This one-pot recipe has an almost pesto-like flavor to it, thanks to the combination of grated garlic, lemon, olive oil, and Parmesan. Rather than blending it, these ingredients, plus sumac, are mixed in a bowl while the pasta cooks. Toss with some pasta water to create a rich, flavorful sauce without a lot of work, or actual cooking for that matter, and you'll have a meal on the table in no time. Sumac, a dried ground berry, adds a bright, lemony flavor, and is often used in Persian cuisine for sprinkling on meat. It works wonderfully on this pasta to accentuate the lemon's tangy flavor.
Because this dish is so simple, it’s essential that all components hold their own. This means that the pasta water needs to be heavily salted so that the pasta itself is properly seasoned. Before you add in the pasta, taste the water, adding salt until it tastes like you just got knocked over by a wave and were left with a mouthful of saltwater (that’s how salty we are talking here).
Topping it with chopped mint leaves adds a subtle, refreshing aroma, and the green is a beautiful contrast to the deep purple of the sumac and white spots of ricotta. Ricotta is mixed in to add a creamy mouthful to the dish, but you can always skip the amount sprinkled on top if you want to keep it lighter.
Serve with a lightly dressed simple green salad, like arugula tossed with lemon, olive oil, a sprinkle of parmesan and black pepper.
- Prep time 10 minutes
- Cook time 20 minutes
- Serves 4
grated Parmesan cheese
large cloves garlic, grated or finely minced (about 1 teaspoon)
sumac, plus 1 teaspoon to garnish
lemon, zested (about 1 teaspoon) and juiced (about 2 tablespoons)
bucatini or other long, similar-shaped pasta
ricotta, drained and lightly salted
Freshly ground black pepper
fresh mint leaves and tender stems, roughly chopped (optional)
- Bring a large pot of very well-salted water to a boil. While the water is coming to a boil, combine the oil, parmesan, garlic, 2 teaspoons sumac, the lemon juice, most of the zest, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small bowl.
- Cook the bucatini according to the package directions, until the noodles are al dente and still have a little give to them (about 6 minutes).
- When the noodles are ready, stir in the spinach, let cook for 15 seconds, then drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water.
- Return to the pot to low heat. Immediately pour in the olive oil mixture and 1/4 cup pasta water, tossing until everything looks slick with oil, adding more pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce if it looks dry, about 1 minute more (you should see a tiny bit of liquid pooling on the bottom of the pot).
- Stir in half of the ricotta then top with the remaining ricotta, zest, and sumac, black pepper and mint, if using, and serve immediately.