Penne Rigate w/Zucchini, Ricotta and Basil

Feature photo by cookbookman17 via

A favourite recipe brought to you from our head chef, Rebeka, in the Hollyhock kitchen.

“We have a similar recipe in our recent Garden to Table cookbook, and this is the current summer garden bounty dish we are making in the Hollyhock Kitchen.   This one borrows from David Tanis and the NYT newspaper food section which I adore, a great resource. Wonderful for lunch or supper, make extra to bring to work for your lunch box.  The pasta water trick is a super good one to have up your sleeve for all pasta dishes to create a great sauce and help the sauce stick to the pasta.  Who knew making cheese could be so easy.  And you gotta love the basil…delicious! All you need to round out this lovely meal is some crusty bread to soak up the sauce and a big salad you just picked from your garden and crisped up in your fridge. Bon Appetite’  One could add a dessert, too, something easy like store –bought ice cream so you have more time to enjoy summer’s beauty and be outdoors. “

pasta with zucchini, ricota and basil
Photo courtesy of Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Penne Rigate w/Zucchini, Ricotta and Fresh Basil

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 – 6 people


  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 pounds zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick pieces (for larger zucchini, cut in half lengthwise before slicing)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced, or 2 tablespoons chopped green garlic
  • 1 ounce basil, about 2 cups loose leaves
  • 1 pound penne rigate or other dry pasta
  • 8 ounces ricotta, about 1 cup (see below)
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 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 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
Photo courtesy of Karsten Moran for The New York Times
Photo courtesy of Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Fresh Ricotta

Prep Time: About 30 minutes
Servings: About 1 1/2 cups


  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup plain whole yogurt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Line a colander with a quadruple layer of cheesecloth and set it over a bowl.
  2. In a large pot over medium-high heat, whisk together all ingredients until smooth. Bring to a simmer and heat until the mixture just begins to curdle. Pour mixture into colander. (For a drier ricotta with bigger curds, continue to simmer 1 to 2 minutes longer until mixture completely separates.)
  3. Stop draining when mixture begins to look like ricotta, 5 to 15 minutes, depending on how dry you like it. Transfer to an airtight container and store for up to two weeks.

2 thoughts on “Penne Rigate w/Zucchini, Ricotta and Basil”

  1. I’ll right away grasp your rss feed as I can not find your email subscription link or newsletter service.
    Do you have any? Please allow me recognise
    so that I may subscribe. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *