We are now midway through summer and the best of the fresh, ripe tomatoes are everywhere. We have dined out several times recently and have seen a variation of this recipe on almost every menu. This pasta recipe epitomizes why Italian cuisine is so great, as it simply uses fresh tomatoes, ricotta cheese, and a few seasoning ingredients and you end up with a delicious plate of pasta. Although this dish could be prepared from top to finish easily in under 30 minutes I find it best to cut the tomatoes and let them rest in the seasonings at least an hour before I put the pasta on to boil. I used a sedano pasta, but any short pasta such as shells, penne, or rigatoni would work fine. You do not have to peel the tomatoes, but I do gently squeeze out some of the seeds and cut out the core. I am lucky enough here in Umbria to be able to buy ricotta di pecora (sheep’s milk ricotta) just about anywhere, but any good quality ricotta cheese would work fine. The key to this recipe is using very ripe, full flavored tomatoes, and I find pachino or plum tomatoes work best although you can also use larger cherry tomatoes.
Deborah Mele 2011
- 1 Pound Dried Short Pasta (See Note Above)
- 1 Pound Ripe Plum Tomatoes
- 2 Cloves Garlic, Peeled & Finely Minced
- Salt & Pepper
- 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 4 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Fresh Basil
- 1 (8 Ounce Container) Full Fat Ricotta Cheese
- Fresh Basil Leaves
- Toasted Pine Nuts
- Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Cheese
- One hour or more before dinner wash the tomatoes and cut them in half.
- With a sharp knife cut out the core end and run your finger along the inside to remove most of the seeds.
- Cut the tomatoes into a coarse dice (about 1/2 inch pieces) and place in a bowl.
- Continue to cut all the tomatoes in the same manner.
- Add the garlic, basil, and olive oil to the bowl and stir. season with salt and pepper and cover until needed.
- Place a large pot of salted water on to boil, then cook the pasta until it is al dente, and then drain.
- Return the pasta to the pot, and add the tomato mixture, and mix well.
- Add the ricotta cheese to the pot and toss well until the pasta is coated in the cheese.
- Spoon into individual bowls and top with a sprinkling of grated cheese.
- Garnish each bowl with fresh basil leaves and toasted pine nuts.