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.
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.
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.
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.
The Australian-Japanese cookbook author has lived in Florence (where a visit to a cheese farm once inspired her to start a food blog) for over 10 years with her Tuscan sommelier husband and two kids. Her third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, is out now.