Roasted Garlic Ricotta Pasta Sauce
I’m trying to think if there’s any kitchen scent I would rank above the smell of roasted garlic. I seriously can’t think of one. Any time I roast a clove of garlic, I want to open my windows, not to let the smell out, but to give the rest of the neighborhood a little taste of the deliciousness.
It makes me hungry just writing about it.
The hard part about roasting garlic is, well, nothing technically. It’s about the easiest thing you can do in a kitchen. The hard part is not eating all the cloves, one at a time on crackers or toast, before you make what you are actually supposed to be making. If you’re me, just roast two bulbs of the stuff and use one for snacking and one for recipe making. Problem solved.
In this case, I made one of the better pasta sauces I’ve had in a while. If you’re in a pasta rut with marinara or some boring jarred Alfredo sauce, this roasted garlic ricotta pasta sauce is a must try!
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the tip off the garlic bulb, just exposing the cloves. Drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt. Wrap the bulb in foil and roast for 30 minutes. Let garlic cool and then squeeze out roasted cloves into a bowl.
2) To roasted garlic, add a pinch of salt and mash together with a fork. Stir in ricotta cheese, lemon zest, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
3) Cook 12-16 oz. pasta according to package. Reserve 2 cups of pasta water from the cooking process when you drain the pasta.
4) To finish the sauce, add ricotta base to a pot with pasta sauce in a 2-1 sauce-to-water ratio. You can finish the sauce in batches or all at once in this way. If you add the whole ricotta sauce base to a pot, you’ll want to add at least a cup of reserved pasta water and maybe a bit more. Stir hot pasta water into the ricotta over low heat and continue to stir until it’s smooth and thick.
5) Divide cooked pasta between bowls and top with pasta sauce. Garnish each bowl of pasta with chopped basil, red pepper flakes, and lemon zest.
Roasted Garlic Ricotta Pasta Sauce
This sauce is really easy to make but it does take about a half hour just to roast the garlic bulb. Not that it’s hard though. Toss it in the oven and go do something else for 30 minutes. It’s hard to screw up.
I just slice the top off the bulb and drizzle with some olive oil and kosher salt and wrap it tightly in foil. After 30 minutes, you’ll have a beautiful thing.
If you’ve never had roasted garlic, you are missing out. It’s so good. You can literally just eat the cloves by themselves. They are sweet and flavorful and have just a touch of the garlic bite.
Once they are roasted, you can use your fingers to just squeeze the cloves out of the paper wrapping.
Mash together the garlic cloves with a pinch of salt until they are in a rough paste. Then mix in ricotta, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of black pepper.
Finishing the Sauce
At this point you basically just have a ricotta mixture. The secret to making it a smooth sauce, perfect for pasta, is one thing: hot pasta water.
So, cook your pasta and set your ricotta mixture aside. I like to use fusilli but I guess any pasta works fine. Save about 2 cups of the starchy pasta water.
Then add the ricotta mixture to a pot over low heat in about a 2-1 ratio of ricotta-to-water. So if you’re just making one or two servings, you might add one cup of ricotta mixture with 1/2 cup of hot pasta water.
If you’re making the full batch, you’ll want to add 1 cup of reserved pasta water to the mixture and stir it together over low heat. It’ll turn smooth and creamy in no time.
At this point you can stir some of the cooked pasta into the sauce in the pan if you want.
Or, I actually thought it was better to keep the sauce smooth in the pot, divide the noodles between bowls, and pour the hot sauce over each bowl. You can garnish each bowl with some basil, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes.
You would think this is some kind of fancy cream based pasta sauce, but it’s so easy to make and the roasted garlic totally makes it unique.
Who’s a roasted garlic fan?! Raise your hand! ✋