5 Ingredients or Fewer

Pasta with Ricotta and Saffron (Pasta alla Barbara)

March 17, 2015
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  • Serves 2
Author Notes

When I lived in Siena, Italy, my host mother Barbara would often make this dish from her favorite TV food personality Benedetta Parodi. A sort of Italian Rachael Ray, Benedetta has a knack for fast family friendly dishes, as evidenced by the fact even my picky 2 year old host sister delightedly gobbled this down. I love how using just a little saffron turns ordinary pasta into something much more special. The key is to use fresh, creamy ricotta. At that point, you are only 10 minutes away from a weeknight dinner worthy of the finest Italian restaurant. —chez_mere

What You'll Need
  • 6 ounces bucatini or pici pasta (spaghetti is fine in a pinch)
  • 6 ounces fresh ricotta - the good stuff only please
  • 2 pinches saffron
  • 1 ounce Pecorino cheese, finely grated
  • to taste fresh black pepper
  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, well salted water according to package directions. Begin checking for doneness about 90 seconds before the suggested cooking time to ensure your pasta is perfectly al dente. Reserve 1/2 c. of the starchy cooking water before draining.
  2. While pasta is cooking, lightly toast saffron in a small skillet over medium heat until fragrant. Crush with your fingertips or the back of a wooden spoon, then add ricotta and half of the Pecorino. Stir to combine and turn the heat off, but leave the pan on the burner to just warm the ricotta while the pasta finishes up.
  3. Add the drained pasta to the ricotta and toss well, adding the reserved pasta water as needed to make a thick, creamy sauce. Add a few grinds of fresh black pepper and serve promptly topped with the remaining Pecorino cheese.

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