Have you been to Eataly yet? It’s Mario Batali’s latest creation in New York City: an over-the-top 50,000 sq. ft. grocery store filled with imported Italian food and wine as well as 7 different restaurants. Yup, seven. In Eataly, there is a cookbook section where I got a collection of recipes officially titled 1,000 recipes from the cooks and restaurants in the Slow Food Osterie D’Italia Guide. Don’t try to Google it, it’s only available for sale in Eataly – so I plan to work my way through it and share my progress with all of you. This recipe stood out as an extraordinarily unique and, according to the description, very traditional one. It was so delicious and “earthy” – it’s one of our new favorite recipes.
1. Add 2 cups of water, 1 peeled garlic clove and a few pinches of salt to a small pot. Bring to a boil. Add the lentils, cover and reduce heat to simmer for 30 minutes or until lentils are tender.
2. Meanwhile, add olive oil to a skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped mushrooms, 3 minced garlic cloves, parsley and basil and cook until mushrooms are soft, about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and place aside.
3. Bring a pot of boiling salted water to a boil and add the penne. Cook until the pasta is al dente, according to package instructions. Then drain the water and return the pasta to the pot along with the ricotta (or cottage) cheese. Toss, using more cheese, as needed, to coat the pasta. If using ricotta cheese, heat on low for just a few seconds to warm. If using cottage cheese, do not apply heat at all or the whey will begin to cook down and clump together.
4. Serve in bowls or plates by layering the pasta on the bottom, lentils in the middle and mushrooms on top. Garnish with fresh ground black pepper and a pinch of parmesan cheese.