Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Pasta with Sweet Tomato Sauce and Baked Ricotta

Growing up in New York, my mom always used Polly-O cheeses, specifically the ricotta and mozzarella. Having tasted and used many other brands, I completely share her devotion to Polly-O. When we moved to Ohio, it was no longer available. My mom would stock up every time we went back to New York, and have my grandma bring her some when she visited from Florida. It's just that good.
Now that I'm living in Florida, the elusive Polly-O is widely available in my grocery store! Whenever I see it on sale, I stock up. Cheese freezes exceptionally well, so I always have some on hand. When I saw this recipe pop up in my google reader from Cate, one that really showcases ricotta, I knew my Polly-O was destined for greatness! I absolutely loved the way the ricotta tasted when baked. It was still sweet, but had a little bit of crunch.
Since the dish has so few ingredients, I really wanted to use great flavor and high quality, so I picked up a can of whole San Marzano tomatoes, and I made fresh whole wheat pasta. This dish was so clean in flavors, and simple, but so delicious! I'm not one to eat whole cooked tomatoes (I prefer to use crushed), but when you spear a pasta noodle with a chunk of ricotta and a piece of tomato, it's heaven.

Pasta with Sweet Tomato Sauce and Baked Ricotta
via Cate, by Jamie Oliver

1 15-ounce container ricotta, drained in a cheesecloth-lined strainer for a few hours
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
salt and pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes in juice
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar (I didn't use b/c of the San Marzano's tomatoes natural sweetness)
1 pound wide pasta, such as pappardelle
a handful of fresh basil, torn (I used fresh oregano)
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan (omitted)

After you’ve drained the ricotta, preheat the oven to 400F.
Put a piece of foil on a baking sheet and put the ricotta in the center.
Flatten it so you have a 1″ thick disk.
Rub all over with 1 tbsp olive oil, then sprinkle with oregano, salt and pepper.
Bake for about 15 minutes, then remove and set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil to cook the pasta.
Heat the other tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan.
Add the onion and garlic and cook over medium until soft, 3 or 4 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and simmer for about 15 minutes, then crush the tomatoes with a spoon.
Taste and add sugar (optional), salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar.
When the pasta is cooked, drain and reserve some of the pasta water.
Toss the cooked with the sauce and a tablespoon or two of pasta water and the tomato sauce, and basil. Crumble up the ricotta and add to the pasta with the parmesan cheese.

We nibbled the edges while waiting for the sauce...

Expensive, but so worth it!


Tasha said...

I just was browsing her blog last night and this recipe totally jumped out at me too. Can't wait to try it!

Cate said...

I'm so glad you liked it...Jamie Oliver is a genius! Do you have a whole wheat pasta recipe you can recommend? Can you just sub in whole wheat flour for regular in any pasta recipe? Thanks!

KMAYS said...

I've been meaning to make this as well. Maybe this weekend!

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

You can't go wrong with J.O.! Looks tasty, I love homemade pasta and baked ricotta sounds wonderful.

Joanne said...

I am SO with you on the Polly-O. When I lived in Boston, I almost died without it (who knew it wasn't a national brand?). Now that I'm back in NY, I use it all the time.

This dish looks absolutely amazing! I am SO bookmarking it.

Sophie @ yumventures said...

I've never had baked ricotta, but it looks amazing! Plus I love anything by Jamie Oliver, he is definitely my chef crush =)