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Dinner inspirations: Ziti With Ricotta and more

Mon | Jersey, with a twist

When I think ziti, I think New Jersey, and this easy version of Ziti With Ricotta (recipe below) might even make Tony Soprano forget the baked variety. Tell the kids it's fancy mac and cheese. A green salad is a good accompaniment.

Tue | Salad days

Refresh body and spirit with individual ice-cold Shrimp Louis salads for dinner. Break up ice-cold lettuce, add tomato wedges, cucumber slices, maybe some scallions and top it all with lots of peeled, cold shrimp. Scatter around some hard-boiled eggs. Dress with Thousand Island and serve with breadsticks.

Wed | Rotisserie chicken

Carve the golden bird and serve with broiled tomatoes and steamed green beans. Make the tomatoes the star of the show by spreading first with Dijon mustard and sprinkling with grated Swiss cheese. Mix dried breadcrumbs with capers, any chopped herbs you have on hand and a bit of melted butter. Sprinkle mixture on top of tomatoes and broil for 2 to 3 minutes.

Thur | A little comfort

No time to cook meatloaf? Instead of baking for an hour in a loaf pan, make mini loaves in muffin tins. A serving is two or three, depending on the size. They'll cook in about 30 minutes, you can boil some red potatoes and mash them, skins and all, with milk and butter. Steam broccoli.

Fri | Kebab crazy

Make your own skewers or buy them already threaded for a meal that cooks up quick on the grill. Wrap corn in foil with butter and toss those on, too. Serve with rice, rice pilaf or flavored couscous.

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Ziti With Ricotta
1 pound ziti or penne rigati

1 pound part-skim milk ricotta

2 ounces fresh goat cheese

Half a bag of baby spinach leaves (optional)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Freshly ground black pepper

Freshly grated Pecorino, for serving (I used Parmesan)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and pour in the pasta. Stir. Set your serving bowl on top of the pot to warm it.

While the pasta cooks, whip the ricotta and goat cheese together with a fork. A few minutes before the pasta is done, dump in the spinach and let it wilt. When the pasta is al dente, ladle out a cup of the water for use in the sauce. Drain the pasta and spinach and return it to the pot. Stir in the butter and the cheeses and season with pepper. Stir in enough of the pasta water — a little at a time — to make a smooth sauce.

Scrape the pasta into the serving bowl and serve immediately. Pass the grated cheese at the table.

Serves 4 to 5 as a main dish.

Source: Adopted from Tasty by Roy Finamore (Houghton Mifflin, 2006)

Dinner inspirations: Ziti With Ricotta and more 07/22/08 [Last modified: Monday, July 28, 2008 9:52am]
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