Penne with Ricotta and Tomato Sauce
- TOTAL TIME: 45 MIN
- SERVINGS: 4
Try fresh sheep's-milk ricotta if it's available—it has a delicate flavor and light texture. For a richer topping, whisk 1 tablespoon of mascarpone into the ricotta in Step 1.
- 1 cup fresh whole-milk ricotta (about 1/2 pound)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 3 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped
- 1/2 cup diced onion
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 3/4 pound penne
- In a small bowl, whisk the ricotta with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Cover and set aside at room temperature for up to 4 hours.
- In a large nonreactive saucepan, simmer the tomatoes over moderate heat until very soft, about 10 minutes. Pass them through the medium disk of a food mill or use a rubber spatula to push the tomatoes through a coarse strainer.
- Wipe out the saucepan and heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in it. Add the onion and garlic and cook over low heat until softened but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and 1 tablespoon of the basil and simmer over moderately low heat until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. Stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano and season with salt and pepper.
- Fill a large pot with water, cover and bring to a boil. Add salt and the penne. Cover partially until the water just returns to a boil, then uncover, stir the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce; toss to coat the pasta well. Serve immediately in warmed bowls, topped with a dollop of the ricotta and a sprinkling of the remaining basil.
Made mostly from Sangiovese grapes, the Avignonesi Vino Nobile de Montepulciano is a hefty, juicy wine that will wrap itself around the ricotta and tomato sauce.