Friday, June 4, 2010

Sicilian Shepherd's Tomato Pasta with Fresh Ricotta

Lynne Rossetto Kasper of The Splendid Table on NPR

  • 1 15-ounce container creamy whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup coarsely chopped salami (such as soppressata or Genoa)
  • 2 stalks celery with leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 10 large fresh sage leaves, snipped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley leaves, snipped
  • 2 medium onions (about 1 cup), chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large cloves, garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 28-ounce can and 1 14-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained and cut up
  • 1 pound penne rigate or bucatini pasta
  • 6 quarts boiling salted water

  1. Let ricotta come to room temperature. In a 12-inch skillet heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the salami; cook to release a little of its fat. Stir in the celery, carrot, sage, parsley, onions, black pepper, and salt. Reduce heat to medium; cook and stir until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes; cook 1 minute. Add the wine and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes. Cook, uncovered, about 10 minutes or until thick.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions. Drain in a colander.
  4. Add the pasta to the sauce and toss together over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes or until heated through. Spread about one-third of the pasta in a warm serving bowl. Top with one-third of the ricotta. Layer in more pasta and ricotta, then the remaining pasta; finish with a few spoonfuls of ricotta. Serve hot.

Recipe Notes:

Soffritto is literally a "sautéed base" and is the building block for tomato sauce. This pasta dish features the best of pasta, cheese and tomatoes all in one place. Lynne Rossetto Kasper, author and radio show host of "The Splendid Table®," is fond of this dish. Use the sweetest, creamiest ricotta cheese you can find. Soppressata or Genoa salami add a pleasant amount of spice to this pasta dish; you can find these varieties at a gourmet food store.

This was a new twist on pasta sauce- I really enjoyed it. It's amazing how much better homemade sauce tastes. This was a fairly easy recipe as long as you don't mind chopping some vegetables. You could surely make the sauce ahead of time. Before eating, boil the pasta, warm up the sauce, and toss together.

I am not the world's biggest fan of ricotta cheese, but this was good. I think the sauce would be just fine without the ricotta. I did attempt to find sheep's milk ricotta without success- when I can find some, I'll try this again!

Tim's Rating: 8/10
Liz's Rating: 8.5/10