This Ricotta Tomato Pasta Sauce (Rigatoni al Pomodoro e Ricotta) is rich, creamy and downright comforting – – everything you can ask for in a pasta dish! While not traditional the addition of Italian Sausage makes it even more satisfying. With only 6 basic ingredients, be prepared to have this delightful dinner ready and on the table in 20 minutes.
Ingredients in Ricotta Tomato Pasta Sauce with Italian Sausage:
Passata. A fresh and delicious tomato sauce made from tomatoes that have been puréed and then passed through a fine sieve to remove any chunks and seeds. Sometimes salt is added, but that’s it. Mutti is my favorite brand and is made with 100% sundried Italian tomatoes and has a rich, luscious, velvety texture. It is absolutely perfect for making quick sauces that don’t simmer for a long period of time. Think 30 minutes or less. If you don’t have easy access to passata a good substitute would be a high quality tomato puree.
Onion. Finely chopping the onion allows it to melt into the sauce and gives background notes of tangy and sweet, almost an Unami flavor profile.
Ricotta Cheese. What does ricotta cheese taste like? Ricotta cheese has a smooth, creamy texture that is mild in nature making it perfect to use in both sweet and savory applications. It is often described as being close to cottage cheese but without the curdy, lumpy texture.
Fresh Basil. So wonderfully peppery with a hint of anise. Add the basil at the last minute or so of cooking which is just enough time to activate those oils and chemical compounds so that the flavors and aromas are at their heightened.
Rigatoni. One of the most commonly used pasta in Italy, best known for its connection with Southern Italian cooking. The ridges of the rigatoni, together with the wide center, helps capture the sauce perfectly and also helps contain any large vegetables or meats.
Italian Sausage. Oh all of my Italian friends please don’t hate me, but we absolutely love Italian sausage in this Ricotta Tomato Pasta Sauce. It has wonderful undertones of fennel, garlic, and anise which helps enhance the fresh basil. Of course this is obviously optional and also feel free to omit for a vegetarian option.
Parmesan Reggiano cheese for serving.
How to Make Ricotta Tomato Pasta Sauce:
Remove Italian sausage from casings and brown well in a large skillet. Drain and set aside.
Add onions to the pan and cook until translucent. (Add a little olive oil if there is not enough fat leftover from the Italian sausage.)
While the onions are sautéing, bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil and cook the rigatoni about 1-2 minutes less than package directions.
Add your passata to the skillet and bring to a slow simmer.
Place the ricotta cheese in a bowl and add the starchy pasta water, spoonful at a time, and mix until creamy but not runny.
Slowly stir in the ricotta mixture into the passata, add torn basil, reserved Italian sausage, and rigatoni. Cook for an additional two to three minutes until the basil is nice and fragrant.
Serve with fresh grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese.
If you love it, leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you and this would help me with future recipes!
Contact me if you would like to see any of your childhood favorites updated or reinvented.
Ricotta Tomato Pasta Sauce with Italian Sausage
- 16 oz Rigatoni
- 1 lb. fresh mild Italian sausage removed from any casings
- 24.5 oz passata
- 1/2 Onion finely diced
- 8 oz ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup fresh basil
- Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil.
- Heat a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add Italian sausage, crumbling while browning well. Draft on a paper towel lined plate and set aside. Leave a tablespoon or two of the fat in the pan.
- While the sausage is browning, add the rigatoni to the boiling salted water and cook 2 minutes less than package directions.
- Add onion to the pan and sauté until just turning translucent.
- Add the passata to the sauteing onions and bring to a low simmer.
- While the passata is simmering, add the ricotta cheese to a bowl and add 1/4 cup of pasta water at a time until the ricotta is smooth and creamy but not runny.
- Add the ricotta mixture to the passata together with the reserved Italian sausage, torn basil, and rigatoni. (*Tear the basil at the end so you don't take the chance of it bruising.)
- Cook 2-3 minutes longer until the basil is fragrant. `
- Serve immediately with fresh grated Parmesan Reggiano.