This dried-pasta dish is super easy to make. It's called "al brucio" because of the spicy flavor. It originally did not include ricotta, but that helps balance the spiciness of the sauce. You can also top it with a spoon of burrata at the very end, or even a slice of buffalo mozzarella. At Felidia, we make it with candele pasta, an extra-long, smooth pasta that is tubular, hollow and wide, like a rigatoni, and looks like a long candle.
Technique tip: If you don't get at least a heaping cup of ricotta, you can reheat the liquid and repeat the process, using more lemon juice to recurdle it.
Homemade Ricotta (makes 2 to 3 cups)
- 2 quarts whole milk, preferably organic
- 1 cup heavy cream, preferably organic
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes
- 1 pinch sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon peperoncino flakes, or to taste
- 1 pound dried penne rigate
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, shredded
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Grana Padano, plus more for serving
- 1/2 cup fresh ricotta (recipe above)
For the homemade ricotta:
1. Line a large sieve with a double layer of damp cheesecloth and set this over a bowl. Combine the milk, cream, buttermilk, and salt in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, and slowly bring to a boil.
2. Add the lemon juice and reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Stir gently until the mixture begins to curdle, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit without stirring for 5 minutes.
3. Pour the mixture through the cheesecloth and let drain about 20-30 minutes. What's left in the cloth is the ricotta. Chill until ready to use.
For the pasta:
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Heat 4 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook until the garlic just begins to turn golden, 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and sugar, and cook, tossing occasionally, until the tomatoes break down, 7-8 minutes, adding the peperoncino once the tomatoes give up their juice.
2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta until just al dente, remove it with a strainer, and add to the tomatoes in the skillet along with about cup pasta water. Toss to coat the pasta in the sauce; then simmer until the sauce comes together, about 2-3 minutes, adding a little more pasta water if it seems dry.
3. Remove the skillet from the heat, drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and sprinkle with the basil and grated Grana Padano. Season with salt and toss well. Remove the rosemary sprigs and garlic, and discard. Spoon the pasta into individual shallow bowls and spoon a fresh dollop of ricotta on top of each one.