Unstuffed Spicy Tomato Basil Shells with Whipped Ricotta
Unstuffed Spicy Tomato Basil Shells with Whipped Ricotta…not your average stuffed pasta shell recipe.
- 1 pound jumbo pasta shells
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ pound ground spicy Italian chicken sausage
- 3 shallots, thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano (or 1 tbs fresh oregano)
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves (or 1 tbs fresh thyme)
- 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
- 1 (14 ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes crushed
- kosher salt and black pepper
- 2 cups chopped greens, such as kale, spinach, or chard
- 1 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
- zest and juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons juice)
- 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese, whipped in the food processor, if desired
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente. Just before draining, remove 1½ cups of the pasta cooking water. Drain.
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the chicken sausage and brown all over, about 5 to 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the shallots, garlic, oregano, thyme and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook until the shallots begin to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, cook 2 minutes. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, 1 cup pasta cooking water, and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly. Add the greens, stirring until wilted. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
- Add the pasta shells and ½ cup basil, tossing to combine. If needed, thin the sauce with additional pasta cooking water.
- In a small bowl, mix the remaining ¼ cup olive oil with the remaining ½ cup basil, lemon zest, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt.
- Spread the ricotta cheese into the bottom of each pasta bowl. Spoon the shells and sauce over the ricotta. Drizzle the basil lemon sauce overtop. Serve and enjoy!