Penne Rigate with Zucchini Cream

(can't you feel the SPRING?)

Nothing says spring like zucchini and little cherry tomatoes, but since in this country (Sweden) “seasonal“ doesn’t really mean much (unless you want to eat potatoes and cabbage all winter), we’re making this pasta dish in autumn, or whenever you happen to read this recipe.
This is definitively the pasta dish that most people have asked me to cook, over and over again, or asked for the recipe, or talked about, and the reason is simple: it’s really good, and fresh, and light.
It’s done with ricotta, one of those ingredients that people really should use more and for a number of reasons, at least three; 1) it’s light and fresh (technically it’s not even a cheese, as it is in fact a by-product of the cheesemaking process: it’s made from whey, which is what’s left of the milk once the fat has coagulated into cheese); 2) it doesn’t have a strong taste, so it doesn’t cover the other ingredients; 3) therefore it is perfect to make creamy sauces that don’t end up being heavy and greasy (this would happen if you use cream or butter or a creamy cheese instead). Extra points: it’s beautiful to look at, once you arrange it nicely on the plate.

Special Equipment

  • immersion blender
Created with Sketch. 30 min Created with Sketch. 2 servings


  • 1 zucchini (about 400 gr)
  • 100 gricotta
  • 30 gparmigiano in flakes
  • 8 cherry tomatoes
  • 4 tbspolive oil
  • 1 clovegarlic
  • basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • for the pasta
  • 200 gpenne rigate (any other similar furrowed pasta)
  • 2 ltwater
  • 15 gsalt


  1.  Start by placing the pot of water on the stove on high temperature, read carefully here how to cook pasta properly, or everything else will be worthless!
  2. You start like almost every italian pasta sauce, with a clove of garlic in olive oil on medium fire, for as long as it take for the garlic to become gold/brown (but don’t make it burn!).
  3. Add the zucchini, in slices or cubes, add salt and pepper to taste and let it cook for about 10/15 minutes, stirring every now and again: you want the zucchini to become soft from cooking, this will “wake up” their sweet taste.
  4. At this point the water should be boiling, so you can throw in the salt and the pasta.
  5. Take the zucchini out of the frying pan (leave the garlic and most of the olive oil) and throw them in a tall container together with the ricotta, parmigiano, one spoon of olive oil, one spoon of the pasta cooking water, 3/4 leaves of basil. Mix everything together with an immersion blender: the sauce mustn’t be too thick, add a bit more water if necessary (but not too liquid either!).
  6. Put the frying pan on the stove again at medium/high with the garlic and olive oil (add some if it looks too little), and stir-fry the cherry tomato halves adding salt and pepper: you don’t want the tomatoes to loose their nice shape or to cook too much and become too soft, so 2/3 minutes should be enough.
  7. Drain the pasta in the colander, put it back in the pot and quick as a bolt of lightening throw in the ricotta/zucchini cream, stirring it all together so the pasta is well covered in the creamy sauce. Divide it on two plates and garnish them with the tomato halves, parmigiano flakes, and a couple of basil leaves.
    And buon appetito!

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