This dried-pasta dish is super easy to make. It’s called “al brucio” because of the spicy flavor. It originally did not include ricotta, but that helps balance the spiciness of the sauce. You can also top it with a spoon of burrata at the very end, or even a slice of buffalo mozzarella. At Felidia, we make it with candele pasta, an extra-long, smooth pasta that is tubular, hollow, and wide, like a rigatoni, and looks like a long candle (which is also called a candele in Italian). Chef Nicotra’s mother used to make this pasta for him when he was young, and she still does when he goes home to Sicily.
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 cups cherry tomatoes
Pinch of sugar
1/4 teaspoon peperoncino flakes, or to taste
1 pound dried penne rigate
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, shredded
1/2 cup freshly grated Grana Padano, plus more for serving
1/2 cup fresh ricotta
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Heat 4 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and rosemary, and cook until the garlic just begins to turn golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and sugar, and cook, tossing occasionally, until the tomatoes break down, 7 to 8 minutes, adding the peperoncino once the tomatoes give up their juice.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta until just al dente, remove it with a spider, and add to the tomatoes in the skillet along with about 1/2 cup pasta water. Toss to coat the pasta in the sauce; then simmer until the sauce comes together, about 2 to 3 minutes, adding a little more pasta water if it seems dry. Remove the skillet from the heat, drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and sprinkle with the basil and grated Grana Padano. Season with salt, and toss well. Remove the rosemary sprigs and garlic, and discard. Spoon the pasta into individual shallow bowls, and spoon a fresh dollop of ricotta on top of each one.