Serious Eats' resident mad scientist Kenji recently showed us how to make fresh ricotta in five minutes with a Pryex, some milk, and a microwave. The results are really remarkable, and absolutely worth trying. Store-bought ricotta is simply nothing like it. Instead of grainy, it's tender, smooth, and has the mouthfeel of ice cream.
For a recipe like this, which hinges on the quality of the ricotta, it's important to use the good stuff. I pulled the recipe from Nancy Silverton's A Twist of the Wrist, which is made up of weeknight recipes that depend on at least one pre-made product (in this case, jarred sauce). She says she makes it for her kids a lot, and it's easy to see why: The thin noodles are fun to eat, and so is mixing up your own dinner as the tomatoes and ricotta meld into a delicious, creamy concoction.
If you have an extra 30 minutes, it's easy enough to make a real sauce and freeze the extra, though store-bought would do. But definitely don't skimp on the ricotta.
- 8 ounces capellini or angel hair pasta
- 26 ounces (about 2 cups) tomato sauce (jarred or made Basic Tomato Sauce)
- 1/4 cup good quality olive oil, plus more for thinning the ricotta and drizzling
- 1 cup fresh ricotta (preferably homemade)
- Chopped parsley and grated Parmesan for garnishing
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of salty water to boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. It will happen quickly with a thin pasta like capellini.
In the meantime, combine the tomato sauce and olive oil in a saucepan to warm. In a bowl, mix the ricotta with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and enough olive oil to loosen it up. Spoon the warm tomato sauce into bowls.
Use tongs to lift the pasta straight from the pot and into the waiting bowls. Twist it into high mounds, then top with the ricotta mixture and drizzle with olive oil. Top with fresh pepper, parsley, and Parmesan as desired.