Rigatoni alla Pastora Print Email

(Shepherds Style Rigatoni with Ricotta & Sausage)
This humble recipe uses the ingredients a Calabrian shepherd might have on hand: fresh, homemade ricotta and a little sausage.

3/4 pound fresh sweet or hot Italian sausage
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound whole-milk ricotta
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound (450 grams) rigatoni or penne rigate (ridged pasta)
Freshly grated pecorino cheese, optional
Ground hot red pepper, optional

Remove the sausage casings. With a table knife, break the sausage up into small chunks about the size of an olive. Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook until browned all over, about 2 minutes. Keep warm.

Press the ricotta through a sieve into a large serving bowl. Add salt to taste and several grinds of black pepper.

Bring 5 quarts of water to a boil in an 8-quart pot over high heat. Add 1/4 cup kosher salt, then add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 10 minutes. Just before the pasta is done, whisk a few tablespoons of the hot pasta water into the ricotta to warm it and make it creamy and saucelike.

Set aside about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the skillet with the sausage and toss over high heat just until hot throughout. Transfer the pasta and sausage to the bowl with the ricotta and mix well, adding some of the reserved pasta cooking water if needed to moisten the pasta. Add pecorino and hot pepper if desired. Serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8

From My Calabria: Rustic Family Cooking from Italy's Undiscovered South by Rosetta Costantino with Janet Fletcher