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«I wrote this for Beth and Howard Stern as a thank you note,» says Rach. Howard, whom she says is a very talented artist in addition to being an incredible interviewer, has gifted her and John various pieces of his art over the years. As a small token of their appreciation, Rach recently sent him this handwritten recipe. It’s a very simple pasta—short-cut noodles tossed with a creamy, herby ricotta mixture and topped with a fresh tomato-basil sauce—but she calls the combination «phenomenally delicious.» Most importantly, she says, «I hope you and your family make it with all the love it was created with.»
Pro Tip from Rach: If you thought you had to wait until summer to make a fresh tomato sauce, here’s what Rach has to say about that: «The thing I love about cocktail, or Campari or cherry tomatoes is that they have sugar and this deep tomato flavor and they’re available year-round. So, you don’t have to wait for tomato season to make a fresh tomato sauce!»
For more pasta recipes from Rach, check out her Pasta con Poblano and Pasta with Pumpkin and Sage.
- 4 cups packed fresh spinach, tough stems removed, OR 12 ounces chopped frozen spinach, defrosted2 tablespoons EVOO2 tablespoons butter2 large cloves garlic, chopped or grated1 pound cocktail tomatoes or Campari tomatoes, quarteredSaltA handful of fresh basil, torn1 ½ cups fresh ricotta cheese¼ cup mascarpone or cream1 cup chopped herbs: parsley, dill, thyme and chivesBlack or red pepper1 pound reginetti or short-cut mafaldeGrated Parmigiano-Reggiano, to pass at table
If using fresh spinach, bring 3 quarts water to boil, salt it and wilt spinach 1 minute, then drain and rinse to cool, pat dry and chop. Or, if using defrosted frozen spinach, wring dry in dish towel. Refill pot with 5 quarts water and bring to boil for pasta.
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In a deep skillet over medium heat, add EVOO, 2 turns of the pan. Add butter and melt, then add garlic and swirl a minute. Add tomatoes, season with salt and soften 8 to 10 minutes until slumped. Wilt in basil and reduce heat to low.
In a bowl, combine spinach, ricotta, cream, herbs, salt and black or red pepper and stir.
Salt boiling water and cook pasta 1 minute less than package directions. Just before draining, add ½ cup of the boiling salted pasta water to ricotta and ½ cup to sauce. Toss drained pasta with ricotta mixture. Serve family style or in individual shallow bowls and top with fresh tomato sauce.