Pasta is definitely a staple in Calabria. I managed to strike gold by stumbling upon this traditional recipe for Rigatoni alla Pastora, which means Shepherd's Rigatoni. You can take from the name that it is a country dish made by the poor. As one might expect from that, it is a simple dish that can be thrown together in a matter of minutes.
The rigatoni is mixed with hot Italian sausage and a sauce made out of ricotta cheese. I would never have thought of using ricotta with pasta other than as a part of a filling. However, by mixing it with some water, it becomes a creamy, delicious sauce. The ricotta can be quite bland though, so it's important to bring in some other strong flavors through the sausage and the parmigiano cheese that is added at the end. I loved this dish, particularly with the rigatoni. The pasta's ridges allow it to grab more of the sauce, making it all the more delicious!
Rigatoni alla Pastora
Adapted from Welcome to Italy
1/2 pound rigatoni
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 links hot Italian sausage
6 ounces ricotta cheese
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as directed. Drain pasta, but retain 1/4 of a cup of the pasta water.
- While the pasta cooks, put the olive oil in a skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, remove the sausage from its casings and crumble it into a skillet. Cook until browned completely.
- Put the ricotta in a large bowl. Add pepper to taste.
- Slowly add the reserved pasta water to the ricotta cheese a little at a time. Using a whisk or fork, whisk the ricotta and water. Continue adding water until the sauce becomes the consistency that you want.
- When the sauce is done, add the pasta and the sausage to the sauce. Toss together well.
- Put the pasta in bowls. Top each serving with a generous helping of freshly grated parmigiano reggiano.
Ryan's Sue's rating of Rigatoni alla Pastora - 4.