Summer Pasta with Zucchini, Ricotta and Basil
Such an easy, flavorful way to use a garden of summer squash.
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion finely diced
- 2 lbs. zucchini sliced into 1/4-inch-thick pieces (for larger zucchini, cut in half lengthwise before slicing)
- Salt and pepper
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 oz. basil about 2 cups loose leaves
- 1 pound tubetti ziti, rigatoni or other small dry pasta
- 8 ozs. ricotta about 1 cup
- Pinch of crushed red pepper
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 2 ozs. grated Parmesan pecorino or a mixture, about 1 cup, plus more for serving
- Put a pot of water on to boil. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the onions in 3 tablespoons olive oil until soft, 5 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to keep onions from browning.
- Add zucchini, season generously with salt and pepper, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until rather soft, about 10 minutes. Turn off heat.
- Meanwhile, use a mortar and pestle to pound garlic, basil and a little salt into a rough paste (or use a mini food processor). Stir in 3 tablespoons olive oil.
- Salt the pasta water and put in the pasta, stirring. Boil per package instructions but make sure to keep pasta quite al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of cooking water.
- Add cooked pasta to zucchini in skillet and turn heat to medium-high. Add 1/2 cup cooking water, then the ricotta, crushed red pepper and lemon zest, stirring to combine. Check seasoning and adjust.
- Cook for 1 minute more. Mixture should look creamy. Add a little more pasta water if necessary. Add the basil paste and half the grated cheese and quickly stir. Spoon pasta into warm soup plates and sprinkle with additional cheese. Serve immediately.
- Kitchen Notes: Don't ignore the lemon zest and red pepper flakes, that give the needed kick. Stick with the amount of zucchini called for in recipe. Because of its high moisture content, too much squash can make the dish overly wet. If using larger zucchini, cut in half lengthwise before slicing.