Paccheri Pasta with Ricotta & San Marzano Marinara Sauce

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.

Ingredients

  • 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
  • Cheeses
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta
  • Additional ricotta as a garnish
  • 1/4 cup grated pecorino
  • 1/4 cup grated parmigiano

Cooking Directions

  1. 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.)
  2. Put a big covered pot of water on the stove for the paccheri and add the sea salt.
  3. Put another pot over medium-high heat and add the olive oil and garlic. Saute until the garlic starts to take on color.
  4. Add the crushed tomatoes to the pot and add sea salt to taste.
  5. Add the fresh basil sprig and dried oregano. Stir well.
  6. 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.
  7. Put the ricotta and grated cheeses in a large bowl and mix them well.
  8. When the water boils add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 10-12 minutes.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.