We All Scream for Zucchini (Pasta)

This Summer Pasta with Zucchini, Ricotta and Basil from the New York Times food section was labor intensive, but really quite delicious. And no need to turn on the oven! I made a few changes (chicken and walnuts) and I don’t want to forget how I did it. The recipe says 4-6 servings but it makes a huge quantity. Luckily, the leftovers are really good, especially if you top with more parmesan. Maybe try it with half or 3/4 of the pasta called for in the recipe.

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 or 2 chicken breasts poached with a few smashed garlic cloves and salt, then shredded
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 pounds zucchini, halved, cored and sliced into 1/4-inch-thick pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced, or 2 tablespoons chopped green garlic
  • 1 ounce basil, about 2 cups loose leaves
  • handful of walnuts, 1/4-1/2 cup
  • 1 pound ziti or other dry pasta
  • 8 ounces ricotta, about 1 cup (see recipe)
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper (I omitted)
  • Zest of 1 lemon (I omitted)
  • 2 ounces grated Parmesan, pecorino or a mixture, about 1 cup, plus more for serving
  1. 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.
  2. Meanwhile, use a mini food processor to grind garlic, basil, walnuts and a little Kosher salt into a rough paste. Stir in 3 tablespoons olive oil.
  3. Salt the pasta water well (2T) 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.
  4. Add cooked pasta and chicken to zucchini in skillet and turn heat to medium-high. Add 1/2 cup cooking water (I used the whole cup), 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.



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