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Zucchini and yellow squash are so abundant this time of year that it’s helpful to find a new way to eat them all up deliciously. Pasta can elevate squash into a main dish. The trick is how to incorporate the squash and pasta. Ricotta is the answer.
Years ago in a friend’s Maryland kitchen, I watched as she chopped eggplant, squash and peppers, and sauteed them. I thought we were headed into ratatouille territory, but then she dropped in several spoonsful of ricotta and some cooked pasta shells, seasoned it all up and we enjoyed a wonderful dinner with salad on the side.
Then recently my friend sauteed zucchini and garlic together in olive oil, added ricotta, and tossed it with spaghetti and parmesan. Yum.
Zucchini and summer squash are best harvested when hardly bigger than a banana, unless you want lots of it to make zucchini relish or to stuff and bake. Slice squash and cook al dente, like pasta, for good flavor and texture. You can use herbs such as parsley, dill, scallions and garlic, shredded basil, or even a dab of pesto. For a little spice, you could try sauteeing finely chopped jalapenos with the squash or a dash of hot red pepper flakes. What turns the cooked and seasoned vegetables into a pasta sauce is the ricotta, not too much, but enough to coat the pasta and vegetables.
If squash isn’t your thing, feel free to add ricotta to other fresh summer vegetables along with pasta for a quick main dish. If you prefer, consider using mascarpone instead of ricotta. It will create a creamier mix.
This dish takes no more than half an hour to whip together. Start the water for the pasta, slice up zucchini or squash, chop a little onion and garlic, and saute them. About the same time you add the pasta to the water, put the squash on to cook. Drain the cooked pasta, add in the vegetables and seasonings, then the ricotta and toss until all is covered with cheese. Add salt and pepper. Grate parmesan on top. That’s it.
Pasta with Zucchini and Ricotta
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium sized zucchini or summer squash, sliced about ¼ inch thick
Choice of seasonings: parsley, dill, basil, scallions, chives or red pepper flakes
½ cup of ricotta, or more if needed to get desired texture
Salt and pepper
1. Put enough salted water on to boil the pasta according to package directions.
2. Heat a little olive oil in a saute pan, and add the onions and garlic, and cook until just soft.
3. Add the sliced squash and saute until barely tender.
4. When the pasta is al dente, drain and add the vegetables with your choice of seasonings and ricotta, and toss all together, adding more ricotta if needed to coat the pasta and vegetables.
5. Add salt and pepper to taste and Parmesan cheese if desired. Serve.