Dad's fave crunchy n’ creamy pasta recipe


Another remnant of our 2010 trip to Sicily (along with this pesto and this dish), this creamy pasta recipe has a wonderful crunch to the tooth.

creamy pasta recipe

We first ate this pasta plate - known as 'penne alle mandorle' (penne with almonds) in Italian - at a cute little trattoria called Oesteria da Mariano in the wind-swept coastal town of Siracusa (below right).

I was very hungry indeed when I sat down and luckily this turned out to be one of those creamy pasta discoveries that you could quite easily munch the whole evening long... exactly what I needed and a dish I hope you’ll enjoy just as much. As the title above suggests, my Dad certainly did when we fed him this recently...

One quick tip: if you can find it at your local farmers market or Italian delicatessen, try to buy fresh ricotta cheese, as taste-wise it makes this dish even more scrummy.

Serves 4

pasta recipe book pasta cookbookIngredients:

- 100g/3.5oz crushed almonds

- 5dl/17 fl oz half-fat cream

- 50g/1.75oz breadcrumbs (from tub)

- 500g/17.5oz penne pasta

- 1 medium white onion

- 20 fresh basil leaves

- 250g/9oz ricotta cheese

- Extra virgin olive oil

STEP 1 - First, just a few minutes of quick preparation:

- Peel and chop onion as finely as possible.

- Grate approx. 3 tablespoons of parmesan cheese.

- Rinse and tear the basil leaves.

- Use a pestle & mortar (or rolling pin and small plastic bag) to crush almonds into smaller pieces (not too much though, they shouldn’t be fine like flour but should retain some ‘crunch’!).

STEP 2 - Pop breadcrumbs and crushed almonds into two separate oven dishes or trays.

- Toast under a maximum heat grill for 10-15 mins, shaking regularly, until nicely browned.

Important! After the first few mins of grilling, don’t take your eye off them for a second, as they turn brown real quick!

STEP 3 - Coat a frying pan with a thin layer of oil, heat through on a medium hob, then drop in the onions and basil.

- Fry until onion softens (approx 10 mins).

easy pasta ricotta recipe

- With the onion softened, add the cream, 2 teaspoons of salt and 3 of grated parmesan.

- Heat through, stirring only occasionally, until cream becomes thicker and some of liquidity disappears (roughly 10-12 mins). Then take pan off heat.

easy pasta ricotta recipe

STEP 4 - Boil a large pan of well-salted water and when boiling add penne pasta.

- Cook as per packet’s recommended timings.

- Just quickly, while the pasta cooks, take a large mixing bowl and stir together the almonds, ricotta and half the toasted breadcrumbs (keep remaining crumbs in a small bowl for serving at the table).

- When ready drain pasta.

Speed tip: Once you’re confident multitasking, next time you can speed things up by setting the pasta cooking and mixing the ricotta mixture while you cream sauce is bubbling away.

STEP 5 - With pasta drained, pop cream sauce back on a medium heat hob and mix in both the ricotta mixture and drained pasta.


To serve: pop in pasta bowls and let your eaters sprinkle the remaining toasted breadcrumbs over their own servings for a crunchy brown top layer. Buono!

Enjoyed this creamy pasta recipe? Then why not try...

• Tomato-licious and equally creamy pasta with ricotta

• This full selection of cream sauce pasta recipes

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