Recipes are best when they utilize the freshest ingredients of the season, and summertime is the humble zucchini's time to shine. While I usually prepare the summer squash as a side dish for salmon or tilapia, an overzealous trip to the grocery store left me with too much zucchini and too few zucchini-centric recipes.
True to form, I turned to Pinterest, which led me to David Tanis's summer pasta with zucchini recipe as featured on The New York Times Cooking. "A summer pasta should be simple and fresh, ideally made with vegetables straight from the garden or market," reads the recipe description. "Look for the best artisanal ricotta; top-quality ingredients make all the difference here."
Having decided that I wanted something a bit more filling for dinner, the cheesy yet vegetable-rich dish seemed to fit the bill. Aside from the fact that it called for just six ingredients and 30 minutes to make, the recipe had accumulated a casual 2896 five-star reviews on Pinterest—which, in my experience, means that it's seriously delicious and well worth your time.
After one bite of this fresh and satisfying pasta dish this past July, I was hooked; I've made it two more times since. Though I've subbed out the rigatoni for chickpea pasta on a few occasions to ease the bloating that can come from carb-heavy meals, it has continued to satiate my summer comfort food cravings. Find The New York Times Cooking recipe below.
Extra-virgin olive oil
Small onion, finely diced
Zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick pieces (for larger zucchini, cut in half lengthwise before slicing)
Salt and pepper
Garlic cloves, minced
Basil, about 2 cups loose leaves
Ziti or other dry pasta
Ricotta, about 1 cup (see recipe)
Pinch of crushed red pepper
Grated Parmesan, pecorino or a mixture, 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 softened, 5 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat as necessary 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 well 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 distribute. 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 to incorporate. Spoon pasta into warm soup plates and sprinkle with additional cheese. Serve immediately.
Head over to the The New York Times Cooking for more recipes.
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