This comes, again, from NYTimes Cooking (Hetty McKinnon) and it is both hearty and easy. It also has a great deal of flexibility – use mushrooms and leeks, or switch up and use onions and asparagus. We used a mix of mushrooms – shiitakes, maitakes, crimini – but using a single source is also fine. The pasta cooks within the sauce which brings everything together really well. This is a vegetarian version but it can be easily made into vegan with a substitute or omission for the ricotta and butter (use nutritional yeast and vegan butter).
For this you’ll need: 3 cups/6 oz mixed mushrooms (chopped; we used a mix of shiitakes, maitakes and crimini), 1 large leek (white part only; chopped), 4 cups vegetable broth, 3 cloves garlic (crushed and chopped), 1 lemon (cut in half), 1/2 fresh parsley (chopped), 2 Tbsp butter, 1 cup ricotta, 1 lb shell pasta, 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, olive oil.
Put a good glug of olive oil into a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the chopped leeks and stir well until just beginning to soften – about 5 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and mushrooms, stir well, and then allow to cook, undisturbed, over medium heat until the mushrooms start to brown and caramelize – about 2-3 mins. Stir and the allow to cook again for a couple of minutes more until all of the mushrooms are browning.
Add the juice of 1/2 of the lemon to deglaze the pot and stir well to combine.
Add the stock and the pasta, raise the heat to medium high and stir well to combine everything. Once the liquid is beginning to boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot and allow to cook until the pasta is al dente (usually about 10 mins but check the pasta packaging).
Once the pasta is cooked, remove the lid, turn off the heat, add the butter, the juice of the second half of the lemon and 1/2 of the chopped parsley and stir everything until the butter is completely melted and everything is combined well. Add the red pepper flakes and salt and ground black pepper to taste.
Serve in the still warm pot and add the ricotta and the second 1/2 of the chopped parsley just before everyone digs in.