mushrooms
olive oil – a splash
salt and pepper – for seasoning
pine nuts – a small handful
ricotta cheese – just a couple of desert spoons
un-salted butter – a knob (walnut sized)
Put a big pan of water for the pasta on the heat and bring to the boil.
While this is heating up, chop the leeks and really wash them thoroughly. I slice the green of the leeks really finely, just a few mm’s and then cut the white thicker, about 1 cm.
Heat a splash of olive oil in a pan and tip in the washed leeks. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes before adding a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Using a citrus zester, grate in the zest of an un-waxed lemon.
If the leeks stick at all add a little vegetable stock or water from the pasta pan.
Once the water boils, add the pasta.
Melt some unsalted butter into another pan and add the lightly torn oyster mushrooms (I used oyster mushrooms as they have such a light and delicate flavour), sautee gently.
In yet another pan (okay there is a bit of washing up with this dish but it tastes very nice and washing up is always quicker to do than you realise) add the pine nuts and gently toast, keep an eye on them as you don;t want them to burn.
Check that the pasta is cooked to your liking, drain. While the pasta cools a little, turn the heat off from the leeks and stir in a couple of spoonfuls of ricotta cheese.
Tip the pasta into the leeks and ricotta, stir, and put onto your plates.
Arrange the oyster mushrooms on top and then scatter with the toasted pine nuts.
If you are vegan then saute the mushrooms in a little olive oil rather than butter. Instead of ricotta cheese finely grind the pine nuts with some cashew nuts, add a little unsweetened apple juice and stir well, (or pulse if you have a blender) so you have a thick nut cream. Add this to the cooked leeks before stirring in the pasta. It doesn’t taste exactly the same but is still very nice and light tasting)
The plates I use are what I think of as my hobbit plates (I think they look like the plates at Bag End in the Lord of The Rings/ The Hobbit films)…. they are made by my favourite potter, Robin Dauncey.