When my family and I moved to the United States, one of the first non-Indian dishes I ever experienced was my Aunt Bimi’s (or I call her Bimi Aunty) pasta.
Back in the day she typically made with this dish with ziti, pasta sauce, and full-fat ricotta cheese. It was absolutely amazing and easily one my most favorite childhood dishes.
Today I decided to make Bimi Aunty’s pasta dish, but slightly healthier, so I added bell peppers, whole grain pasta, and also used part-skim ricotta cheese. It certainly brought back those childhood memories sitting in her kitchen across from my cousin, Ajay, who was probably making some stupid joke while I enjoyed a bowl of Ricotta Cheese Pasta.
Quite recently I made this delicious pasta dish for my husband and my friend, Marian. They both agreed it tasted amazing. My husband asked me to make this dish a week later, and so I did this weekend.
Of course, I owe a special thanks to Bimi Aunty for introducing me to Italian food and for some lovely childhood memories which sometimes have to do with great food. Enjoy!
NUTRITION: Whole Grain pasta is a great source of Protein and Fiber. Although high in fat, part-skim ricotta cheese is a good source of Protein and Calcium. Bell Peppers are a great source of Vitamins A, B6, and C.
TIP: If fat is an issue, Bimi Aunty substitutes Cottage Cheese to replace the Ricotta Cheese, but this will most definitely alter the flavor. Instead I would recommend half ricotta and half cottage cheese as another option.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 2 tbsp
- Crushed Red Pepper – 1 tsp (1/2 tsp if you can’t handle heat)
- Garlic – 3 cloves (chopped)
- Onion – 1 medium (sliced)
- Red Pepper – 1 medium (sliced)
- Green Pepper – 1 medium (sliced)
- Classico Cabernet Marinara Sauce – 1 – 24 ounce bottle ( I also recommend Barilla Marinara )
- Italian Seasoning – 2 tsp (initially) + 1 tsp (later)
- Black Pepper – 1/2 to 1 tsp
- Barilla Whole Grain Penne – 1 pound box
- Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese – 1 cup
- Starchy Pasta Water – 1/4 cup
- salt to taste
3. On medium heat, heat a wok/pan, add extra virgin olive oil, once hot add the crushed red pepper and garlic.
4. After about 15 seconds, add the onion and bell peppers. Season with salt. Stir and allow the vegetables to saute for about 10 minutes.
5. Add the marinara sauce. Stir.
6. Add the salt, black pepper, and 2 tsp of Italian seasoning. Stir.
7. Cover and allow the sauce to simmer for 10 minutes on low-medium heat.
8. Check on the pasta water. Season well with salt and a touch of extra virgin olive oil. Stir.
9. Add the pasta and cook for about 7 or 8 minutes.
10. After the sauce is done cooking, add the ricotta cheese. Stir.
11. Add an additional 1 tsp of Italian seasoning. Check for salt and black pepper at this time.
12. Once the pasta is done cooking, reserve a little starchy pasta water and drain. Immediately add the pasta to the sauce. Stir.
13. Add about a 1/4 cup of starchy water. This will help the pasta absorb the sauce. Stir.
14. Turn off the stove. Done.
15. Garnish with red pepper flakes. Serve after 15 minutes with a glass of red – I like Pinot Noir and Cabernet.
TELL ME: What is your favorite childhood dish?