Spring forms – not just for cheesecake anymore.
A good friend of mine sent me this recipe a couple weeks back and I’ve been dreaming about it ever since. It’s basically a big, happy, pasta pie – and I wanted a slice. So in the spirit of happy things like pasta and Springtime – I decided to whip up a pasta pie chocked full of spring vegetables like asparagus, peas and ramps. It was especially comforting on a not-so spring like cold and rainy day (or maybe that is Spring-y? April showers do bring May flowers after all…)
What you’ll need:
1/4 cup butter + more for buttering pan
1/4 cup flour
4 cups milk
freshly grated nutmeg
1 lb. rigatoni
1 lb. asparagus
1 lb. fresh peas (or frozen if fresh are not available)
8 oz. ricotta
8 oz. fresh mozzarella
zest from 1 lemon
2 cups grated Parmesan
Trim asparagus and coat with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes until tender and slightly crisp. Once cooked cut into 2 inch pieces and place in a large bowl. Cook peas in the salted boiling water for about 2 minutes. Drain and set aside in the same bowl. Cook pasta in the same water until just under al dente. Drain and place in bowl with the peas and asparagus. Cut the fresh mozzarella into small cubes and place in bowl as well.
As for the ramps, clean well and cut into 2 inch segments – saute in olive oil and butter. Season and set aside in bowl with other ingredients.Join the ricotta, lemon zest, a dash of salt and olive oil in a separate bowl. Mix to combine.
For the sauce – a cheesy bechamel – melt the butter in a pot (or for extra flavor and less dishes use the same saute pan used for the ramps) over medium heat. Once it’s melted sprinkle in the flour. Whisk for a minute or two to cook. Slowly whisk in the milk making sure there are no clumps of flour/butter. Bring up to a gentle boil while whisking. Allow the sauce to get thick, stirring often so not to burn – 5-8 minutes. Season the sauce well with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Add 1 cup of Parmesan, mix well. Pour the sauce over the pasta and veg. Mix well. Layer half of the pasta mixture in the prepared spring form pan. Gently press down on the mixture to pack well. Next spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the pasta. Layer in the second half of pasta. Top with a healthy sprinkle of parm and bake for 30 minutes until the top is nicely browned. Let rest for 30 minutes before releasing the spring form and digging in.Now tell me, who’s going to say no to a piece of this pie?