Simple shepherd's pasta with chive blossoms

Pasta tossed with Italian sausage and fresh ricotta cheese.

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    Pasta al Pastore is Calabrian shepherd’s-style pasta: simple, hearty, and good. A scattering of chive blossoms brings spring color to the plate.
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Pasta al pastore or shepherd’s pasta, is nothing more than crumbled hot or sweet Italian sausage (in this case a pound of loose homemade hot sausage meat – thanks Michael Ruhlman), a couple of ladles of pasta water and half a tub of fresh ricotta.

There’s nothing to it, but nor is there anything missing. It’s as totally unremarkable as it is exciting and delicious, and could be found just as easily on the menu of a white table cloth restaurant as our house on a Tuesday night.

That this is a Lidia Bastianich recipe also returns us to our origins as PBS fans fond of regional Italian cucina povera. Sure, we’ve betrayed our best intentions to go natural and rustic a little by gussying up the plating a little with chive flowers, but our excuse is that we have glut of them in our flower pots right now and using them up is as honest as it comes.

Pasta al Pastore – Calabrian Shepherd’s-style Pasta
Adapted not at all from Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy by Lidia Bastianich
Serves 4

4 hot (or sweet) Italian sausages, skins removed and crumbled
1 lb. package rigatoni or other tubular pasta
1/2 lb. fresh ricotta
Abundant salted water
2 tablespoons olive oil
Grated pecorino cheese (optional)

Boil well salted water in a large pot.

In a large skillet or saute pan, heat oil and crumble in sausage meat. Saute until cooked through.

Add pasta to water and cook for around 7 minutes until under done by about two minutes – i.e. in cross-section pasta is uncooked in the middle.

Reserving 2-3 ladles of pasta water, remove pasta from water and add to sausage in saute pan.

Ladle in 2 ladles of pasta water and stir together.

When pasta is cooked through, kill the heat and stir in ricotta.

Sprinkle with grated pecorino.

Jonny & Amy Seponara-Sills blog at We Are Never Full.

Related post: Ravioli with Walnut Cream Truffle Sauce

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