Zucchini, Lemon and Ricotta Pasta

This recipe has been adapted from one by David Tanis in the New York Times (and was a hit three weeks ago with Kate, Sarah and Jeff!).  It is better made with homemade ricotta (recipe to be posted next) but works fine as long as you buy a good quality supermarket or specialty store ricotta.  it makes four generous servings.


5 T. good olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

large handful of basil leaves (about 1 cup packed)

1/2 large yellow onion or 1 small onion, diced finely

2 medium zucchini (or more if they are small, try to avoid the ones the size of baseball bats because of their seeds)

1 pound of dried pasta such as penne, ziti or trofie

1 cup of ricotta cheese (or a little but more if, like Sarah, you like everything extra cheesy!)

pinch of red pepper flakes

1 lemon, zested (only zest is needed in this recipe)

1/2 to 3/4 cup of grated parmigian cheese

salt and pepper to taste


1.  Heat a large pot of water to a boil adding a good amount (1 -2 t.) of salt to the water.

2.  Meanwhile, wash and cut the zucchini across into thin (1/4″ or so) circular slices and set aside.

3.  In a small food processor or chopper, place the garlic, basil leaves and a large pinch of salt.  Process until a rough paste forms.  Add 3 T. of olive oil and continue processing until combined. Set aside.

3.  In a large fry pan, heat 2 T. of olive oil over medium heat and cook the onion until translucent.  Add the zucchini and salt and pepper to taste and cook until done to your liking (3 to 6 minutes, depending on its texture). Turn off the heat.

4.  Add the pasta to the cooking water and cook until just al dente (check package).  Before draining, remove 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.  Drain the pasta and add to the skillet with the onion and zucchini.  Toss to combine.

5. Add a little of the pasta water to moisten the mixture, then add the ricotta, red pepper, lemon zest.  Turn on the heat to medium again and toss to combine as it cooks just a bit more.  If the mixture isn’t creamy enough add more pasta cooking water until the consistency is just about right.  Turn off the heat.

6.  Add the basil paste and half the parmigian. Mix one last time and check for salt and pepper, adding more if needed.

7.  Serve, passing the remaining parmigiana for topping the dish.

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I am an enthusiastic home cook. I started a blog when my older daughter lived in Paris and had a tiny kitchen, few utensils and a stove with no temperature markings. The purpose was to help her (and eventually her sister) make many of the dishes they love and to learn how to make some new ones. They are now both terrific cooks, but all of us can use a new (or even an old beloved) recipe once in a while.

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