Inspired by the Half Baked Harvest shells recipe (unstuffed stuffed shells) this pasta with Calabrian hot honey ricotta is a delicious and easy way to enjoy pasta with ricotta.
This pasta with hot honey ricotta is so delicious and fairly easy to prepare. Fortunately, making unstuffed stuffed shells requires way less effort than traditional stuffed shells!
The secret ingredient in this recipe? Calabrian hot honey. Prepared with Calabrian chili peppers and orange blossom honey, this spicy honey adds a deliciously rich, sweet, spicy flavor to the ricotta.
How to make this pasta with Calabrian hot honey ricotta:
This recipe is simple to prepare but it does require a bit of prep.
First, cook a diced onion until softened and golden brown. Add tomato paste and mash it lightly into the onion. Next, melt butter into the pot and add chili flakes and dry crushed thyme.
Once the paste deepens in color, add whole-peeled tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook, breaking the tomatoes up, for about 30 minutes until the sauce is reduced and jammy. Season with salt and pepper.
Next, whip the ricotta. Combine ricotta, milk, lemon juice, hot honey, and Calabrian chili oil (optional) in a bowl and use a hand mixer or whisk to mix until smooth and creamy. Transfer to the refrigerator as you finish the rest of the recipe.
From there, simply cook up the shells until al dente and add a splash of the pasta water to the sauce. Add the cooked shells to the sauce and toss to combine. Serve it up by spooning the ricotta onto plates, piling the pasta and sauce on top, and garnishing the meal as you like. I served mine with toasted pine nuts and parsley but try this with slivered almonds or even pumpkin seeds.
Loved this copycat Half Baked Harvest shells recipe? Looking for more pasta recipes? Check my archives!
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Pasta with Calabrian Hot Honey Ricotta
- Large pot
- Hand mixer or whisk
- Sieve or colander
- Small pot, optional
- 2 teaspoons neutral oil
- 1 onion peeled and diced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper or use paprika
- ½ teaspoon dry thyme crushed
- 28- ounce can whole-peeled tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon sugar more or less to taste to soften the acidity of the canned tomatoes
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon Calabrian hot honey
- 2 teaspoons Calabrian chili oil optional
- 12 ounces jumbo shells
- 2 ounces pine nuts or slivered almonds optional
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil optional
- Fresh or dry minced parsley
Start the sauce:
- Heat the oil in a wide pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the diced onion and cook for 7–10 minutes until softens and turns golden brown.
- Add that tomato paste and cook for 1–2 minutes until it darkens slightly.
- Melt the butter into the paste and add the pepper flakes and dry thyme. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring often until the paste deepens in color and the aromatics become fragrant.
Simmer the sauce:
- Pour in the whole-peeled tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Add the sugar. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer, breaking up with the tomatoes with a spoon as it cooks until the sauce is thickened. Add water or stock as necessary if the sauce reduces too quickly or sticks to the bottom.
Cook the pasta:
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When the sauce is about 10 minutes away from finishing cooking, add the pasta. Right before draining, scoop out 1/4 cup of pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta and set it aside. Time this so that you are draining the pasta right as the sauce finishes simmering!
Prepare the whipped ricotta:
- In a bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, milk, lemon juice, hot honey, and chili oil if using. Season with salt. Using a hand mixer or whisk, blend the ricotta until smooth and creamy. Transfer to the refrigerator until needed.
Prepare the pine nuts (if using):
- Place the pine nuts in a small pot. Add the extra virgin olive oil and transfer it to the stovetop. Turn the heat to medium. Once the oil bubbles, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes until the nuts turn light golden brown. Turn off the heat and set them aside.
Finish the pasta:
- Taste the sauce and season to your preferences. Add the pasta cooking water to the sauce and bring to a low boil. Add the cooked shells and reduce heat to low. Toss to coat for 1 minute or until the pasta is completely coated with sauce. Turn off the heat.
- Spoon the whipped ricotta onto plates and pile the cooked pasta on top. Garnish with more hot honey and scatter the pine nuts on top. Sprinkle fresh or dry parsley on each plate. Enjoy!