Ricotta helps make pasta sauce a success


February 14, 2007|By Renee Enna | Renee Enna,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Thick, creamy pasta sauces don't have to be laden with calories, and they don't have to take forever to make. Sometimes it is just a matter of stirring in the right ingredient. In this case, ricotta cheese.

To borrow a tip from chef and cookbook author Mario Batali, hot pasta water is blended with the ricotta to "melt" it into a creamier texture. For this recipe, we broiled cherry tomatoes to get optimal flavor, and used their juice to help create the sauce when we mixed in the cheese. Balsamic vinegar and herbs add additional notes of flavor.

A sparkling rose wine would team well with this.

Renee Enna writes for the Chicago Tribune, which provided the recipe analysis.


Rigatoni with tomato-ricotta sauce

Tossed salad

Caponata with Italian bread

Meringue cookies and decaf espresso

Rigatoni With Tomato-Ricotta Sauce

Serves 4 -- Total time: 26 minutes

1/2 pound rigatoni

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

1 onion, diced

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste

freshly ground pepper

1 cup whole-milk or part-skim ricotta cheese

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Heat a pan of salted water to a boil; heat the broiler. Cook rigatoni according to package directions.

Meanwhile, place tomatoes and onion on a foil-lined, broiler-safe pan; drizzle on the oil, and add the Italian seasoning, salt and pepper to taste. Broil until tomatoes have curled and softened and onions are golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove pan from broiler; set aside.

Drain pasta, reserving about 1/4 cup of the hot water. Stir the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, into the ricotta until it reaches desired creamy texture. Place pasta in large bowl; toss with tomato-onion mixture. Add ricotta and basil, stirring just to combine. Add vinegar; toss.

Per serving: 391 calories, 13 grams fat, 6 grams saturated fat, 32 milligrams cholesterol, 52 grams carbohydrate, 16 grams protein, 366 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber

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