Recipe Time…Fresh Ricotta

The David Tanis “City Kitchen” column in the New York Times on Wednesday featured a recipe declaring that fresh ricotta …”Elevates the Simple to the Sublime” and it looked delicious, so we tried it.

IMG_5573 All true…this was sooooo good, and with summer coming on, you need to give it a try.  Quick, easy, simple and delicious.  Here it is, with a few illustrations…

Summer Pasta with Zucchini, Ricotta and Basil

serves 4-6 (I made a half recipe and it could easily have served four)

Extra-virgin olive oil

1 small onion,finely diced

2 pounds zucchini sliced into 1/4 inch rounds (or slice zucchini length-wise before slicing…I did)

salt and pepper

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 ounce basil, 2 cups loose leaves

NOTE: the recipe in the paper has you making your own pesto, but I like a brand of pesto made in Eugene (available at Lifesource for Salemites) and it worked wonderfully…

1 pound dry pasta, penne, ziti…I used gemelli…

8 ounces fresh ricotta, about 1 cup, pinch of crushed red pepper, zest of 1 lemon

NOTE:  not the hard usual grocery-store stuff…try to find fresh sheeps’ milk ricotta.  We learned last summer that ricotta is a by-product of the pecorino romano process and is just soft and unbelievably delicious (I used a brand called Bellwether Farms Sheep milk Basket Ricotta…also Lifesource, Salemites)


1. Put the pasta water on to boil and then saute the onions (and garlic) over medium high heat in 3 tblsp. olive oil (5 to 8 minutes).  Reduce heat as necessary to keep onions from browning and then add zucchini and plenty of salt and pepper…cook for about 10 minutes, turn off heat.


2.  If making your own pesto, do so now.

3.  Cook pasta al dente, drain and RESERVE 1 cup of the cooking water.

4.  Add cooked and drained pasta to the zucchini and return to medium high.  Add 1/2 cup pasta water, the ricotta, crushed red pepper and the lemon zest, stirring to distribute.  Adjust seasoning and cook 1 more minute.  Mixture should look creamy…add a little more pasta water if necessary…add pesto and some grated romano, stirring to incorporate…Spoon pasta into warm bowls and serve immediately…and YUM!



Last year about this time we visited a lovely small cheese factory in Italy where the sheep were milked twice daily to make the freshest pecorino romano and ricotta…we arrived at lunch time for the tour and the day’s work was done…all ready for the tourists in special outfits to take a look…



  1. Hi Bonnie, I thought your recipe was going to be for making your own fresh ricotta cheese! I tried my hand with some of our sheep’s milk this spring. Not as easy as it sounds 🙂 Your pasta looks delicious!

  2. After our trip to Italy last summer, I came home and jumped into ricotta-making…I found a recipe that is very easy and tastes very, very close to what we enjoyed there; while it is made with cow’s milk and not authentic post- cheese making process, it is 10x better than anything available on the market (though I haven’t used the variety you suggest above). If you are feeling adventurous: 1/2 gal whole milk (not ultra-pasteurized), 1/2 c heavy cream, 1 tsp salt. Slowly bring to a very light, rolling boil. Add 1/4 c fresh lemon juice and give it a stir. Immediately, turn off heat and let sit for 5 mins. Strain through cheesecloth and then allow the cheese to sit for about 1 hour at room temp over a colander to drain more, depending on the consistency you prefer. Makes about 2 cups. Voila. I love to eat with fresh fruit or jam.

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