clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
a wooden spoon resting in a bowl of pasta with basil and tomatoes

Pasta with Ricotta Zucchini Sauce and Blistered Tomatoes

  • Author: Jenni
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Mains
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian


This Pasta with Ricotta Zucchini Sauce and Blistered Tomatoes is a wonderful meatless dinner dish that highlights late summer produce and can be made in an hour or less.

This pasta dish includes a creamy sauce made from tender zucchini and ricotta along with fresh basil, garlic, lemon, and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, which envelopes cavatappi pasta. Tomatoes are sauteed until they become soft and blister, releasing their juices for a lightly saucy and deliciously acidic burst of flavor.



For the pasta with ricotta zucchini sauce:

  • 16 oz cavatappi pasta (or your preferred pasta, gluten-free if needed)
  • 2 tbsp garlic-infused olive oil (may sub for 2 tbsp olive oil + 2 minced garlic cloves)
  • 16 oz (about 2 medium) zucchini, trimmed and sliced into half moons
  • 248 g (1 cup) whole milk ricotta
  • 1 oz (about 1 1/3 cup) fresh basil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp cracked black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 oz (1 cup) Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, finely grated

For the blistered tomatoes:

  • 1 tbsp garlic-infused olive oil (may sub for traditional olive oil)
  • 16 oz cherry tomatoes
  • Flaky sea salt, to taste
  • Fresh basil, to taste


For the pasta with ricotta zucchini sauce:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil over medium-high heat with a generous dash of salt. Cook pasta to al dente, according to package directions (generally about 8-10 minutes). Once the pasta is cooked, carefully reserve about 16 oz (2 cups) of the pasta water to the side
    • I like to use a large mug to scoop this out before draining the pasta, or you can add a large mug to the bottom of the colander in the sink and carefully drain water directly into the mug, then remove it before draining the remaining water from the pasta. If you'd like to be extra careful, you can also ladle the pasta water into a large mug or small prep bowl if you prefer. Reserve the drained pasta and the mug of pasta water to the side.
  2. Return the empty pot you just cooked the pasta to the stove over medium heat. Add 2 tbsp garlic-infused olive oil (or traditional olive oil + minced garlic) to the pan. Once the oil is hot and glistening, add the zucchini to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally until moderately tender, around 5-6 minutes.
  3. Add the ricotta, lemon juice and zest, basil, Kosher salt, cracked black pepper, red pepper flakes, and about 8 oz (1 cup) of the reserved pasta water. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until the basil is fully wilted and the zucchini is nicely tender; another 5-6 minutes.
  4. Remove pot from heat and using an immersion (stick) blender, blend the saucy zucchini mixture until smooth. You can also transfer the mixture to a high-powered blender and pulse until well-blended if you prefer; transfer the sauce back to the pot when done if using this method.
  5. Return the pot to the stove over medium heat and add half of the parmesan cheese. Taste for salt, pepper, and consistency. I often find that the sauce needs an additional 4-8 oz (1/2-1 cup) of pasta water to reach my preferred sauce consistency. The pasta water will reduce easily so don't panic if your sauce looks a little thin at first. The starchiness of the pasta water will help the sauce emulsify so don't skip it! Reduce heat to low to keep warm while you finish the blistered tomatoes (below).
  6. When ready to assemble the pasta, add the reserved pasta directly to the pot of warm sauce along with the other half of the reserved parmesan cheese. Gently toss with a wooden spoon until the pasta is fully coated in sauce and cheese, and fully warmed throughout.
  7. Serve the pasta with the blistered tomatoes on top. I like to finish with a few extra cracks of black pepper and a sprinkle of fresh basil.

For the blistered tomatoes:

  1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tbsp garlic-infused olive oil (or traditional olive oil). Once hot and glistening, add the tomatoes. Cook undisturbed for about 2 minutes, then gently shake the pan to rotate the tomatoes (you can use a wooden spoon for help if needed). Repeat shaking the pan to rotate the tomatoes every minute or so until the tomatoes have blistered and begun to release their juices slightly.
  2. Finish the tomatoes with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt, to taste.


Nutritional information on Whip & Wander is provided as a courtesy and is approximate only. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site.


  • Serving Size: 1/6th of the recipe
  • Calories: 462
  • Sugar: 9 g
  • Sodium: 383 mg
  • Fat: 16 g
  • Saturated Fat: 6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 62 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Protein: 17 g
  • Cholesterol: 30 mg

Keywords: pasta, zucchini, ricotta, tomatoes, basil