What To Do With Leftover Ricotta Cheese?
I love ricotta cheese so much that I could eat it straight from the tub (and even better, mixed with salt, pepper, and some herbs.) And this is good because it seems that any recipe that calls for ricotta ends with plenty leftover. But I thought there might be a more interesting way to finish off a tub.
I posed this question to my parents on a recent visit: “What do you do with leftover ricotta?” The answer: “Your grandmother used to make ricotta pasta. She’d stir it into cooked pasta with a little pasta water.” Well, if it’s good enough for my Italian grandmother, it’s good enough for me. So I decided to create a simple recipe based on my parents’ memory.
Easy and Fast Ricotta Pasta
You can’t get much easier than a five ingredient pasta (plus pasta water!) I chose to use spaghetti because I like to twirl my pasta. I tend to think spaghetti-adjacent pastas (fettuccine, linguine, etc.) are more fun to eat. But any pasta is fine because this is pretty much a pantry clean-out recipe.
I like this recipe so much that I might start buying ricotta cheese just to make it!
- ½ lb pasta of your choice I like spaghetti!
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 shallot chopped fine
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes up to 1 tsp if you like a lot of spice
- 1 cup ricotta cheese whole milk is best
- ¼ cup Pecorino Romano (or Parmesan) cheese grated; plus a bit more for serving
- ½ cup pasta water you may not use all of this
- Cook the pasta according the package directions. Make sure you salt the water well as this will season the pasta. Cook pasta until it's al dente–cooked but firm to the bite.
- While the pasta is cooking, place a high sided pan on the stove over medium heat. Add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the shallots. Cook the shallots for about 2 minutes until they start to soften and go translucent. Then add the red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring well, for another minute or until the shallots just start to go brown at the edges. If the pasta isn't done yet, pull the pan off the heat and wait.
- Once the pasta is cooked, use tongs (longer pastas) or a slotted spoon (shorter pastas) to move the pasta straight from the water to the pan with the shallots, red pepper flakes, and oil. Mix the pasta well to coat with all of the flavored oil.
- Add the ricotta cheese and a few heavy splashes of pasta water from the pot (using a glass measuring cup.) Use about 1/4 cup of pasta water. Stir the ricotta and water into the pasta creating a smooth sauce.
- Add the Pecorino (or Parmesan) cheese with another splash of water. Keep stirring until the sauce is smooth and starts to thicken. If the sauce gets too thick for your liking add a bit more pasta water to thin it out.
- That's it. Serve in a large bowl with another sprinkle of grated cheese.