Penne Pasta with Lemon Infused Vegetables and Ricotta Salata
1 lb. penne pasta
1 gallon water
2 Tbsp. salt
4-6 oz. virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. garlic
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
1-2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 lb. shiitake mushrooms, quartered
1 cup red peppers, diced
1 lb. broccoli, cut into florets
1 large fennel, cut into strips
1 tsp. fresh thyme, minced
1/4 cup Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
1 lb. ricotta salata cheese
Parcook the broccoli and fennel by boiling for 3 to 4 minutes in salted water. Drain and reserve. To cook the pasta, bring the salt and water to a boil. Add the pasta and stir frequently to prevent the pasta from sticking together. Cook until almost tender, appx. 8-10 minutes. Drain and reserve some of the cooking liquid.
While the pasta is cooking, heat a large saute pan over medium heat and saute the garlic, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes in the olive oil for 3 to 4 minutes, being very careful not to brown the garlic. Add the red peppers and mushroom and continue to cook until mushrooms are tender.
Add the cooked broccoli, fennel and thyme and continue to cook without browning. Add the cooked pasta, half of the parsley and season with salt and pepper. If the pasta seems too dry, add some of the reserved pasta cooking liquid.
Portion the pasta into heated bowls and garnish the tops with grated ricotta salata and the chopped parsley. Yields 4 to 6 servings.
Note: Ricotta salata is a dry salted ricotta cheese that has a sharp, almost tangy flavor; it is available in most Italian grocery stores.