Wild garlic and ricotta give a twist to simple pasta. This is a very simple recipe which will look and taste great without hours of effort. You'll need to make the ricotta a few hours ahead of eating it. The rest of the recipe of very quick to assemble The quantities serve about 4.
2.27l (4 pint container) whole milk
65ml lemon juice (1 or 2 lemons depending on juiciness)
Salt to taste
Put your milk into a large (you'll need to stir) heavy bottomed (you need to heat without burning) pan.
Heat the milk on a medium heat until just before it boils (75-90C). Stir gently to make sure the milk doesn't catch on the bottom of the pan.
Take of the heat and add the lemon juice. Stir so the lemon juice is fully mixed in. The milk will 'split'.
Stop stirring and leave the milk to cool.
Once cool strain the contents into a container through a sieve, colander, cheesecloth or muslin. You'll want to allow this to drain for an hour or so.
The solids that are left is your ricotta, add salt to taste. You'll have around 200ml or more depending on the protein content of the milk.
The liquid that is left (whey) can be used in baking biscuits or bread.
Ricotta Post Script
I've played with the method for ricotta again as, to be honest, I was a bit disappointed with the yield using the lemon juice. I think it's possible that the acidity of the lemons varies according to type, age, season etc. So I've now used 100ml of white wine vinegar. Instead of 250g of ricotta, I got over 500g. Much better.
If you use distilled white vinegar, you would end up with less taste in the finished product. That said, the vinegar taste is not strong.
The other thing to make sure is that the milk is heated properly. This helps the proteins in the milk break down and form the curds.
So top tips: make sure you have the acidity right and heat the milk high enough without boiling.
I kept this simple because I didn't want to take away from the taste of the ricotta and wild garlic.
1 large onion finely chopped
2 400g tins of chopped tomatoes (or use 1.5kg fresh tomatoes skinned seeded and chopped)
A few dried tomatoes, chopped if large (I used a handful of our own dehydrated cherry tomatoes)
Gently fry the onion in some oilve oil until soft and transparent.
Add the tomatoes & dried tomatoes stir & simmer until thickened to a light coating consistency - about 30-45 minutes.
Wild garlic ricotta
Ricotta (made above)
A small bunch of wild garlic (Allium ursinum). Please make sure you have identified the wild garlic properly! If in doubt see below.
Slice the wild garlic finely into thin slivers about 1-2cm long.
Fold through the ricotta gently.
Check seasoning and alter if needed.
Cook pasta & serve
Cook the pasta of your choice until al dente, strain and return to the pan.
Tip in the tomato sauce and mix gently until the pasta is fully coated.
Arrange the pasta artistically or rustically in serving bowls.
Garnish with a generous dollop of wild garlic ricotta.
Carl Legge lives on the Llyn Peninsula in Wales on a permaculture smallholding and writes a regular blog full of delicious recipes and more. He is currently writing The Permaculture Kitchen, a book of seasonal, local, home-grown delicious recipes for Permanent Publications, the book publishing arm of Permaculture magazine.