Pasta with Peaches
This dish delivers the freshness of summer (using fresh fruit) and is equally uplifting in winter when the gray rainy days seem unending (using frozen fruit). It is delicious as a light meal or as a side dish to complement grilled or roasted pork and chicken.
Yield: serves 4 as an entrée or 6 as a side dish
- 12 ounces whole wheat spirelli or rotini pasta
- 3 peaches or nectarines peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch slices
- 8 ounces fresh ricotta cheese drained in cheesecloth 1 hour or overnight
- 3 ounces pancetta thinly sliced, cut in small pieces
- 5 ounces fresh arugula rinsed and drained
- zest of 1 lemon
- zest of 1 orange
- fresh thyme sprigs
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon truffle oil (You may substitute a fruity olive oil.)
- 2 ounces reserved pasta cooking water
- salt and pepper
- Heat oven to 425 degrees. Put a large, covered pot of well-salted water on the stove to boil. Line a medium baking sheet with several sprigs of fresh thyme to cover bottom.
- Toss peach slices with 1 tablespoon olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Place in a single layer on top of the thyme. Roast in oven for 15 to 20 minutes until softened and starting to brown. Remove and let sit at room temperature until ready to use.
- In a medium bowl, mix drained ricotta with lemon and orange zest, cayenne pepper, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature until ready to use.
- Cook pancetta pieces in a large, straight-sided skillet on medium heat until fat is rendered and meat is crispy, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain on paper towel and reserve. Drain out all but 1 teaspoon of the rendered fat. Leave in skillet until ready to use.
- Cook pasta according to package directions, probably 7 to 9 minutes, until al dente. Reserve 2 ounces of cooking water, then drain pasta in colander.
- While pasta is cooking, mix arugula with truffle oil and a dash of salt and black pepper. Reserve.
- In skillet with reserved fat, add reserved pasta-cooking water, ricotta cheese, and hot pasta. Mix well. (The heat of the pasta will help distribute the cheese on the pasta.) Fold in reserved peaches (bed of thyme can be discarded), and arugula, stirring to wilt.
- Plate warm pasta and garnish liberally with the crispy pancetta.