My father had a rotation of a few go-to dishes he would make for me and my sister when my mother was working or studying, and one of them is an easy, but still super-tasty favorite of mine: ricotta, pasta, and tomato sauce. Usually he went with rotelli. He’d make the pasta, throw it in a bowl with the ricotta while it was still warm a few times, and then toss it with tomato sauce. It’s creamy and tangy, and it’s replete with all the true simple goodness and flavor of growing up in an Italian-American household. I play with this recipe all the time, throwing in cold goat cheese at the last second, fancying up the pasta, making my own sauce, but at the base of it, this is Pop’s dish. Here, instead of using a jar of sauce, you can make a simple homemade cherry tomato sauce in less than 20 minutes, and used some fancypants stracciatella and ricotta with homemade garganelli from Eataly. It’s a much more expensive version of a dish whose inspiration was kind of totally the complete opposite: a reasonably priced, soul-satisfying, red-sauce dinner. Why? Because it takes all those quintessential flavors to their next level. Regardless, let’s just say by the time you boil your water, it will be ready to go. And hey Pop, thanks for dinner.
*Note: You can also use an equivalent amount of burrata or fresh mozzarella.
Warm the oil and butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the crushed garlic and simmer momentarily. Add the tomatoes, water, and bay leaf, and cover for 10 minutes.
Then, add the salt, pepper, red chile pepper flakes, basil, and cook, stirring, until all the tomatoes burst, about 10-15 more minutes. Adjust the seasoning, and serve.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Then, add salt, to taste. Cook the pasta until al dente and drain, reserving a ladleful of salted-starchy pasta water to add to your sauce (make sure to reduce it on high heat accordingly).
Cut the stracciatella into 4 pieces. In a large bowl, mix together the stracciatella and ricotta. Toss the pasta with the cheese. Ladle the sauce into the bottom of a bowl, ladle in the cheese-coated pasta, top with some sauce, Parmesan, and basil, and serve.