Bucatini With Ricotta & Sumac

July 12, 2021
6 Ratings
Photo by Linda Xiao
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

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.

What You'll Need
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 large cloves garlic, grated or finely minced (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 2 teaspoons sumac, plus 1 teaspoon to garnish
  • 1 lemon, zested (about 1 teaspoon) and juiced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 pound bucatini or other long, similar-shaped pasta
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup ricotta, drained and lightly salted
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves and tender stems, roughly chopped (optional)
  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. When the noodles are ready, stir in the spinach, let cook for 15 seconds, then drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water.
  4. 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).
  5. Stir in half of the ricotta then top with the remaining ricotta, zest, and sumac, black pepper and mint, if using, and serve immediately.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Smirabell
  • 4theloveOcheez
  • JV
Yasmin is a recipe developer and cookbook author. Her first book, Keeping it Simple, is full of easy, weeknight one-pot recipes. Say hi to her online @yasminfahr!

3 Reviews

Smirabell October 20, 2021
This was easy, delicious and a total crowd pleaser! Great for a quick and flavorful meal for a group.
4theloveOcheez July 12, 2021
This was delicious, we did omit a couple tsp of oil and still turned out fine.
JV March 31, 2021
This looks delicious! However I have to say, it was funny when the author said to make it lighter you could leave out half the ricotta... the oil in the recipe brings in over one thousand calories (1,280 to be exact) and that amount of ricotta is only 120cal :) cutting out even 2 tsp of oil from the 2/3 cup will “lighten” it up just as much as leaving out half the ricotta.

I share this just because people are often mislead by the creamy texture of ricotta to think it’s heavy/calorie dense/high fat/unhealthy. It’s actually comparable in nutrition to cottage cheese! It’s a lean, relatively low fat source of protein.

This is not to shame anyone making this recipe... I say eat the full amount of ricotta, and if you want to lighten it then tweak the oil amount!

For me personally, this recipe has far too much oil and would be quite a splurge, but I may try it with pasta water instead... thanks for the idea!