Summertime Suppers: Tomato-Zucchini Pasta with Ricotta and Herbs

9 Jul

pasta 1

Summertime pasta? Yes, please!

In the summer months, I’m always looking for easy, fresh recipes that don’t require any of the following:

  1. Lots of sweat, blood & tears in the kitchen
  2. Lots of hard-to-find ingredients
  3. Lots of clean-up.

[Come to think of it I’m looking for recipes like that all the time.]

Which is why this recipe for Tomato-Zucchini Pasta with Ricotta and Herbs hits the spot on so many levels. It’s fast — you’re talking a maximum time commitment of 30 minutes, including water boiling time — simple and freshly flavored. My two garden favorites, tomatoes and zucchini, are the stars of this dish, and the creamy ricotta adds protein and heft with just a hint of richness.

What’s not to love?

pasta 2

So the next time you’re scrambling through your pantry for an easy meal, try this dish. It serves 4 comfortably, but could easily be halved or doubled. (Or even cut down for one!) For more fun modifications, try replacing the zucchini with eggplant or summer squash; the ricotta with ricotta salata, thick shavings of romano, or chunks of mozzarella; or the cherry tomatoes with heirloom, Roma, or other types of tomatoes that you enjoy. Happy eating!

Tomato-Zucchini Pasta with Ricotta and Herbs

Adapted from a recipe in Real Simple

Serves 4; easily doubled or halved.

You’ll need:

  • 1 lb wheat rigatoni, ziti, or other cuts of pasta that you like
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 of a white onion, diced
  • 2 zucchini, diced
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
  • 1 16-oz container of part-skim or nonfat ricotta cheese
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • A handful of fresh mint, roughly torn
  • 1 tsp lemon juice (optional)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Here’s what you do:

  • Heat a pot of salted water to boil; cook pasta according to package directions. Drain when finished cooking.
  • While the water is boiling and pasta is cooking, heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add zucchini and onion; saute, stirring regularly, for about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add tomatoes and garlic, cooking for 3-4 minutes more, or until tomatoes begin to soften. Lower heat to low and cover to keep warm.
  • Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup pasta water. Add pasta to sauce mixture, raising heat to medium-low and stirring to warm everything through. Add herbs, pasta water, and lemon juice, if desired.
  • Transfer pasta and sauce to serving bowl. Add large scoops of ricotta and a sprinkling of Parmesan, if desired.
  • Serve with an herbed focaccia, a mixed veggie salad, and a bottle of your favorite wine. With this meal, I’d recommend a Chardonnay, a Pinot Grigio, or even a Pinot Noir if you’re feeling rebellious.

What are your go-to summertime meals? What are some of your favorite easy, fresh-tasting recipes that use summer produce like zucchini, tomatoes, and eggplant? Share away!

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