Garlic Pasta Salad
1 head garlic
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb. pasta shells
15 oz. ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
to taste salt & pepper
1 pint cherry tomatoes
3 cups baby spinach
Using a sharp knife, cut approximately ½ inch off the top of the head of garlic. Place the garlic bulb in a small bowl or dish and drizzle ½ tablespoon of olive oil over the exposed cloves. Cover the bowl with an inverted plate. Microwave on high, in one minute increments, until the garlic is soft and fragrant (about 2 minutes). Use caution when touching the dishes, they will be very hot.
Allow the garlic to cool.
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, add the pasta, and cook for 7-10 minutes or until al dente. Reserve ½ cup of the starchy pasta cooking water.
While the pasta is cooking, squeeze the garlic cloves from the head and mince well. Add the minced garlic to a medium bowl along with the ricotta cheese, a healthy dose of freshly cracked pepper, and about ½ tsp of salt. Add the ½ cup of hot, starchy pasta cooking water. Stir until it forms a smooth sauce.
Drain the pasta. Return the drained pasta to the warm pot (the burner should be turned off). Add the fresh baby spinach and pour the ricotta sauce over top. Slice the cherry tomatoes and add them to the pot as well. Stir until everything is well mixed.
Add in the parmesan cheese and stir again. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm!