Do you ever sometimes crave those delicious – and really bad! – foods from when you were little? Zebra cakes, corn dogs, Oreo blizzards from DQ? Is it just me? Should I not have admitted that sometimes a can of Orange Crush hits the spot better than anything else?
In that vein, while we’re still on all things lemony, yellowy and good, I thought this week was the perfect time to make mac and cheese for grown-ups, also known as lemon ricotta pasta. First found on The Kitchn a few years ago, I’ve modified this recipe just a bit to include more pepper, more basil and more lemon. While Kraft Easy Mac may recall happy memories, the bland taste of its fake cheese can recoil the stomach. This bright and seasonal dish is a punched up mac and cheese for grown-ups. Lemony, yellowy, and, if I do say so myself, really, really good.
. One small tub of cottage cheese
. One small tub of ricotta cheese
. One lemon
. Small shaped pasta (I like shells or oriechette best)
. 1/4 cup of basil leaves, to taste
. Freshly grated parm
. A few glugs of EVOO
. Lots of salt and pepper
1. Boil the water for the pasta, and when it’s rolling, add noodles.
2. Put one cup of ricotta, one cup of cottage cheese, the EVOO, and the zest and juice of the entire lemon into a food processor or blender and zoom zoom! The original recipe calls for all ricotta, but I like the smoothness cottage cheese adds to this dish. Plus, ricotta can feel a bit heavy (hello too much lasagna!) and for me, summer is all about keeping it light!
3. Place the heavenly blend from the food processor into a metal bowl and heat it over the pasta water as it cooks. Should this not loosen the cheese mixture enough (as dictated by the original recipe) you can give it a quick zap. While it would be ideal for everything to turn out perfectly, sometimes it doesn’t, and it’s okay to utilize your friend the microwave to get this cheese to the perfect, melty consistency.
4. Once the pasta is done, mix the cheese blend in, and top with the parm, salt, pepper, and basil. When I serve this dish warm, as intended, I chiffonade my basil into long thin strips. The next day, it makes an excellent cold pasta salad, and I throw in whole basil leaves instead, plus tomato, mushroom, and anything else fresh that catches my eye.