Made with slow-simmered, jammy tomatoes and topped with a pillowy dollop of whipped ricotta cheese, this spicy, saucy pasta is the perfect accompaniment to a relaxing evening with friends.
Is there any dish more comforting—especially during the cold and dreary winter months—than pasta? This spicy pomodoro is made with a combination of slowly simmered cherry tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, fresh basil leaves and a generous pinch of spicy crushed red pepper flakes (or Calabrian chilis) for a touch of heat.
Cooking the tomatoes in this way, low and slow in olive oil, allows them to gently melt into a soft, jammy consistency. As they break down the liquid in the tomatoes is released and reduces into an intensely flavorful sauce. This recipe is a great way to enhance the flavor of less than perfect, winter tomatoes.
Here’s everything you’ll need: tomatoes (I use cherry, but really any fresh tomato is fine) olive oil, garlic, tomato paste, basil, sugar, ricotta cheese, heavy cream and crushed red pepper flakes or Calabrian chilis.
Recipe Step by Step:
Step 1. Make the Pomodoro Sauce
Combine the tomatoes, tomato paste, olive oil and garlic in a large skillet. Season generously with a big pinch of salt. Cook over medium-low heat. As the tomatoes cook, they’ll begin to soften and burst. As you stir to ingredients together use the back of a wooden spoon to crush the tomatoes and release their liquid.
Step 2. Whip the Ricotta
While the tomatoes are cooking add the ricotta, cream and salt to the base of a blender or food processor. Blend until mostly smooth then, with the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and continue processing. Set aside.
Step 3. Blend the Sauce
Once the tomatoes are cooked down and saucy, add the basil leaves, sugar and chili flakes. Transfer the sauce to a blender or food processor and pulse all of the ingredients together until evenly combined. Alternatively, if you don’t mind a coarser sauce you can skip the blender and simply break up any large chunks of tomato with a fork.
Step 4. Serve
To serve, combine the pasta and sauce together with a generous ladle of starchy pasta water. Toss to coat. Divide between bowls and top with a dollop of whipped ricotta.
More *Delicious* Pasta Recipes:
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Spicy Pomodoro Pasta with Whipped Ricotta
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 pounds cherry tomatoes
- 2 large cloves garlic thinly sliced or grated
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 6 large basil leaves
- ½ tsp sugar
- 1 pound short cut pasta
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes or 2 tsp chopped Calabrian chilis
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- In a large skillet or sauté pan over medium-low heat, combine the olive oil, tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes start to soften and break down about 30-45 minutes. Next, add the basil leaves, sugar and chili flakes, stir to combine then turn off the heat.The ripeness of the tomatoes will affect the flavor of the sauce, taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. If the sauce seems acidic add more sugar ½ tsp at a time.
- Allow the sauce to cool on the stove for 10-15 minutes, this will give the basil time to "steep" into the sauce, then transfer the sauce to a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Transfer the sauce baking into the skillet and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook off the pasta. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining.
- Over low heat, combine the cooked pasta together with the spicy pomodoro sauce and ½ cup of pasta water, toss everything together until the sauce evenly coats the pasta. Taste and season with salt as needed. Divide the pasta between bowls and top each serving with a generous dollop of whipped ricotta and a drizzle of olive oil.
- In a food processor or blender, combine ricotta, cream and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Blend briefly to combine, then, with the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and continue processing on high speed until the ricotta is smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.
- Cherry Tomatoes: Really, any fresh tomatos will work. Feel free to use what looks best at the market. If you are going to use larger tomatoes, cut them into large bite-sized pieces.
- Tomato Paste: While not authentic to a traditional Pomodoro sauce, I think the tomato paste adds a nice depth and body to the sauce. That being said, if you don’t have any on hand you can simply omit it.
- Short-Cut Pasta is made to capture hearty sauces in their sturdy grooves and hollows. Examples include; Penne, Rigatoni, Farfalle, Orecchiette etc. Use any that you like for this recipe.
- Leftover spicy pomodoro can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat over low heat in a saucepan or in the microwave. Add a few tablespoons of water to loosen up the sauce as needed.