Orecchiette with Zucchini, Tomato, and Ricotta

July  8, 2014
5 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This fresh, summery pasta, typical of Puglia, is so quick, it's ready in the time it takes to boil the pasta. —Emiko

What You'll Need
  • 5 to 6 plum tomatoes such as Roma or San Marzano
  • 11 ounces (320 grams) orecchiette or strascinati pasta
  • 2 small zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped finely
  • 2 to 3 pinches salt
  • 7 ounces (200 grams) fresh ricotta
  • Handful of basil leaves, picked, rinsed, and patted dry
  1. Put a large pot of water to boil for the pasta and add a hefty pinch or two of salt. When the water begins to boil, score an 'x' on the bottom of the tomatoes with a sharp knife and blanch in the boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds. Keeping the water boiling, remove the tomatoes to a bowl of ice water and let cool.
  2. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for 8 to 10 minutes (or according to the recommended time on the packet of pasta). After about 3 minutes, add the zucchini rounds.
  3. In the meantime, when the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel off and discard the tomato skins, then chop the tomato flesh roughly. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and gently sauté the garlic for 1 minute. When fragrant, add the tomato and a ladle of pasta water and let simmer until the tomatoes melt down into a sauce, about 5 minutes. Add a pinch of salt (and when necessary, a bit more water to keep it “saucy”) and set aside.
  4. When the orecchiette are al dente and the zucchini tender, drain them together (reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water, if necessary) and add to the skillet of tomato sauce. Toss until coated, adding the reserved water to loosen if needed. Add the ricotta and fresh basil leaves, stir to distribute a little, and serve immediately.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Laura S
    Laura S
  • stevemr
  • Emiko
  • Fagiole

8 Reviews

Fagiole August 15, 2023
I agree this recipe is bland...who boils zucchini? Youre taking an already mundane vegetable and degrading it even furthur..this recipe would benefit by roasting all vegetables first...
Emiko August 17, 2023
As you prefer. I live in Italy and the vegetables I get at the market such as the zucchini we have here are at their peak, they're picked that day (you can tell as the flowers are still on them), far from mundane. I think it's probably a whole different thing (if you are lucky enough to grow your own, you understand the difference too!). This original recipe though comes from Puglia, which is known as Italy's vegetable patch and so this is the traditional way to make this regional dish. But absolutely if you're working with supermarket bland zucchini, roasting is a great idea to amp up the flavours of the vegetables.
Herrinan March 7, 2016
I made this dish for dinner tonight. It was extremely easy to make and I love the technique for peeling the tomatoes.

I found the dish to be a bit bland. I think the issue was that I made this in March, so of course the tomatoes aren't anywhere near their best. I might recommend making this with canned tomatoes in the winter, when they are not in peak season, and getting fresh farmers market tomatoes in the summer. I also love the idea of adding lemon zest to brighten it up a bit. I might also try using fresh mozerella instead of ricotta.
Laura S. July 10, 2015
I am looking forward to making this tonight! And am going to add some lemon zest for a finishing touch, which I am always obsessed with and try to put on everything all summer long!
stevemr August 4, 2014
While there is nothing "wrong" with this recipe, its a bit boring. Because of its description as a simple summer dish, perhaps that's the point. Its not really interesting enough to be a main course, but would probably work quite nicely as a side dish alongside a grilled meat.
Emiko August 4, 2014
Well thanks for your comment. I'm guessing you haven't tasted this or tried making it yet, as I'm sure you would appreciate it's simplicity and beauty more if you had. That is partly the "point" of this recipe, along with the fact that this recipe is part of my Regional Italian Food column where I share typical regional recipes -- you can find in the column section -- it's a traditional combination, rarely messed with except that it's normally served with buckwheat pasta (so perhaps you should really let the region of Puglia know you think this sounds boring!). In any case, pasta in its homeland is never served as a "main" or as a side (even worse!). It is served as a first course, perhaps with a little something before or after (or both, depending on the occasion). Personally, in the summer when I don't want to spend much time standing in front of the stove, just this on it's own is the perfect meal, as is.
stevemr August 4, 2014
Thanks, Emiko, for your comment. In fact we made this for dinner tonight, so my comment was based on having eaten it. I certainly appreciate its simplicity, but as even you suggest, its probably not meant to be the centerpiece of a meal. Of course, I wasn't eating this in Puglia. And the idea of buckwheat pasta DOES sound interesting. SInce there so many non-white pastas out there, perhaps you should have suggested that in the recipe.
Emiko August 4, 2014
I do suggest it, it's in the full blog post/article about this recipe in the Regional Italian Food column, here: