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Walnut & ricotta rotini

It feels like we're in a shoulder season of home cooking right now. School's in session so fall comfort foods are on my mind, but it's still summer as far as the garden is concerned with ripe red tomatoes warming in the mid-day sunshine. This pasta dish with creamy ricotta cheese, crumbly walnuts, and bright grape tomatoes feels like a nice combination of fresh summer goodness and cozy fall comfort food.

Here's how I made it:
makes 4 servings

4 cups dry rotini pasta
a splash of olive oil
1/2 cup onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1 tsp salt
freshly cracked black pepper to taste
pinch nutmeg
a handful of fresh basil leaves for garnish

I started by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil and adding the pasta, allowing it to cook until al dente (about 8 minutes), reserving 1/2 a cup of the cooking water just before draining. Meanwhile, I warmed the olive oil over medium-high heat in a non-stick skillet. I added the onion and garlic to the skillet and cooked for a few minutes until soft. Then I added the tomatoes and cooked a couple minutes longer. The ricotta went into the skillet next, along with the reserved pasta water, walnuts, salt, pepper and nutmeg, and the sauce was allowed to bubble for a couple minutes to slightly thicken. The drained pasta was returned to the large pot and the sauce was poured over top and stirred to combine. The pasta was garnished with the basil leaves when served.

I love the texture combination of the ricotta and walnuts, and the burst of tomatoes is fresh and satisfying. A lovely combination of summer and fall.

Are you starting to cook some of your favourite fall comfort foods yet? Which foods say fall to you?