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):
Calories: 549kcal | Carbohydrates: 83g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 16g | Sodium: 458mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin C: 23mg