October is a strange month. The vivid, bright colours of summer seem to fade like an old picture, memories of warmth and drinks in the park melting away like the last gelato of the season. Under relentless rain and rare sunny days, we forget the feeling of stepping into clear water, of sand in the sheets, of walking barefoot. Drinking ice-cold lemonade on a balcony is a memory that seems to belong to someone else.
I wake up to a sepia-coloured world, the sky heavy, taking on all sort of shades of grey, from icy blue to muddy hues. I walk on a bed of crisp fallen leaves, the trees start to look bare, and my trench coat feels a little thin. I wear the first prickly jumper, drink copious amounts of tea, dramatically sigh before I have to leave my flat and, with it, my pyjamas.
Salad quickly loses its appeal and I turn every vegetable into soup, denying it any pretence of texture, blending everything into one warm liquor to warm up my body and my spirit.
But also, I buy vegetables, look for colour in the bright hues of peppers, muse over the shapes of aubergines, caramelise Brussels sprouts, briefly forget that butter is sadly not a vegetable. I find comfort in the brown paper bags that get soaked under the heavily scented autumn rain, which smells of wood and trees and melancholy. I make myself a pasta and eat it nestled in a cushion fort, watching the new TV shows that autumn has gifted me (best part about autumn, hands down).
I can’t remember where I first saw a recipe for ricotta cream but it’s a genius idea: blending ricotta cheese with a little vegetable broth until it reaches the consistency of double cream, but it’s much lighter, a little tangier, more subtle. With it, sautéed purple spouting broccoli which sadly lose their beautiful colour when you cook them, but are hearty and delicious.
Pasta with ricotta cream and purple sprouting broccoli
Serves 2 (greedy people)
250 g ricotta
Some garlic, pepper, salt, chilli flakes
A little warm vegetable broth or warm water
Purple sprouting broccoli (or normal broccoli, cut in florets)
200 g pasta (I used penne)
- Bring a pot of salted water to the boil and cook your past as per the packet instructions.
- Heat up some olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and fry the crushed garlic until soft and golden, then toss the broccoli until they are cooked all the way through and the stalks are soft. If needed, you could add a little broth or water to prevent the broccoli from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- In a bowl, slowly add a couple of tablespoon of broth (or water) to the ricotta, until it looks a little like double cream. Add the cream to the broccoli and remove from the heat.
- When the pasta is ready, drain and toss with the creamy sauce until thoroughly mixed.