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Playing Rigatoni with Ricotta


  • 2 tablespoons EVOO Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 28- to 32-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 small onion, peeled and halved
  • A few leaves of basil, torn
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh sheep or cows milk ricotta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup mint, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 ball fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded or cut into fine dice, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup shelled spring peas, par-boiled 3-4 minutes, optional
  • 1 pound box rigatoni


Serves: 6


Preheat oven to 425°F.

In a small saucepot, heat EVOO over medium to medium-high heat. Add butter and melt. When it starts to foam, add garlic, stir a minute and add tomatoes, mashing them up. Add onion, basil and bay. Season with salt and pepper; simmer 30 minutes over low heat. Remove onion. Add butter to sauce to finish.

Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta.

Combine ricotta with salt, pepper, thyme, parsley, mint, lemon zest, half the mozzarella and half of the Parm.

Salt pasta water. Boil rigatoni about 7-8 minutes, under-cooking it a minute or so from al dente. Reserve about 1 cup of starchy cooking liquid. Drain pasta and return to hot pot, stir in ricotta mixture, peas and adding starchy cooking water to combine as needed. Transfer to a baking dish.

Pour red sauce evenly over top of pasta in baking dish, top with remaining mozzarella and Parm cheese. Bake until bubbly and the cheese is browned, 15-18 minutes--be careful not to dry the pasta out.