Chef's Note: Opting to follow the crowds instead of the guidebooks, my husband, Doug, and I ended up in a packed working-class lunch spot in Naples one day.
After a glance around, we decided to have what everyone else was having: rigatoni in tomato sauce topped with a dollop of snow-white ricotta, followed by sautéed friarielle,
a dialect name for broccoli rabe, and cool, crisp grapes for dessert.
- 1/3 cup California Olive Ranch extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 tablespoons minced Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
- Pinch of hot pepper flakes
- 2 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, grated*
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta, at room temperature
- 1 pound rigatoni or penne rigate
Heat the California Olive Ranch extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over moderate heat. Add the garlic, 3 tablespoons of the parsley, and the hot pepper flakes and cook briefly to release the
fragrance of the seasonings. Add the tomatoes, season to taste with salt, and bring to a simmer. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the sauce
is thick and flavorful, about 20 minutes. If it threatens to cook dry before the flavors have melded, add a little water and continue simmering.
In a bowl, whisk the ricotta until smooth. Season to taste with salt and black pepper to taste.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until about 1 minute shy of al dente. Remove 1 cup of pasta water,
then drain the pasta and return it to the warm pot over moderately low heat. Add the tomato sauce and cook for about 1 minute to allow the pasta to
absorb some of the flavor of the sauce. Moisten with a little of the reserved pasta water as needed.
Divide the pasta among warm bowls. Top each portion with a dollop of ricotta and a sprinkle of the remaining 1 tablespoon parsley. Serve immediately.
Four Seasons Pasta (Chronicle Books, 2004) by Janet Fletcher. Reprinted with permission from the publisher.
* To grate tomatoes, you need a four-sided, stainless-steel box grater. Cut the tomatoes in half and scoop out the seeds and juice with your fingers. Holding the cut side of a tomato half against the grater's large holes, grate until only the thin tomato skin remains in your palm.