Pasta with Tomatoes, Ricotta and Fresh Herbs

My absolute favorite dish in the late summer is a simple pasta made with juicy tomatoes, fresh herbs and light, creamy ricotta. It takes advantage of the late summer bounty, when the tomatoes are plump and ripe and the herbs are bright green and fragrant. There is no cooking involved other than boiling pasta.

The dish is delicious with just basil, but a combination of herbs adds the surprise of enjoying different flavor combinations in each bite. Just use more of the mild herbs like basil and parsley and less of stronger ones like sage and oregano. The dish comes out great warm when the pasta is just done, but it is also really nice at room temperature, say, at a picnic or on the beach.

Substitute fresh mozzarella for the ricotta to make a wonderful “pasta caprese”.

Pasta with Tomatoes, Ricotta and Fresh Herbs

1 pound pasta shapes (like orecchette or rotelle)
1 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
2 cloves garlic (or to taste), crushed or minced)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
About 2 generous handfuls fresh basil or mixed fresh herbs (like basil, parsley, thyme, sage, chives, and/or oregano), chopped

1. Boil a pot of water, add salt, and cook the pasta until it is al dente.

2. Meanwhile, add the ricotta and garlic to a bowl large enough to hold all the pasta. Add the olive oil with some salt and pepper and mix with a fork or whisk, breaking up and softening the ricotta. Add the tomatoes and herbs and mix to combine, reserving some herbs for garnish.

3. When the pasta is done, drain it and add it to the bowl with the other ingredients. Mix well and top with the remaining herbs. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Total time: 30 minutes
Makes 4 servings.

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