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A black plate with creamy pesto pasta with zucchini and a basil garnish.
5 from 1 vote

Pesto Pasta with Zucchini & Ricotta

This Summer Pesto Pasta with Zucchini and Ricotta is refreshing, flavorful, and easy to make. The red pepper flakes add a hint of heat with the lemon zest bringing in a balanced freshness to the dish. It's the perfect dinner. 
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
Servings: 8 servings


  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion - diced (about 1 3/4-2 cups)
  • 2 lbs zucchini - sliced into 1/4" inch thick coins
  • 3 garlic cloves - minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/3 cup basil pesto
  • 1 1/3 cup Ricotta
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 1 lb penne pasta


  • In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onions to the butter and cook until softened, about 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and zucchini. Season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking until the zucchini is somewhat soft (but not too soft!), about 8 minutes. Turn off the heat. 
  • While the zucchini is cooking, bring a large pot of water to boil, once boiling add about 1 tablespoon of salt to the water. Cook the pasta until a tad under al dente. Drain the pasta, but reserve 1 1/2 cups of the pasta water. 
  • Add the pasta to the zucchini mixture. Stir to combine. 
  • Add ¾ cups of the reserved pasta water, ricotta, red pepper flakes, parmesan, pesto, and lemon. Turn heat to low and cook and stir until the pasta turns creamy, about 1-2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. If you need to add more pasta water to the dish, do so. Serve immediately.


Recipe Source: Adapted from NY Times Cooking


Calories: 447kcal (22%), Carbohydrates: 50g (17%), Protein: 18g (36%), Fat: 19g (29%), Saturated Fat: 9g (45%), Cholesterol: 45mg (15%), Sodium: 685mg (29%), Potassium: 501mg (14%), Fiber: 3g (12%), Sugar: 5g (6%), Vitamin A: 890IU (18%), Vitamin C: 21.7mg (26%), Calcium: 286mg (29%), Iron: 1.5mg (8%)