~recipe updated, first published way back in 2005~
~more recently updated recipes~
So Full Disclosure. Way back in 2005, I hated this recipe. It just didn't work, the proportions were too far off. It called for a pound of pasta and a pound of zucchini and left it all swimming in oil. Not good. (And yeah, during A Veggie Venture's first year of experimentation, learning how to cook vegetables by cooking one in a new way every day, some of the recipes weren't up to my current standards. It's half surprising to me that so many did work really well even if others were complete duds.)
But that was then and this is now. I've completely turned the recipe upside down and oh man – oh man oh man oh man – it's so good!
I stuck with the premise, hot pasta and zucchini tossed with ricotta. But I changed the proportions completely. Now the recipe calls for just a half pound of pasta (don't worry, it remains very much a "pasta dish") and a full two pounds of zucchini. Better still? Zucchini noodles! :-)
And get this! While I didn't set out to create a Zucchini Mac 'n' Cheese, that's what this turns out to be except in a grown-up, sophisticated sort of way. For dinner one night this week, the guys at the table had it as a side dish with grilled sausages – that includes my 90-year old father who turns up his nose at "mushy" vegetables but has yet to realize those noodles he gobbles up once a week are actually not pasta but zucchini – me, I happily skipped the meat for a vegetarian supper.
"... delicious! Really easy to make with only few ingredients.." ~ Madli
PASTA with ZUCCHINI NOODLES, RICOTTA & BASIL PESTO
Time to table: 60 minutes
Makes 12 cups
8 ounces (225g) dried pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 Italian frying pepper, diced
1/4 cup diced sun-dried tomato
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 pounds zucchini, spiralized into half rings
Salt & pepper
1/2 cup hot pasta water (and more if needed)
Zest of a lemon
1 cup ricotta
1/4 cup basil pesto (such as Homemade Fresh Basil Pesto Without Cheese)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, optional for garnish
Fresh basil ribbons, optional for garnish
PASTA Bring salted water to a boil, add pasta and cook until done. Scoop out a cup of the hot pasta water and reserve, then drain the pasta.
ZUCCHINI While the pasta cooks, in a large skillet or Dutch oven (something large enough to hold the whole shebang), heat oil until it shimmers. Stir in onion, pepper and diced tomato, let cook until onion just begins to change color. Stir in garlic, cook for one minute. Stir in zucchini in two or three batches, stir to coat with fat; let cook, stirring often, until zucchini is fully cooked but still firm, not soft; taste and adjust salt and pepper every so often while the zucchini cooks, be generous with both.
COMBINE Stir hot pasta and 1/2 cup cooking water into zucchini. Stir in lemon zest and ricotta, stir gently until ricotta coats pasta and zucchini, adding more pasta water if needed to further thin the ricotta. Stir in pesto.
TO SERVE Transfer to a large platter. Sprinkle with Parmesan and fresh basil if using.
MAKE-AHEAD The only thing you can really make ahead here is to saute the onion, pepper and sun-dried tomato. Since the pasta needs to be hot to melt the ricotta and since the zucchini noodles are really best cooked at the last minute, they really can't be made ahead. Just know, it's best to make this and serve it right away!
LEFTOVERS rewarm beautifully in the microwave. It's even quite tempting cold, in a cold mac 'n' cheese sort of way.
VARIATIONS If I'd had toasted pine nuts, I'd have tossed a few over the top, pretty in appearance and offering nice texture contrast.
ALANNA'S TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
NO SPIRALIZER? No problem. Just cut the zucchini into thin half or quarter moons. I did find a "giant" zucchini quite hard to spiralize, the center was just so soft, this would be another reason to slice the zucchini instead of spiralize it.
SUN-DRIED TOMATOES I'm in love with $1.99 bags of moist, flavorful sun-dried tomatoes from Trader Joe's and find myself tossing them into one dish after another, just a few pieces for color and a touch of umami.
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MORE FAVORITE PASTA RECIPES~ Israeli Couscous Salad with Yellow Squash & Sun-Dried Tomatoes ~
~ Orzo with Spinach ~
~ Summer Orzo with Radicchio ~
~ more pasta recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ Leek Sauce for Pasta ~
~ Homemade Spaghetti Meat Sauce ~
~ Broccoli Rigatoni with Chickpeas & Lemon ~
~ more main dish pasta recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column
SEASONAL EATING: THIS SAME WEEK ACROSS THE YEARSPasta with Zucchini Noodles, Ricotta & Basil Pesto Grape Tomato Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette (< so many tomato recipes for August!) My Quick Panzanella Lentil Salad with Tomatoes, Dill & Basil Broccoli, Bacon & Raisin Salad with Cheddar Herbed Grape Tomatoes King Hill Farms Simple & Sublime Beets (< always, always, for the first roasted beet) Amaranth Greens More Matters: The New Fruits & Veggies Campaign Insalata Caprese Fresh Tomato Sauce Delicious Microwave Sweet Potato Tomato & Onion Salad Grilled Beets, Greens & Beans Stuffed Peppers Grilled Corn with Chipotle-Lime Browned Butter Stuffed Zucchini Boats (< this week's reader favorite!) Skillet Stewed Tomatoes & Okra Avocado Recipes – Alphabet of Vegetables
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.
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