Typical reaction when hearing I made this dish: “Are you crazy?” “Prunes?! In pasta??!” and the eventual “Ewwww!” Matthew’s response was simply, “That’s just too bad that I’ll be away this week for travel. I’ll be so sorry to miss out.” I sensed sarcasm in there but you know what? He SHOULD be sorry! Because this recipe was amazing!

Delicious, nutritious and cheapalicious. This recipe came from the Poor Girl Gourmet cookbook that my sister got me for Christmas and it’s the first of many recipes I’ll be making from it. Estimated cost for this recipe, which serves four, was $8.75. So if you find your pantry full of prunes and pasta — and you find your family has not run away screaming — then go forth and make this. And if you do find yourself deserted by all the people you love, it just means more pasta for you!

The prunes in the dish end up tasting like little meaty morsels. The ricotta adds a creamy, salty complement to the pasta and the leeks also offset the prunes’ sweet taste. The only thing I adapted in this recipe was to add extra leeks. The recipe, which was inspired by a dish the author ate when in Italy, is quick, healthy and easy on the pocketbook. Also — it’s strangely awesome.

Pasta with Prunes and Ricotta
from Poor Girl Gourmet cookbook
serves 4

1 lb medium-length, thick pasta, such as gemelli
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 large leeks, washed and sliced, white and light green parts only
12 oz. pitted prunes, quartered
1/2 cup fresh ricotta, plus an additional 1/4 cup for serving
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

Bring large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to its directions, or until the pasta is al dente.

In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat and add leeks, cooking until softened (roughly 5 minutes). Add the prunes and cook until softened and heated through (roughly 5-7 minutes).

Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of cooking water. Add cooked pasta and 1 cup of cooking water to skillet, stirring to combine. Simmer for one minute. Add 1/2 cup fresh ricotta and stir until melted. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and serve, topping each serving with a tablespoon or so of fresh ricotta. Now go ahead. Embrace your exotic side.

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