Pasta with Tomato Sauce and Ricotta

Preparation info

  • Makes


    Main-Course Servings
    • Difficulty


Appears in

Get in There and Cook: A Master Class for the Starter Chef

Get in There and Cook

By Richard Sax

Published 1997

  • About

This is one of the simplest pasta dishes, based on a dish I ate at Trattoria da Alfredo in Greenwich Village in the 1970s. The sautéed sliced mushrooms are optional, but they add nice texture and flavor notes.


  • cups Basic Chunky Tomato Sauce
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 pound ricotta cheese, preferably freshly made
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, or more to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)
  • 1½ to 2 cups (2 to 4 ounces) thickly sliced mushrooms (optional, Mushroom Basics)
  • 1 pound wide pasta, such as green tagliatelle or fettuccine, preferably fresh
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or parsley
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving


    1. Prepare the tomato sauce. Keep warm in a nonreactive medium saucepan. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Add a little salt.
    2. Meanwhile, in a large serving bowl, use a wooden spoon to beat the ricotta with salt and pepper to taste and nutmeg until fluffy. Set aside at room temperature.
    3. If you’d like to include sautéed mushrooms in this dish, heat the butter and olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms; sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and let them sit for a few moments until sizzling. Sauté, tossing frequently with a wooden spoon, until lightly golden, about 4 minutes longer. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
    4. Add the pasta to the boiling water and boil until just tender, usually 2 to 3 minutes for fresh pasta, longer for dried. Drain well.
    5. Divide the pasta among 4 warmed serving bowls (or arrange in a large serving bowl). Ladle the hot tomato sauce over the pasta, dividing equally. Gently spoon the ricotta mixture over the center of each portion. Scatter the mushrooms over, if using, then sprinkle with the basil or parsley. Serve immediately, passing grated Parmesan cheese and a pepper mill at the table.