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Meatless Fridays

Ricotta salata isn’t the same thing as ricotta cheese. It’s a sheep’s milk cheese; the curds and whey are pressed and dried before the cheese is aged. The result is a cheese with a slightly spongy texture and an intense creamy flavor, rather like a dry Italian feta. Use as you would feta cheese. Just remember that feta cheese is aged in brine, therefore although both cheeses are salty, feta usually has a wetter texture and crumbles more easily.

Watermelon and red onion salad with ricotta salata

seedless watermelon, cubed
2 T. ricotta salata, crumbled
chopped scallions (light green and white part only)
red onion or Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
2 T. reserved watermelon juice
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. lime juice
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
chopped parsley

Combine watermlon, ricotta salata, onion and scallions. Toss gently. Whisk dressing and spoon over salad. Serve immediately.

Every so often I have vegetarian night, although with the way the economy is (and the fact that in the summer we’re treated to a profusion of amazing produce at our Greenmarkets), I’ve been eating meatless meals more often than normal. I had picked up some cremini mushrooms on a whim, on the same night that I had bought the trout for Wednesday’s dinner. Creminis are smaller versions of portobello mushrooms. Substitute regular button mushrooms if unavailable.

Fettucine with cremini mushrooms and garlic in cream sauce

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1/2 lb. cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 T. unsalted butter
pinch of kosher salt
cracked black pepper
2 T. chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 lb. fettucine
grated pecorino cheese (optional)

Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté until it starts to color, about 1 minute. Add mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Cook until tender. Stir in heavy cream. Cook until sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally. Check seasoning; stir in chopped parsley. Remove from heat. Fold cooked fettucine into sauce, making sure to lightly coat the strands. Serve immediately, passing cheese at the table.

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