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Kitchen Mailbox Countdown to Dinner Dining
Countdown to Dinner: Ricotta makes creamy pasta sauce

Thursday, May 18, 2000

Tested by Betsy Kline

One of our favorite dishes here at Countdown for Dinner is a broccoli-pasta combo with a delicious, eggy sauce sent in by reader. Today's recipe from Marlene Vlasach is a yummy, less-caloric variation of that dish, Bowties With Broccoli and Ricotta.

Vlasach, of McKees Rocks, tells us that she found this meal idea in a recipe pamphlet, but now she knows it by heart.

The mother of seven and her husband, James, celebrate their 47th wedding anniversary soon, which gives you an idea of how long she's been honing her skills in the kitchen. And even though the kids are grown and have moved out, she is still accustomed to cooking up big portions out of habit. Leftovers are packed up and shipped out to family, she says. (Marlene's daughter-in-law, Cheryl Vlasach of Kennedy, is a three-time Countdown participant.)

James is retired from the Post Office and the Meadows Race Track; Marlene, a fulltime mom and homemaker, never really retired. With 12 grandchildren rounding out the brood, she keeps busy with big family dinners and babysitting.

She still occasionally makes pierogies when there are extra hands to help out, she says.

Her recipe is a filling main-dish meal that comes together in the time it takes to bring the pasta water to a boil.

We liked the creamy texture of the ricotta; next time we'll add a shake or two of nutmeg.

Bowties With Broccoli and Ricotta

16-ounce box bowties or other pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 green onions including tops, sliced thin
1 pound broccoli florets, cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese (we used the entire 15-ounce carton)

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to directions.

Heat oil over medium-high heat, add onions and cook for 1 minute.

Add broccoli and cook 3 more minutes. Add water to vegetable mixture, bring to boil, cover and cook about 5 minutes until broccoli is tender crisp. Add mixture to ricotta and drained pasta; season to taste. Serve with Parmesan cheese. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Do you have an entree, salad or vegetable side dish recipe (no desserts, please!) that can be made in 30 minutes or less from six ingredients or fewer (not counting water, salt and pepper)? Share it with Countdown to Dinner.

The PG tests all recipes and if we select your recipe for publication, you'll receive a free selection from our cookbook grab bag of current releases.

Send your recipe to Countdown to Dinner, Post-Gazette Food, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, or fax to 412-263-1313. Please include your name, neighborhood and daytime phone number. Or e-mail to: nanderson@post-gazette.com. Questions? Call 412-263-1760.

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