Conant, a longtime star of the Manhattan Italian cuisine scene who launched Scarpetta and other successful eateries, is also a master of creating killer pasta dishes. So it only makes sense that Maxim would ask him to whip up the ultimate date night pasta. And boy did he deliver.
"Maccheroni with Baby Tomato Ragu and Ricotta Salata" might sound like a mouthful, but trust us: even lowly amateur cooks can prepare it with ease during a romantic night of staying in.
“It’s the perfect dish because of the surprising deep pop of flavor and the ease of the preparation, and it’s totally impressive to your date," Conant says of his mouthwatering creation.
"It really provides amazing return on the work involved.”
Maccheroni with Baby Tomato Ragu and Ricotta Salata
- 4 ounces ricotta salata
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 quart cherry tomatoes, preferably a mix of yellow and red, cut in half lengthwise
- 2 cloves garlic, slice very thin
- [1/4] teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Kosher salt
- 1 each small shallot, sliced thin lengthwise
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
- 3 tablespoons tomato sauce
- 1[1/2] tablespoons basil chiffonade
- 1[1/2] tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 12 ounces fresh maccheroni pasta
1. Heat a convection oven to 350F or a conventional oven tp 375F.
2. Put the cheese in a small ovenproof pan and bake until well browned, 25 to 30 minutes.
3. In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, the red pepper, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt.
4. When the garlic begins to sizzle, add the shallot, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallot is tender, 3 to 4 minutes.
5. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the tomatoes, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes release their pectin and begin to look cooked, about 5 minutes.
6. Add the oregano and the tomato sauce, stir to combine, and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat.
1. Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil.
2. Cook the pasta until not quite al dente.
3. Meanwhile, reheat the sauce, adding [1/4] cup of the pasta cooking water.
4. Reserve some of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.
5. Take the sauce off the heat, add the pasta, and toss with the sauce.
6. Add the basil, Parmigiano-Reggiano, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and toss again, adding a little pasta cooking water if the sauce looks dry.
7. Divide the pasta among 3 large, shallow bowls and grate the baked ricotta salata over the pasta.
8. Pair with a bottle (or two) from the Josh Cellars Reserve Collection. We suggest their rich and flavorful Cabernet Sauvignon.
Check out Fusco in Manhattan—Conant's first solo restaurant in nearly a decade—for his latest ingenious take on elevated Italian fare.