Pasta con la ricotta (Pasta and ricotta)

Pasta con la ricotta (Pasta and Ricotta Cheese)

In Campania, pasta, primi piatti, Puglia by Frank47 Comments

Pasta and ricotta make for a perfect impromptu meal or weekend dinner. The mellow flavor combination of tomato, ricotta and a bit of parmesan cheese is vaguely reminiscent of southern-style lasagna. But unlike lasagna, it’ll be done in less than 30 minutes—the time it takes to bring the water to the boil and cook your pasta. Now that’s what I call a time-saver.

Ingredients

Serves 4-6 people

  • 400-500g (3/4- 1 lb.) of short pasta (see Notes)
  • 200-250g (7-8 oz.) of canned tomatoes, whole or crushed, or passata (see Notes)
  • A garlic clove, peeled and slightly crushed
  • Olive oil
  • 250-300g (7-8 oz.) of ricotta (or to taste)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Grated parmesan cheese (to taste)

Optional:

  • A fresh basil leaf or two

Directions

Put the water on the boil for the pasta.

Meanwhile, begin your sauce: add the tomato, a drizzle of olive oil, the whole garlic clove, the basil (if using) and a pinch of salt to a heavy saucepan or pot and let it simmer gently for 10-15 minutes, just enough to lightly cook the tomato and meld the flavors—or, if you like you can keep it at the barest simmer until the pasta is done. Remove the garlic clove.

When the water comes to a boil, salt it generously. Then add your pasta and cook it al dente.

When the pasta is done, drain it—but not too well—and add it to the pot with the tomato sauce over very gentle heat. Mix well, then add a few dollops of ricotta, enough to coat the pasta nicely but not enough to ‘bury’ it. I usually don’t measure, I just mix the pasta after adding each dollop to see if I need more and keep adding until I reach the consistency I want. Add a bit of the pasta water if the mixture seems too thick. Then add grated parmesan (a spoonful per person should do) and mix again. Taste and adjust for seasoning. (Remember, ricotta is rather bland and you’ll need to season well.)

Top your pasta and ricotta with some more grated parmesan cheese if you like, and serve immediately.

Notes

This sauce goes with almost any kind of short pasta. I think rigatoni or paccheri are particularly nice made this way. In Puglia, they would use orecchiette. I’ve also tried curly lasagna noodles (sometimes called reginette) and broke them into short lengths, and liked them, too.

The simple tomato sauce can be made from canned tomatoes that you have squeezed between your fingers (if they are of proper quality, they should melt down in no time into a sauce) or crushed tomatoes (which will give you a more assertive tomato flavor) or sieved tomatoes in jars, known as passata di pomodoro. You may have noticed that, exceptionally, this tomato sauce does not begin by frying the garlic in oil. Instead, you just add the garlic and oil, raw, directly into the tomatoes. Angelina used to make tomato sauce this way sometimes. It makes for a lighter, mellower tasting sauce, with just the barest hint of garlic, which is just what you want here to complement the delicate flavor of the ricotta.

You can also make pasta and ricotta entirely in bianco—just add the ricotta to the cooked pasta with salt and some of the pasta water. It’s surprisingly good. Now that’s what I call simple but delicious cooking!

Pasta con la ricotta (Pasta with Ricotta Cheese)

Rating: 51

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: Serves 4-6

Pasta con la ricotta (Pasta with Ricotta Cheese)

Ingredients

  • 400-500g (3/4- 1 lb.) of short pasta (see Notes)
  • 200-250g (7-8 oz.) of canned tomatoes, whole or crushed, or passata (see Notes)
  • A garlic clove, peeled and slightly crushed
  • Olive oil
  • 250-300g (7-8 oz.) of ricotta (or to taste)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Grated parmesan cheese (to taste)

Directions

  1. Put the water on the boil for the pasta.
  2. Meanwhile, begin your sauce: add the tomato, a drizzle of olive oil, the whole garlic clove, the basil (if using) and a pinch of salt to a heavy saucepan or pot and let it simmer gently for 10-15 minutes, just enough to lightly cook the tomato and meld the flavors—or, if you like you can keep it at the barest simmer until the pasta is done. Remove the garlic clove.
  3. When the water comes to a boil, salt it generously. Then add your pasta and cook it al dente.
  4. When the pasta is done, drain it—but not too well—and add it to the pot with the tomato sauce over very gentle heat. Mix well, then add a few dollops of ricotta, enough to coat the pasta nicely but not enough to 'bury' it. I usually don't measure, I just mix the pasta after adding each dollop to see if I need more and keep adding until I reach the consistency I want. Add a bit of the pasta water if the mixture seems too thick. Then add grated parmesan (a spoonful per person should do) and mix again. Taste and adjust for seasoning. (Remember, ricotta is rather bland and you'll need to season well.)
  5. Top with some more grated parmesan cheese if you like, and serve immediately.
http://memoriediangelina.com/2014/01/26/pasta-con-la-ricotta/

Comments

  1. As a longtime reader of your blog, this is one of my fave recipes. Love testing it with different pasta shapes. So simple, but the quality of the ingredients make the dish. Going to try this with farfelle tonight!

    1. Author

      Catherine, I’m always delighted to hear from our longtime readers! And happy to hear you like this recipe—it’s one of my faves, too. Farfalle would be fantastic with this sauce, as I’m sure you found out. Cheers, Frank

  2. Ciao Frank,
    this reminds me of the wonderful times at university, how many times I prepared pasta e ricotta for my flatmates during exam periods! One the best comfort food ever, with mezze maniche as first choice, always. It is so true that food is so connected to memories, thanks for reminding me those happy times. Have a nice weekend!

  3. Frank – this was terrific and so easy. I did snap a photo to post on your FB page but under the electric lights it just looked wrong. I opted not to post, but want you to know how much Mark and I enjoyed this!

    1. Author

      Thanks, David. I’m sorry you didn’t post that photo, lighting notwithstanding… But it’s the taste that counts. Delighted to hear you enjoyed the dish!

  4. Easy, quick and delicious! The perfect meal if you have limited time but still want something comforting! We both love rigatoni ourselves but we bet this sauce must be also awesome with linguine, right? We’ll try this out with the Greek version of ricotta, called “anthotyros”. M-m-mm, can’t wait for it!:)
    Sending you lots of sunshine from Athens! xo

    1. Author

      Actually, I think it would be much better with the rigatoni. The sauce is a bit “clingy” so a short pasta works better than a long one. Anyway, if you do try it, let us know if you like it!

  5. Frank I grew up enjoying this preparation, thank you for reminding me that this simple dish is satisfying and delicious. Your instructions echo the way in which my grandmother prepared it; of course we always thought it was a Calabrese tradition.

    1. Author

      Interesting. I guess it’s such a classic combination it has developed multiple places.

  6. Got some fresh ricotta at the farmers market this morning. Guess what’s for dinner!?

  7. I’ve done something similar – but never adding the ricotta directly to the pot. This will come to the dinner table next week. I love easy dinners Mondays-Fridays. And I am sucker for ricotta!

  8. I’ve never had this dish! Sounds easy and really tasty. Particularly like your instruction to drain the pasta, but not too well — how I always do it! 🙂 Good recipe — thanks.

  9. Thanks for reposting this, Frank. Love the traditional way you used the garlic. So few people get that! Bravo.

  10. Hi Frank, I found your website after visiting Italia this summer. What a great resource you have created from your Grandmother memories and I have learned so much. I too love food memories, even just thinking of about making my Grandmothers Swedish meatballs makes me happy. I have re-created some of the dishes from my trip this summer and long to go back for another visit. I made the pasta con ricotta recipe last night and my wife is loving me for it :). I used the Nina Canned tomatoes from Costco and the sauce turned out very good. Cheers! Jeff

    1. Author

      Thanks for the feedback, Jeff! Those Nina tomatoes are an excellent choice (btw, have you checked out my post on canned tomatoes?) Really glad you’re enjoying the site. And if you have recipes to share, maybe you should think about starting your own blog… I’m sure that Swedish meatball recipe would be a big hit.

      1. Hi Frank, Yes I did read your post on the canned tomatoes which was very informative. I would never have thought twice re: the difference in American canned vs Italian imported. Up next will be to make Chili with the NINA Brand to see how that campares in taste and texture. Cheers, Jeff

  11. There is this Italian restaurant about an hour away from where I live that has the best Baked Ziti. I have looked all over the internet for baked ziti recipes but none look like theirs. I ended up finding the right keywords in google images and found this page with the sauce looking identical! It looks just like this but with a tiny bit of tomato sauce added on top and then the cheese and all baked. They also put basil into the sauce as well and I am sure a lot more oil since theirs is a lot “shinier”. Thanks for the recipie, I will have to try it sometime soon!

  12. This is one of my favorite go-to pastas. Sometimes, especially before I had to feed two little ones at every meal, I used to add a healthy glug of Tabasco to it.

  13. Thank you for the recipe, it was very delicious. We ate it with your toscan fried chicken breasts, for otherwise my husband would have missed some meat, both were very good. And thanks once again, this time for the detailed instructions for frying the chicken, they really helped a lot.

  14. I love ricotta and I am always forgetting to get some – or better, make some – and use it as the star in a dish like this. Simple perfection.

  15. And @Manu: Many, many thanks for your kind gesture. It's a real honor coming from such a fantastic cook and blogger!

  16. Thanks, friends, for all your wonderful comments, as always. And @Ciao Chow Linda: do let us know how you liked it…

  17. This pasta looks just unbelievable, I never learnt to make pasta in this life, but maybe I will try once again to make, because the whole family loves it!

  18. What a simple and delicious looking meal! I love the ricotta in the tomato sauce; however, I would have to leave in the garlic clove. But then I'm one of those that believe you can never get enough garlic. 🙂

  19. Delicious! My mom's favourite pasta is just with ricotta (the “in bianco” version). Yours looks so good! Ohhh now I am hungry again and I just had lunch!!!

  20. very nice Frank, this is indeed a perfect mellow, weekend meal… this is just the type of cooking I enjoy, simple and from the heart of the kitchen

  21. This looks perfect for a quick, light and delicious side. I'm looking forward to trying this soon. Thanks for sharing.

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