February 28, 2022
Folks, I finally visited my sister Mia and her family in Rome last fall. My husband and I were last there for our honeymoon in 2016. Life got busy, then Covid. Ugh.
I ate my way through my two-week visit, feasting on all the delights I had been so sadly deprived of for five years. Pasta, pizza, focaccia, pastry, you name it, I was eating it. I made sure to buy numerous pounds of Rummo pasta, so much so that I had to buy a new suitcase for the trip home. That's the kind of gal I am. I walked right past the Gucci/Fendi/Prada fashion extravaganza with ne'er a glance and zoned in on the friendly man selling roasted chestnuts on the street corner. Food. Is. My. Thing.
Mia's husband Enrico, who we like to call Dr. Rick, is a loving and kind man who knows his way around the kitchen. He cooked a few delicious meals while I was there, and one that stood out to me was his pasta with ricotta and sausage. I had forgotten how much I love this perfect combination, so a big thank you to Dr. Rick for putting it back on my radar and into my dinner rotation. I added a few tweaks, such as using bulk sausage rather than links and some lemon zest to balance out the dish's richness.
Thank you to Mia, Enrico, my nephew Mario, and the two most awesome doggies in the world, Eric and Dudu, for showing me so much love while I was there. I hope you make this and leave me a comment with your feedback!
16 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound mild Italian sausage (bulk, if you can't find that, use links)
1 pound pasta, (I used medium shells. Fusilli, orecchiette or any short pasta would be great too)!
1 tablespoon toasted, crushed fennel seeds
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Fill pasta pot with water and bring to a boil. Add enough Kosher salt to make it taste like the sea.
In a bowl large enough to fit the cooked pasta, whisk the ricotta, Parmigiano, lemon zest, and salt until combined. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil on medium heat in a large sautée pan so the sausage will sizzle and sear when it hits the pan. When the oil is hot enough, add the sausage and let it sit for a few minutes without moving it. Then, carefully check underneath to see if the bottom is browning. If not, let it cook a minute or two more. Turn the sausage over in the pan and brown the other side. You can use a wooden spoon to start breaking it into bite-size pieces. When the sausage is done (about 10 minutes), set the pan aside.
Cook the pasta a minute or two shy of the package directions to get that incredible al dente texture. Before draining the pasta, reserve 1/3 cup of the pasta water and whisk it with the ricotta mixture until smooth. Drain the pasta and add it to the bowl along with the sausage. Stir gently, taste and adjust the seasoning.
Serve topped with a sprinkle of fennels seeds, a scrunch of black pepper, fresh parsley, and more Parmiggiano if you'd like. Enjoy!