Spaghetti with Lemon, Broccoli, and Ricotta Salata

When I was at Fresh Market earlier this week, I finally remembered to purchase some ricotta salata. I've wanted to try this cheese for quite some time. Of all the fancy cheeses at Fresh Market, this one was definitely in my budget.

Ricotta salata is the same thing as the soft ricotta cheese you can buy in a tub to use for dishes such a lasagna, however once it is aged it becomes firmer and is then called ricotta salata. It is a hard cheese similar to, however milder than, feta cheese, with a bright white color. It is ideal for grating and crumbling. Once it melts, it does not turn gooey or stringy like many other cheeses.

I chose to use some of the ricotta salata with a simple pasta dish. I wanted to make some spaghetti without the usual tomato sauce. For those cases, you generally rely on olive oil to moisten the pasta, but I wanted to keep the fat content down. Therefore, I made a reduced garlicky broth. To help decrease the calories of the pasta dish even more, I added broccoli for bulk. To lighten the flavor, I added lemon juice for brightness.

Spaghetti with Lemon, Broccoli, and Ricotta Salata

1 14.5 oz box spaghetti (preferably whole grain)
1 cup reserved pasta cooking water
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 tsp dried basil
4 cups fresh broccoli florets
2 tsp lemon zest
4 tsp lemon juice
4 oz ricotta salata, grated, plus more for garnish
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions in salted water. In the last 2 minutes of cooking, add the broccoli.
2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the oil, allow it to heat, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the broth and basil and bring the temperature to high. Cook the garlic broth until the broth has reduced by half, stirring frequently to prevent the garlic from scorching.
3. Once the broccoli and pasta are done, reserve the cup of cooking water, drain them and add them to the reduced garlic broth. Sprinkle over the lemon zest and juice, some salt and pepper, to taste, and the ricotta salata; toss to combine, adding pasta water, if necessary, to moisten.
4. Divide the pasta evenly amongst serving dishes, adding some grated ricotta salata for garnish.

Servings per recipe: 4
Per serving:
Calories: 439
Fat: 11.7 g
Saturated fat: 2.7 g
Cholesterol: 84 mg
Sodium: 127 mg
Carbohydrates: 65.7 g
Fiber: 4.4 g
Sugar: 1.8 g
Protein: 18.6 g

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