Summer Pasta With Zucchini, Ricotta and Basil

Serves 4 to 6.

Note: From David Tanis.

• 1 small onion, finely diced

• Extra-virgin olive oil

• 2 lb. zucchini, sliced into 1/4-in. thick pieces (for larger zucchini, cut in half lengthwise before slicing)

• Salt and pepper

• 2 garlic cloves, minced

• 1 oz. fresh basil (about 2 c.) loose leaves

• 1 lb. ziti (thin tubes) or other dry pasta

• 8 oz. ricotta, about 1 c.

• Pinch of crushed red pepper

• Zest of 1 lemon

• 2 oz. grated Parmesan, pecorino or a mixture, about 1 c., plus more for serving

Directions

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 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 ½ 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.

Nutrition information per serving (using homemade ricotta):

Calories 625 Fat 27 g Sodium 666 mg

Carbohydrates 76 g Saturated fat 12 g Calcium 284 mg

Protein 21 g Cholesterol 59 mg Dietary fiber 6 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 5 bread/starch, 1 high-fat meat, 4 fat.

 

Homemade Ricotta

Makes about 2 cups.

Note: From “How Easy Is That?” by Ina Garten.

• 4 c. whole milk

• 2 c. heavy cream

• 1 tsp. kosher salt

• 3 tbsp. good white wine vinegar

Directions

Set a large sieve over a deep bowl. Dampen 2 layers of cheesecloth with water and line the sieve with the cheesecloth.

Pour the milk and cream into a stainless-steel or enameled pot. Stir in the salt. Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar. Allow the mixture to stand for 1 minute until it curdles. It will separate into thick parts (the curds) and milky parts (the whey).

Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth-lined sieve and allow it to drain into the bowl at room temperature for 20 to 25 minutes, occasionally discarding the liquid that collects in the bowl. The longer you let it drain, the thicker the ricotta.

Transfer the ricotta to a bowl, discarding the cheesecloth and any remaining whey. Use immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The ricotta will keep refrigerated for 4 to 5 days.

Nutrition information per serving of ¼ cup:

Calories 250 Fat 22 g Sodium 310 mg

Carbohydrates 8 g Saturated fat 14 g Calcium 180 mg

Protein 5 g Cholesterol 79 mg Dietary fiber 0 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: ½ milk, 4½ fat.