Leek, Spinach and Tomato Pasta with Home-made Ricotta

Home-made Ricotta is  so easy, I had no idea. This recipe makes 4 cups. For a tasty vegan variation using Firm Tofu and italian spices, click here.

1 gallon whole milk ($3.49)

1/4 cup lemon juice (1 lemon, $.25)

kosher salt, to taste ($1.19)

Over medium heat, warm the milk and lemon juice in a stainless-steel pot until the curds separate and steam begins to rise from the pot and you see the mixture coming to a  gentle simmer (Do NOT boil).

Line a colander with a few layers of cheesecloth. Gently ladle the mixture onto the cheesecloth. Tie the cheesecloth around your kitchen faucet.  Let hang for 3 hours. Remove from cheesecloth, and season with salt to taste.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or use immediately in your favorite pasta recipe.

Homemade Ricotta

This was a quick weekend dinner idea, well except for the 3 hours it took to make the fresh Ricotta (if you make a batch ahead of time, you’ll have it on hand to use):

pasta shells ($1.00)

2 whole tomatoes (from Larriland $.87)

1 leek (also from the farm $.50)

1 onion ($.27)

1/4 cup of frozen spinach ($.29)

3 cloves of garlic, minced ($.07)

1 Tblsp extra virgin olive oil ($.15)

a splash of balsamic vinegar ($.09) – optional

Boil the pasta on medium high heat for ~10 minutes. Drain, rinse and set aside.

Sautee in olive oil over medium high heat, the onion, garlic, leeks spinach and tomatoes – cook until all of the ingredients have caramelized ~12 minutes.

Add the balsamic vingear to the pan, stir and using the spoon – scrape the brown caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan – add the cooked pasta shells and mix well to incorporate all of the vegetables in with the pasta.

Serves ~7