Pasta With Tomato Sauce and Baked Ricotta

April 12, 2012 at 9:00 am 1 comment

I can’t believe it’s already April! Easter has come and gone, and summer will be here before we know it. It’s crazy!

I love the warm weather though. It gives me so much more energy and brightens my mood. Everything has turned green, flowers are blooming everywhere; Ah, I love spring!

Except for the tornados…I could do without those. And allergies. Not a fan of those either.

Spring makes me want to grill things, and have lots of picnics and garden parties! Actually, I’ve never had a garden party…or a tea party. I’m not that cool. They’re kind of the same though I think, except you don’t have to have tea at a garden party. I’m not a big tea drinker, so I would want to have a garden party instead of a tea party I think…
Maybe I should do that. Even if it’s only for just my parents, Hisa, and me. Having a garden party sounds fun. I must think on this…

As some of you know, I’ve taken up cheese making recently. I’ve only made two cheeses so far, but I’m working my way up to hard cheeses (I just need to build that dang cheese press!).

For my first cheese, I wanted to make something simple, so I decided to go with ricotta cheese. Obviously I needed to cook something requiring the use of ricotta cheese, so I decided to try out a recipe from one of my Jamie Oliver cookbooks, Jamie’s Dinners. It’s a simple pasta dish with tomato sauce, but it also has baked ricotta cheese added to it for a nice twist. Really any pasta will work with this, but I used rigatoni since it has large holes to hold the chunky bits of cheese and sauce. And because I just like rigatoni. And jumbo pasta shells. I dunno why. Large pasta and chunky sauces make me happy. That’s how I roll.

Like I said, this is a simple pasta to make. Buying jars of marinara sauce is a real waste of money in my opinion, because it really is so easy and cheap to make your own. This sauce consists of a little olive oil, diced onion, minced garlic, a couple cans of whole or crushed tomatoes, a couple tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, a pinch of sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. A little dried or fresh basil too if you want. Easy.

For the baked ricotta part, simply bake a 1 pound piece of ricotta (I bet you never saw that coming, right?). I made my own ricotta, so it was nice and firm, but if you’re using store bought ricotta that comes in those plastic tubs, you might pour it in a colander lined with cheese cloth, and drain off some of the liquid (i.e. whey) so it’s more firm before you bake it. If you can, try to find a wrapped piece of ricotta cheese rather than the tubs. It’ll be firmer and, thus, better for this recipe.
Either way, pre-heat your oven to 400° F (200° C). Place your ricotta in a baking dish, rub it all over with olive oil, some salt and pepper, a teaspoon of dried oregano, and a little dried red chili flakes. Bake it for 20 – 30 minutes, or until it’s golden brown on top and firm.

Boil your pasta according to the package instructions, drain it, toss it with the tomato sauce, and crumble the baked ricotta over it and mix it all up. You can tear up some fresh basil leaves and throw those in as well if you want.

I had no fresh basil leaves, so I just sprinkled a little dried basil on top. Voilà! (I like saying that…or I guess I should say typing that…….I’m so easily amused.)

 

Pasta with Tomato Sauce and Baked Ricotta

(serves 4)

  • 1 lb. piece ricotta cheese
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. dried red chili flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 (14 oz.) cans of whole or crushed tomatoes
  • 3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 lb. rigatoni, pappardelle (a wide-ribbon pasta), or whatever pasta you want
  • 1 tsp. dried basil or a handful of fresh basil leaves (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to  400° F (200° C). Rub ricotta all over with olive oil and place in a baking dish. Sprinkle with oregano, chili flakes, salt, and pepper. Bake 20 – 30 minutes, or until golden brown and firm. Set aside.
  2. Heat a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Saute onion and garlic for a few minutes until tender. Add tomatoes, and simmer gently for about 15 minutes. Break up tomatoes with spoon (if you used whole tomatoes).
  3. Add the balsamic vinegar and sugar. Mix well and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Boil pasta according to package instructions. Drain the pasta and add it to the pot with the sauce. Toss well. Crumble the baked ricotta cheese into the pot with the pasta. Add the dried or fresh basil if desired. Serve.

recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver

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Entry filed under: Baking, Italian food, Pasta, Recipes, Vegetarian. Tags: , , , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Jayne  |  April 12, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    Looks delicious!

    Guess I’ll have to look up how to make ricotta. I’m sure homemade is much better than store bought.

    Reply

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About Me

My name is Rachel. I'm a small-town girl born and raised in Oklahoma, currently living in Japan, who likes cooking, baking, reading, working out, and traveling. Join me in my culinary adventures, my domestic doings, and the story of my life, one day at a time.

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