I love paccheri, big fat pasta tubes that trap sauce inside and close and open as you spear one with your fork, sometimes making a smacking noise. They’re fun to eat.
Hungry, low energy? You’ll be eating this dish in the time it takes to boil the pasta.
A few quality ingredients create a sumptuous dish, pasta coated with creamy ricotta, piquant grated cheeses, a sweet tomato sauce with torn fresh basil strewn on top. I can’t stop eating it.
- 28-ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes, squashed by hand
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed & peeled
- 1 large sprig of fresh basil for the sauce and more as a garnish
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon sea salt for the pasta water and more for the sauce
- 1 cup whole milk ricotta
- Additional ricotta as a garnish
- 1/4 cup grated pecorino
- 1/4 cup grated parmigiano
- Put the San Marzano tomatoes in a large bowl and crush them into small pieces with you hands. (For a smother sauce pass the tomatoes through a food mill.)
- Put a big covered pot of water on the stove for the paccheri and add the sea salt.
- Put another pot over medium-high heat and add the olive oil and garlic. Saute until the garlic starts to take on color.
- Add the crushed tomatoes to the pot and add sea salt to taste.
- Add the fresh basil sprig and dried oregano. Stir well.
- Reduce the heat to medium and let the sauce gently simmer. Stir once in a while. You want the sauce to thicken, reduced in volume by about a third.
- Put the ricotta and grated cheeses in a large bowl and mix them well.
- When the water boils add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 10-12 minutes.
- When the pasta is cooked reserve a cup of the cooking water, drain and add the pasta to the bowl with the cheese. Mix to coat the pasta well with the cheese mixture.
- Add about 2 cups of marinara sauce to the pasta and mix well. Add more sauce or pasta water if the sauced paccheri is too dry. You want a loose creamy sauce to coat the pasta well.
- Plate the paccheri, add some sauce on top, scatter with thinly sliced or ripped basil and put a dollop of ricotta on the side. Serve immediately.
- Pass more grated cheese at the table.
This is a versatile recipe that I use for baked ziti too. Just add fresh mozzarella cut in small cubes and ripped basil to the pasta mixture and mix well. Put a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of a baking dish, pour in the pasta in an even layer and top with more sauce and grated cheese. Bake in a 375 degree pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes or until the pasta is heated through, the mozzarella melts and the top layer of ziti starts to crisp at the edges.