Sunday, August 28, 2011

Savory Sides

I absolutely love these two vegetable dishes, and they pair wonderfully even though one is of Italian origin and the other is Turkish. They are hearty enough to stand alone, yet they were terrific with the salmon that I made them with, and would also be delicious with grilled chicken or roasted lamb. They are light enough for a summer picnic, but offer a robustness that would surely warm your core on a cold winter evening. Finally, they can both be made ahead - in fact that is recommended to allow the flavors to meld and the dressings to penetrate the vegetables - so they are both great together or alone to take to a friend's or have ready in advance for a party.


Zucchini Salad as inspired by and adapted from Donatella Arpaia's mother
serves 8 as a side

3/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
30 fresh mint leaves, finely sliced

Olive oil, for frying
4 medium zucchini, sliced cross-wise into 1/4-inch rounds

1/4 cup ricotta salata (or feta as a substitute)

Whisk together marinade ingredients and place in a medium bowl or casserole dish.
In a large skillet over medium-high, heat about 1/4 inch of olive oil until hot but not smoking. Working in batches if necessary, slide the zucchini slices into the skillet in a single layer. Do not crowd the skillet. Fry, turning the slices often with a fork, for 7 minutes, or until golden and flecked with dark spots, careful not to allow the oil to smoke or burn.
As the zucchini slices finish frying, transfer them to the marinade. Let the zucchini marinate for at least an hour, up to four hours.
To serve, drain excess marinade, transfer to serving platter, and sprinkle with shaved (or grated) ricotta salata cheese.

I read this stewed eggplant recipe reprinted in the Seattle Times. Because I was making it together with the zucchini above, to take to a dinner party at a friend's house, I actually started the day before by cubing, salting, washing, and draining the eggplant, and chopping the onions and tomates then storing them all separately in the fridge. The eggplant oxidized overnight, but since it was getting browned and cooked with so many other ingredients, I think it was a useful timesaver. I fried the zucchini first, and had enough oil in the pan afterwards to complete the eggplant recipe without needing any additional. It's possible that slightly impacted the flavor of my eggplant dish, but I don't think it was significant.
I cooked it up so that it was finished about two hours before we were going to eat it, and it travelled well. I saved the extra oil with herbs that were left in the skillet after transferring all the vegetables to the serving bowl, and it was delicious tossed with cous cous and drizzled on bread the next day.

Braised Eggplant
serves 8 as a side
1 large eggplant (about 1 pound)
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 large tomato, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
1/4 cup  golden raisins
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
Black pepper
1/2 cup roughly chopped dill
2 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley
Thick yogurt, for serving
Lemon wedges, for serving

Trim and peel the eggplant and cut in 1-inch cubes. Place in a colander and toss with salt. Let sit for 30 minutes to 3 hours, rinse well and squeeze to remove as much liquid as possible; do not break up cubes.

In a large skillet or saucepan, heat 1/4 cup olive oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the eggplant cubes and move them around occasionally, until they are rather tender and somewhat browned, about 7 minutes. Remove from the pan with tongs and set aside, leaving as much oil as possible in the pan.

Add onions and pine nuts to pan and stir occasionally, until the onions are transparent and some pine nuts are lightly browned, 7 or 8 minutes.

Return eggplant to the pan with the tomato, raisins, sugar, cinnamon, cumin and pepper. Mix well, then turn heat to low. Cover the pan and cook until the eggplant is very tender but still in distinct pieces, about 30 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking, stirring once or twice, until the liquid is somewhat thickened, 5 to 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from heat and let sit uncovered until it is at room temperature, about 45 minutes. Stir in the dill and parsley, adjust the seasonings to taste and serve, accompanied by yogurt and lemon wedges for squeezing.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Chinese 5-Spice Chocolate Chiffon Cake

I first came across this recipe in Elinor Klivan's cookbook Chocolate Cakes and really liked the sound of it. Chocolate and 5-spice seem like a great combination for many purposes, and I'm sure I will try other opportunities to combine them, in cookies for example. But also in a smooth chocolate tart, or even by adding a bit of dark chocolate to a spiced savory sauce. I love how finding one unique recipe can start ideas flowing for lots of different types of dishes and experiments in the future.

I happen to love chiffon cakes anyway - to me they are a quintessential cake: light and spongey texture, but rich and flavorful. They are almost infinitely adaptable to different flavors from citrus or coffee to chocolate or nuts. They don't need to be frosted, but have a high, attractive shape perfect for parties and buffets. A simple glaze brings out even more taste punch and gives them a professional, finish look with very little effort.

I loved the concept of putting an exotic spice blend in a fluffy chocolate cake. The original recipe called for finely chopped chocolate to be mixed into the batter, but I didn't like the idea of pieces interfering with the texture, so instead I melted the chocolate and mixed it into the batter to give it more chocolately richness. You can try it either way. The 5-spice definitely lends a different taste profile to the cake, that might be unpleasant if you weren't expecting it, but if you know what it is, I think it's really delightful. And of course, anything covered in ganache is going to be good. The original also called for a sprinkling of spice across the glaze, which would be attractive, but I was unsure how much extra spice flavor I wanted, so I skipped it. Garnishing with a couple of cinnamon sticks or chocolate curls would be a nice touch for a more sophisticated presentation.

For the cake
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup canola or corn oil or other mild vegetable oil
7 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
6 ounces milk chocolate, melted

For the chocolate glaze
1/3 cup heavy (double) cream
1 teaspoon corn syrup
6 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a large bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, 1 cup of the sugar, the five spice powder, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Use a large spoon to make a well in the center of the flour mixture.

Add the oil, egg yolks, water, and vanilla to the well and combine the liquid ingredients, then gradually begin to draw in the flour ingredients. Switch to an electric mixer on medium speed and beat the mixture until smooth and thick, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the melted chocolate just until smooth.

In a large bowl using clean beaters, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on low speed until the whites are foamy and the cream of tartar dissolves. Increase the speed to medium and beat the egg whites until they look shiny and smooth and the beaters leave lines in the whites. When you stop the mixer and lift the beaters, the beaten whites should cling to them. Increase the speed to high and slowly beat in the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat until the whites form firm, glossy peaks, about 1 minute.

Use a rubber spatula to fold about 1/3 of the beaten whites into the yolk mixture, then gently fold in the remaining whites until no white streaks remain. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and gently smooth the top.

Bake at 325 until the top of the cake feels firm when lightly touched and any small cracks on the top look dry, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Invert the pan and let cool.

Make the chocolate glaze by heating the cream over low heat just until the cream is hot. Do not let the mixture boil. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in chocolate until melted and smooth. Stir in corn syrup and vanilla. Pour over the top of the cooled cake, bottom (flat) side up.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Peanut Butter Cookies

Fear not! This IS a post about cookies. But I'm going to take you there the long way... the same way I got there. It started with planning the menu for a weeknight dinner with one other couple. The weather was supposed to be warm and sunny, and we knew we wanted to grill. I decided to go with the bright hot-weather-inspired flavors of India with this Tandoori-Style Grilled Chicken and this fabulous curried cauliflower salad. (Note about the salad, this time I used toasted almonds instead of curried cashews and golden raisins instead of apricots, and added a red potato to the roasting cauliflower. I also skipped the step of the glaze and just tossed everything with the dressing. It's just as good!)

Another given - based on the weather and our very-short nice-days season in Seattle - was that I would make ice cream. To carry the dinner theme through to dessert, I selected a ginger recipe. I left out the pieces of candied ginger, not for flavor reasons, but because I like my ice cream smooth. If I was eating it plain, I might have sprinkled a few crumbles on top, like they do at Molly Moon's on their outrageous ginger hot fudge sundae (ginger ice cream, hot fudge, and candied ginger sprinkles... three simple-enough sounding ingredients making for an undeniable explosion of delight.)

But hot fudge sundaes weren't quite the right dessert for this time, and even the most incredible ice creams can stand good cookie partner. This is where I started to get creative. There were a number of ideas percolating, with the initial seed (or is it spice!) of inspiration coming from the garam masala oatmeal cookies I made back in May. A google search for garam masala cookie brought me to a couple of different sites with basically this same recipe for a vegan cookie that sounded pretty good to me. The recipe struck me for the simple list of ingredients, and the fact that there was no egg (obviously, since it's vegan.) But the omission of a primary ingredient found in most cookies reminded me of one of my favorite cookie recipes... C&H Unbelievable Peanut Butter Cookies which draw special attention to the fact that the recipe has no flour. A lot of curry sauces have peanut butter in them, so it was a short leap from there to think about morphing these two recipes into one for a garam masala-peanut butter cookie.

You could certainly just stir in some garam masala powder to your favorite  peanut butter cookie recipe, and I did with my 4-ingredient C&H recipe. YUM! But I also played around with ingredients to make a cookie and a shortbread. The shortbread was probably a bit more work then either of the cookies, but were super-good and fun for something a little different. The cookies are deliciously crunchy, and I love how the spice just gives it an exotic undertown without really being a stand-out flavor of its own. Besides revelling in the addictive nature of the sugary crunchiness, I also had the glory of creating my own recipe based on the ideas that came together from these various blog postings. I'm sure you will love them as much as I do, or maybe you'll feel brave enough to a little shot of spice innovation to your own favorite recipes.

Ovum-free peanut butter-garam masala cookies.

Notch-Up Peanut Butter Cookies 1/2 c butter
1/4 c peanut butter
1/2 c brown sugar
1 c flour
1 1/2 T granulated sugar
1/2 t baking soda
2 t garam masala
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/4 t salt

Whisk together flour, soda, spices, and salt. Cream butter, peanut butter and sugars until smooth. Stir in dry ingredients and beat until well-blended. Stir in vanilla. Bake at 375 for about 12 minutes until golden. Allow to cool on sheet for 2-3 minutes to set, then remove to rack and cool completely.

Peanut Butter Shortbread(note: the ingredients here are the same as above, just with the proportion of butter and peanut butter swapped!)
1/2 cup peanut butter (not "all natural")
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 t vanilla
1 1/2 t garam masala
1 cup flour
1/4 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t cinnamon

Cream butter, sugar, peanut butter. Stir in vanilla. Sift together flour, garam masala, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda, then add mixture to peanut butter mixture. It will be crumbly. Pat into a round and wrap in plastic wrap. Refridgerate at least two hours. Divide in half and pat dough into a 9" pie plate. Prick over with fork. Bake at 375 for 16-18 minutes, until golden and set. Cut into wedges or slices while hot, and allow to cool before removing from pan.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

If you think our government is divided...

I went back and forth with myself for days about whether or not to bother writing about this topic, because it is so divisive. It seems that the last thing any of us want or need right now - given the state of the economy and political wrangling - is more bickering and side-taking. And while I'm no professional journalist, I do still feel a pull of professional ethics to report on the latest developments in my kitchen, regardless of my personal bias.

What recipes could be causing me such a moral dilemma? I worry now to even state the topic, but I am duty-bound as a blogger to continue now that I have clicked "new post." I am writing of course, about brownies. Ne'er else since welfare and immigration has such a debate ensued than that over "chewy verses cakey" "fudgy verses chocolaty" "with nuts verses without." Things can get very ugly. Especially if opposing sides in the debate happen to comprise one side of a family unit.

I've tried many brownie recipes over the years, and I have to say "I'm still looking." I tried a recipe back in May and sometimes I go on a recipe-testing binge right after a disappointing experience so that I can immediately find a replacement. But with brownies, the task is so daunting and overwhelming that it felt completely unapproachable. So, when I saw one of the blogs I follow post her "top 10 brownie recipes" I was encouraged. I made the obvious choice of testing #1 on the list, which hails from the reknowned Baked bakery in Brooklyn and was sure I'd have a slam dunk.

Check out another blogger's photo that looks a lot more like how mine turned out than the photo from the site where I originally found the recipe.

I can't be too critical of these, because I took them to a large party and at least 6 people told me how much they enjoyed them. But they're still not my perfect go-to brownie. I want something that is chocolatey without being bitter, fudgey without being undercooked, and rich. It's not supposed to be chocolate cake, so it shouldn't require frosting in order to taste good. Will told me "these would be great with frosting!" which to me defeats the purpose. These had a bit of bitterness and a bit of cakiness. They were dense, and while they weren't dry, they seemed like perhaps they were a bit overdone, because they didn't have the "quintessential crackly top" about which the original blogger raved. It's also possible that I need to use a chocolate in the batter that I prefer the flavor of. Whatever the reason for the disappointment, I'm going to keep looking. And take this as a call out to you, fellow bakers, to send me your prized brownie recipe if you have one that you think aligns with my tastes. (I admit, I've been pretty impressed with the Ghiradelli "double chocolate" brownie mix in the past...)
Post your favorites in the comments here.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Secret Ingredient Summer Sauce

If you've been reading my posts for the past month or so, there's probably not much "secret" left in my "surprise ingredient" category. But if you try making these recipes for your own friends, there may still be some element of surprise when you turn with me once again to the wonders of balsamic vinegar.

Once I got balsamic in my head as a magic flavor enhancer spanning all classifications of foodstuffs, I started creating a list of recipes I wanted to try that incorporated its distinctive properties. One such was this Balsamic Custard Tart. I had all sorts of modifications in mind for how to use what else was fresh from the market (and use up what was languishing in the freezer) and what I ended up with was an angel food cake with balsamic custard sauce and balsamic-bing cherry compote.

Cherries are all over in Washington state right now, and they are beautiful and inexpensive. Like for the salmon a few posts ago, I simply chopped up a handful of fruit per person and let it steep overnight in a tiny amount of balsamic and a bit of brown sugar. The angel food cake was thanks to the ever-increasing number of egg whites I'd accumulated in the freezer after siphoning off yolks for buttercream frostings. I think angel food cake is underappreciated, and even my husband has to have his arm twisted to bother with it (if he's feeling kind, he'll leave it at "boring.") But even if it's not a favorite on its own, it is undeniably just the right thing to get dressed up. Take the sweet, light, fluffy cake and let it contrast with a creamy, richly indulgent custard, then top both with a tangy, juicy fruit compote that soaks into the cake. It's truly a special experience.

The custard is an interesting carmel color, which will cause your taste-testers even more surprise when they
realize it's balsamic! It has this uniquely balanced tangy, fruity flavor that is unexpected but oh-so-delicious
and goes particularly well with some juicy cherries and sweet angel cake.

The custard was so fantastic, I made it a second time, this time for a tart closer to the original recipe, and using regular balsamic vinegar (as I'd used up the last of my white balsamic for the first batch.)

In a further attempt to relieve my freezer, I pulled out some of my favorite sugar cookie dough (recipe in the "cookies" section) to use as the crust. This was good news/bad news because I thought it gave an excellent flavor, and I appreciated the structure a cookie dough provided to the overall tart... it held the decorative fluting of the tart pan sides very well. But, it was a bit of a challenge to cut into slices, especially with a soft custard and slippery fruit filling. It worked without crumbling completely (at least after the initial slice!) but next time I might try scoring the crust before baking or immediately after it comes out of the oven before it's completely set.

Sugar cookie dough used for tart crust, prior to filling.
Once the crust was completely cool, I simply filled with the chilled custard (made the evening before and refrigerated overnight) and topped with delicious, fresh sliced peaches. I didn't notice any difference in the taste of the custard using the regular balsmic versus the white balsamic. The color was darker, and it actually looked like a chocolate cream filling. To preserve the color of the peaches, I brushed them with about a tablespoon of melted jam and a squirt of fresh lemon juice. I used orange marmelade, but peach jam would be preferable, or apricot jam. Jam melts in about 6 seconds in the microwave.

Peach tart with balsamic custard and sugar cookie crust.
I found that the custard recipe size makes a ample quantity - I didn't use the whole batch to fill the tart pan. The leftovers last at least a week in the fridge, but might separate slightly or loose the smooth consistency. Simply reheat it over low heat, stirring gently until it's smooth again, and chill. You won't regret having it around, because the possibilities for accompaniments are virtually endless: almond pound cake and strawberries, shortbread cookies and plums, cinnamon bundt cake with raisins and grapes, or just eat it with a spoon and a macaroon or florentine!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fresh Bluberry and Lemon Cake

I was so pleased with the fresh strawberry cake I made a few weeks ago that I decided right then that I would make it again for my dad's birthday later in the month but with the modification of using his favorite - bluberries - instead of strawberries. I made a couple of other changes as well to make it more of a birthday celebration cake (ie: layers, and frosting!) but both versions are fantastic.

The rest of the meal was slightly mediterranean-inspired so incorporated a couple of Italian touches with my ingredients as well (limoncello, ricotta) but you can substitute as you wish. My dad grilled salmon and prawns with lemon and garlic, I made a Tuscan white bean salad with olives, artichokes, and sun-dried tomatoes, and my mom made asparagus and squash. We also started with Aperol sprizter aperitifs.

These kinds of party cakes always require planning as there are multiple steps, but each one is easy if you have a schedule organized in advance to complete the preparation. For example, the cream cheese filling can be made well in advance and kept in the fridge (or even the freezer). I just used a thin layer of the filling in the middle and to seal the sides, then frosted with whipped cream to keep it light, summery, and not too sweet. You can frost the top too, but I organized the berries on the top layer in an orderly pattern and thought they were really pretty as their own decoration with just a bit of piped cream and a swirl of lemon zest to hint at the flavor inside.

Lemon Bluberry Cake
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour3  teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 cups yogurt (I used Dannon Vanilla Light & Fit, but I'm sure plain, lowfat or regular fat yogurt would be even better)
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 large eggs
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/2 cup vegetable oil

about 1 cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together dry ingredients - flour, baking powder, salt, and zest.
In a separate bowl, blend yogurt, sugar, eggs, and oil. Fold in dry ingredients just until incorporated.
Divide batter evenly between two well-greased 9" (or 8") round baking pans. If they do not have removable bottoms, you might want to line them with parchment paper. Arrange berries atop batter, in a decorative pattern or scatter evenly.
Bake 25-30 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Meanwhile, prepare glaze (recipe below).

Handful of blueberries

lemon juice or limoncello liqueur, enough to almost cover fruit

Combine berries and liquid in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, and simmer until fruit is starting to burst. Remove from heat. Brushlightly but evenly over baked cake when it is done and return cake to oven for 2-3 minutes just to set glaze. Cool cake 15 minutes on a rack, then remove from pan and cook completely.

Cream Cheese Filling
I used about 1 cup of my favorite cream cheese frosting from Joy of Cooking and lightened it with 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese. The cake itself is relatively sweet, and the cream cheese frosting is also sweet and a bit sticky, so the ricotta just gives it an airier, tangier flavor more representative of European desserts. If I'd had marscapone, I would have used that in the frosting instead. Let me know if you decide to try it that way!

8 ounces cold cream cheese
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice or limoncello liqueur
3 cups sifted powdered sugar

Beat cheese and butter with electric mixer until blended. Stir in lemon. Add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well after each addition until incorporated.

Whipped Cream Frosting
Beat 250 ml of cold whipped cream in a chilled stainless steel bowl with chilled beaters, just until soft peaks form. Stir in 2 tablespoons sugar (or to taste - with a sweet enough cake, I like the sweetner just to take the sour out of the cream but not really leave it tasting sweet on it's own) and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Do not overbeat or you won't be able to spread it smoothly on the cake.

To assemble the cake, place one layer on the platter, berry side up. Frost with a layer of the cream cheese filling. Top with a layer of whipped cream and place the second cake layer, decorative berry side up, evenly atop. Frost the sides of the cakes with a very thin layer of cream cheese frosting, just to "crumb coat" (a light layer to lock the cake crumbs on to the sides.) Leave the top of the cake without frosting if you wish to copy the look in my photos above. Using generous swipes with a knife or offset spatula, frost the sides of the cake with the whipped cream. Fill a pastry bag with whipped cream and pipe a decorative border along the base of the cake, and around the top edge. Decorate with more fresh berries or lemon zest. Serve within 2 hours, or refrigerate, but try to bring to room temperature before serving to give the cake maximum flavor. If the cake layers are too chilled, the mouth feel of the cake is not as good and the overall flavor will be diminished.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

What's Fresh

I had a friend over for dinner recently, and did something I never do: I didn't plan the menu ahead. I knew I was going to make some type of pasta dish, because it's fairly quick and very versatile, but otherwise I was going to wait and see what looked good at the farmer's market (which rather inconveniently, didn't open until 3 p.m. the day of the dinner.)

This isn't news to many of you, but if you use what's fresh and delicious, your meal will be too. So even without hours of putting together exactly the right pairings of recipes, and meticulously shopping for specific ingredients, we had the best dinner of the week by using what was most colorful at the market.

In a not-especially-European way, we started with a green salad and cheeses. We had picked up two local cow's cheeses - an aged gouda from Appel Farms and some incredible Pluvius from Willapa Hills Farmstead. Gimme somoooore please! The green salad was from an enormous head of specialty lettuce, of which I don't recall the name but whose leaves were large, arugula-shaped, and slightly bitter. With a diced fresh nectarine, some crunchy green bell pepper strips, sweetened-toasted sliced almonds, and a tangy balsamic vinaigrette, we probably could have ended our meal happy right there.


But that would leave our other produce market treasures longing for their turn in the the limelight - or was it lemonlight?

I have made this lemon-ginger fettucine for guests before, and something about it just seems incredibly unique to me. I don't know why, because lemon and ginger are a classic pair, as are ginger and carrot. Perhaps it's because ginger is such an Eastern ingredient and pasta is such a Western one? Or because carrot "ribbons" are an unexpected format for a usually diced, chopped, or shredded vegetable? In any case, unique or not, it is delicious. And since I've made it before, I know how to play with it, so below is the version I made this time.

For dessert, I made a batch of my plum wine sorbet (see "Middle Eastern Menu" entry for October 3, 2010). I still had some dough in the freezer for date-anise cookies and sugar cookies, so baked a sheet-ful of each of those for delightful and so-simple accompaniments. I love having home-made cookie dough in the freezer, so I can have a fresh-baked dessert for company with practically no effort.

Lemon-Ginger Fettucine with Carrots and Squashserves 4

1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1 tablespoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
4 medium carrots plus green tops
1 pattypan squash (5-6 inches across)
8 ounces fettucine
1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese
1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Using a vegetable peeler, scrap carrots into thin "ribbon" strips - you can try to make them narrow to match the shape of the pasta, but I like them wide so they are colorful. Dice the sqaush into 3/4" cubes. Chop the carrot greens. (If you aren't able to get the whole carrots with the tops, use parsley instead.)

Melt the butter in a large skillet.
Cook pasta according to package directions. Stir in the zest and ginger. Add the carrots and squash, stirring to coat, and saute about 5 minutes over medium. If the pasta isn't ready yet, reduce heat to low to prevent butter from burning. When pasta is ready, use tongs to transfer the noodles to the skillet and toss with the vegetables. Stir in ricotta cheese, lemon juice, carrot greens, and reserved pasta cooking water (about 1/2 cup) to moisten the mixture. Heat everything through completely and stir to mix well and make a creamy sauce. Season with cracked pepper and serve sprinkled generously with parmesan.