Summer Pasta With Zucchini, Ricotta and Basil

I was reading my daily email from the NYT food department and there it was. The perfect confluence – the junction of two rivers – Zucchini and Ricotta. We are starting summer off with what undoubtedly will be too many zucchini in the garden, which requires me to make every zucchini recipe I can get my hands on. And then there’s ricotta.

The recipe advertised a recipe for homemade ricotta. Irresistible. I have been wanting to make ricotta for months – just haven’t gotten to it and here was my chance. This recipe had my name all over it. I hunkered on down.

Summer Pasta With Zucchini, Ricotta and Basil (-NYT, David Tanis)

Fresh Homemade Ricotta (-NYT, Melissa Clark)


1 quart whole milk

½ cup heavy cream

¼ cup plain whole yogurt

1 ½ tsp lemon juice

½ tsp kosher salt


Line a strainer with four layers of cheesecloth and set over a bowl In a large pot over medium-high heat, whisk together all ingredients until smooth. Bring to a simmer and heat until the mixture just begins to curdle. Pour the mixture into the strainer. (For a drier ricotta with bigger curds, continue to simmer for 1 to 2 minutes longer until mixture completely separates). Stop draining the ricotta when the mixture begins to look like ricotta – about 5 to 15 minutes depending on how dry you like it. Transfer to an airtight container and store for up to two weeks or use right away in this recipe!!

Ingredients for Summer Pasta


Olive oil

1 small onion, finely diced

2 pounds zucchini sliced into ¼ inch thick pieces (maybe cut in half lengthwise before slicing)

salt and pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 ounce basil, about 2 cups loose leaves

1 pound penne or ziti or something else of that shape-ish

8 ounces ricotta, about 1 cup

pinch of crushed red pepper

zest of 1 lemon

2 ounces grated parmesan, pecorino or a mixture, about 1 cup


Boil water in a large pot. In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, cook the onions in 3 Tbsp olive oil until soft – about 5 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat as necessary to keep onions from browning. Add zucchini, season with salt and pepper and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until soft-ish. This should take about 10 minutes. Turn off the head. Using a small food processor (or mortar and pestle), combine garlic, basil and a little salt. Stir in 3 Tbsp olive oil. Salt the pasta water and put in the pasta, stirring. Boil per package instructions but make sure to keep the pasta al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of cooking water. Add cooked pasta to zucchini in skillet and turn to medium-high head. Add ½ cup cooking water, then the ricotta, crushed red pepper and lemon zest, stirring to distribute. Cook for a minute. Mixture should be creamy. Add a little more pasta water if necessary. Add the basil paste and half the grated cheese and stir to incorporate. Spoon pasta into warm soup plates and sprinkle with cheese.

Serve immediately.

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