Herbed Ricotta Pasta with Dried Cherries

by Rachel on March 23, 2010

This recipe comes from the formidable Mark Bittman. Bittman writes “The Minimalist” column for the New York Times and has written several cookbooks. He’s a good example of a healthy flexitarian and I just love his overall approach to food. He’s just so sensible and smart, but he’s got a ‘tude when it comes to food politics and he’s not afraid to challenge the crap that needs to be challenged (check out this video on the “Smart Choice” food label to see what I mean).

This recipe is from his cookbook Kitchen Express, which is a seriously speedy little cookbook. It barely even gives directions or measurements…it’s more like “toss this here and that here.” But it works! I changed a few things about the recipe and have some measurements for you. I made it for myself, but it can easily be made to serve many more.

You can use any pasta you like; I was getting sick of my standard Smart Taste penne so I mixed it up and bought Barilla farfalle because it had tons of OMGs.


1/2 cup dry pasta

1/4 cup part-skim or fat-free ricotta cheese

Parsley, sage, and oregano (about two tablespoons, roughly chopped)

1/4 tsp unsalted butter

1 and 1/2 tbsp dried cherries

Splash balsamic vinegar

1/2 tbsp pine nuts

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

This is How We Do It

Boil the water and cook the pasta according to the package directions. While that’s going on, combine the herbs and the ricotta cheese.

Drain the pasta, reserving about two tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Heat the butter in a pan and add the cherries, pasta water, and a splash of vinegar to create a sauce. Then add the pasta.

Serve topped with the cheese, pine nuts, and fresh Parmesan.


The pine nuts were one of my additions to the original recipe — I have no idea why I wanted to use pine nuts, as I’ve only ever eaten them in pesto — and I have to say, it was pretty inspired. They give it crunch but also just a really nice warm and toasty bit of flavor. Once I mashed the cheese in there, I realized it tasted a lot like my homemade butternut squash ravioli…but it’s about a hundred times easier to make!

The thing about the Barilla pasta is that it’s got a lot more protein than normal pasta…so even though this was meatless, I stayed full for a good four hours. Honestly, though, I didn’t even miss the meat. I had it with a salad and it was plenty filling. It has a lot of flavor and feel so decadent.

Make it, love it, don’t ask questions.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 sarah @ syrupandhoney March 23, 2010 at 7:12 pm

I’m a huge Mark Bittman fan! Even though I eat meat, I love his How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.
.-= sarah @ syrupandhoney´s last blog ..Polenta with a Poached Egg and Chives =-.


2 Jessica @ How Sweet March 23, 2010 at 7:55 pm

That sounds awesome – I adore dried cherries.


3 Teri [a foodie stays fit] March 23, 2010 at 8:13 pm

that looks so good! do you use unsweetened or sweetened cherries? I’ve never bought dried cherries so I’m not really sure what to look for!
.-= Teri [a foodie stays fit]´s last blog ..My Big (Non)fat Greek Yogurt =-.


4 PaganAngel March 23, 2010 at 10:13 pm

That looks so easy and tasty! I’m always looking for ricotta uses, as it’s one of the few cheeses that’s easy to find here. Cherries, however are crazy expensive. And pinenuts, non-existant. I’ll have to swap another nut, as I think that’s a brilliant addition. Any suggestions on the cherries? We’ve got prunes (probably not!), raisins, peaches, apricots, pears…maybe pears?
.-= PaganAngel´s last blog ..Ultimate Peanut Butter Cup Cake =-.


5 Rachel March 23, 2010 at 10:15 pm

Do you have cranberries? Definitely cranberries! Otherwise, pears would probably be really good…and walnuts instead of pinenuts would be great! Bittman suggested hazelnuts.


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