My dear friend Tantalus strikes again. Just try to take a nibble. I dare you. It’s almost torturous of me to tantalize you with this tempting and titillating treat since it will be nearly impossible for you to taste. So simple, yet so out of reach. Why? For starters, unless you’re in Ragusa, Sicily, where I first ate it, the ambiance will be lacking (although you can always imagine). And then there are the peas, which probably won’t come fresh from the farm, but rather from your freezer. And unless you’re willing to hand roll the cavatelli, they’ll probably be frozen too. All of this we can live with, but then there’s the matter of the ricotta…and I don’t mean the stuff in a plastic tub with an expiration date 60 days out. I mean ricotta like you’ve never tasted and nearly impossible to find. If you can’t get your hands on fresh ricotta, you may as well give up. And just in case you think you can buy “fresh ricotta” at the local market, be advised that “fresh” isn’t always fresh, even when called fresh. So try a specialty cheese shop and look for fresh imported Italian ricotta. You’ll understand when you taste it.
An eternity is a long time to wait, but let me know if you ever reach the prize. You’ll be satisfied if you do.
In a large saucepan, sauté the onion in the olive oil until translucent. Add the peas and cook until tender, careful not to overcook them. Set aside ¼ of the peas for garnish.
In a large serving bowl, add a teaspoon of each salt and pepper to the ricotta. With a wooden spoon, mix together vigorously for a few minutes until the ricotta becomes creamy. Set aside.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta, retaining a cup of the pasta cooking water.
Add the pasta to sauté pan with the peas, and heat together for about a minute. Then mix the pasta and peas into the bowl with the ricotta. If the pasta seems dry, add a bit of the retained cooking water. Serve immediately, garnished with the remaining peas and a sprinkle of pepper.