Sauteed zucchini draining on paper towels

Sauteed zucchini draining on paper towels

Out of the many recipes of pasta with ricotta, this is in my opinion the best one.  I modified slightly from a book called Pasta Fresca, written in 1988 by Viana Kleiman. Of note, I could not make this recipe for 20 or so years because there was no good ricotta in the USA.  Fortunately this has changed, and now Bellwether Farms in California makes a ricotta as good as the one I eat in my house in Calabria.  Whole Foods and other specialty markets carry Bellwether’s ricotta, or you can order it directly from them.

Ingredients for 4-6 people

  • 1 box spaghetti (450g)
  • ½ cup virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove or garlic
  • 1 medium size zucchini for each person, cut in ½ cm round coins
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 1 box of Bellwether Farms Whole Cow’s Milk ricotta (340g)
  • 1 clove of garlic, smashed
  • 1 bunch of basil, chopped
  • 1/3 cup of the boiling water in which you cooked the pasta

How to make this recipe

  1. Boil water in a large pot and add spaghetti.
  2. While the water is coming to a boil, combine the olive oil, smashed garlic cloves, and rosemary in a large skillet. Bring the heat to medium to medium-high.
  3.  Note that the heat is somewhat dependent on your stove: for example, on a gas stove, you might use “medium high” and on an electric stove, you might use “high” heat. The heat needs to be intense enough to brown the zucchini.
  1. When oil is hot—hot, but NOT smoking, do not let it smoke, it means the heat is too high—add the zucchini and cook until golden brown on each side (remember to turn them!). Also, when the garlic is golden, remove it from the skillet and throw it away.
  2. Remove the sautéed zucchini from the skillet and place on absorbent paper towel to drain the oil. Keep the skillet ready with the olive oil and  rosemary sprig.
  3. By now the pasta should be almost ready. Taste it to be sure it is a little bit hard “al dente.” Scoop out 1 cup of the boiling pasta water and reserve.
  4. Quickly drain the pasta and transfer it in the large skillet —fire off—which contains the remaining olive oil and rosemary. Now you must move very fast:  mix well, add the ricotta and a little bit of water to make the ricotta smooth, but not liquid –you can always add more water but you cannot take it out, so add a little bit at the time; you will need about 1/3 of a cup.
  5. Add the basil and zucchini to the skillet and mix it well.
  1. Buon appetito!

Suggested Wine Pairing

A cold Arneis or Vermentino from Sardinia, or, ideally, if you can find it, a sparkling white from Librandi called “Labella.”

Italian Version of Pasta e ricotta per 4-6 persone

Ingredienti:

  • 1 pacco di spaghetti e 350 g di ricotta fresca di ottima qualità (preferisco per questa ricetta la ricotta integrale di latte di vacca, ma si puo usare pure ricotta di pecora).
  • 1 zucchina media a persona tagliata a rondelle di mezzo cm
  • 1 tazzina di caffè olio d’oliva
  • 1 spicchio d’aglio schiacciato e un rametto di rosmarino
  • Un mazzo di basilico spezzettato con le mani.

Procedimento:

  1. Mettere acqua a bollire, aggiungere sale e pasta.
  2. Soffriggere le zucchine con aglio e rosmarino in olio di oliva in una padella grande, finchè dorate da entrambe le parti.  Spegnere il fuoco e mettere le zucchine su carta assorbente.
  3. Appena la pasta è al dente, prendere una tazza d’acqua, poi scolare la pasta e metterla nella padella con l’olio che è rimasto dalla frittura (fuoco spento). Rapidamente: mischiare bene, aggiungere la ricotta e un po’acqua della pasta, quel tanto che pasta a rendere la ricotta ‘vellutata, cremosa, ma NON liquida.
  4. Aggiungere basilico e zucchine e servire con up pó di pepe nero.
  5. Buon appetito!

Vino: Librandi Labella freddo (ideale), oppure se non lo trovate, un Arneis o un Vermentino un po frizzante ci stanno pure bene.