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Ricotta cream adds a deliciously light summery twist to pasta

Last modified: 7/4/2012 12:00:00 AM
I've grown away from cream sauces that seem to drown vegetables and pasta rather than enhance them. Instead, I use ricotta cheese, which adds a lighter dairy element. Ricotta tends to be a little dry, so I mix in milk. After that, it's just a matter of flavoring the ricotta and combining it with well-cooked vegetables and pasta.

Here, the ricotta is treated to lemon and basil. Zucchini and onion are sauteed until tender, then everything is combined with corkscrew pasta. It's easy, delicious and summery.

Pasta and Zucchini With Lemon-Basil Ricotta Cream

salt

8 ounces dried corkscrew-shaped pasta, such as rotini or fusilli

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup finely chopped onion

1 pound zucchini, cut into «-inch cubes

1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

2 tablespoons low-fat milk

finely grated zest of 1 large lemon

⅓ cup coarsely chopped basil leaves

freshly ground black pepper

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large nonstick saute pan or skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and season with salt to taste; cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens. Add the zucchini and toss to combine.

Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat so the zucchini becomes tender but does not brown.

Combine the ricotta, milk, lemon zest and basil in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

When the pasta and vegetables are ready, add them to the bowl and toss to combine. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed.

Garnish with more lemon zest and the basil strips, if desired.

Makes 4 or 5 servings.


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