Pasta With Zucchini, Ricotta Cheese, & Basil Pesto

Our garden here in Michigan is flourishing this year, and the zucchini is just about ready to pick. Garden zucchini is one vegetable that you wait weeks for, but once they are ready, you have more than you can handle. When zucchini are in season, I am always on the lookout for new zucchini recipes.

This creamy summer pasta sauce can be prepared in the time that it takes to cook the pasta. It is a delicate, creamy sauce that the entire family will enjoy. Since this sauce is delicate, the chili flakes, lemon zest, and grated Pecorino cheese bring this sauce to life. For best results, use a good quality ricotta cheese and small, firm zucchini.

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele

Pasta With Zucchini, Ricotta Cheese, & Basil Pesto

Pasta With Zucchini, Ricotta Cheese, & Basil Pesto

Yield: Serves 4-6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

A creamy pasta dish made with fresh zucchini and creamy ricotta sauce.


  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Small Onion, Finely Chopped
  • 2 Pounds Small Zucchini, Sliced in 1/4-inch Pieces
  • Salt & Pepper To Taste
  • Pesto Sauce:
  • 2 Large Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 2 Cups Fresh Basil Leaves, Washed & Dried
  • 1/3 Cup Pecorino Romano Cheese
  • 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper To Taste

Other Ingredients:

  • 1 Pound Dried Pasta (Rigatoni or Penne)
  • 8 Ounces Full Flat Ricotta Cheese, About 1 Cup
  • Red Chili Flakes
  • Zest From 1 Lemon

To Serve:

  • Cracked Black Pepper
  • 1 Cup Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
  • 1/2 Cup Ricotta Cheese
  • 1/4 Cup Lightly Toasted Pine Nuts


    1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
    2. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes.
    3. Add the zucchini, season with salt and pepper, and continue to cook until the zucchini is tender, about 10 minutes.
    4. Place the garlic, basil, and Pecorino cheese in a food processor or blender and pulse until blended.
    5. Season with salt and pepper, then drizzle the olive oil in while pulsing.
    6. Scoop the basil pesto into a small bowl and setting aside a couple of teaspoons full.
    7. Cook the pasta according to package directions, then drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.
    8. Return the pasta to the pot with the zucchini and onion mixture and turn heat to medium.
    9. Add 1/2 cup cooking water, ricotta cheese, chili flakes, and lemon zest.
    10. Stir to coat the pasta, adding additional water as needed.
    11. Add the basil pesto, half the grated Pecorino cheese, and stir to mix.
    12. Serve in individual bowls topped with a sprinklng of pine nuts, a dollop of ricotta cheese and a drizzle of pesto over each bowl.
    13. Offer additional grated cheese, and black pepper at the table.

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