We’re back to writing about zucchini blossoms. They are just so pretty, fragrant and delicious that we couldn’t stop with just one summer dish, especially when we ran across this recipe for Pappardelle with Ricotta, Zucchini Blossoms and Basil Oil in the New York Times recently.
Usually we write about our own recipes, or those that come from our family and friends in Italy. Every once in a while, though, a published recipe catches out attention, and we decide to try it. The ingredient list of this recipe captivated us. Fresh ricotta, zucchini blossoms and basil oil – what an ingenious combination! And there isn’t a more delightful pasta to host it than loopy, ribbon-like pappardelle.
Our intuition was correct. The pasta turned out wonderful – delicate and balanced, perfect for a late-summer dinner. We made a few changes to the recipe, adding additional zucchini flowers and ricotta, and sautéing the zucchini for longer than called for in the original recipe, as we prefer them more tender. We chose the sweeter and milder flavor of cow’s milk ricotta over ricotta made from sheep’s milk. Go out of your way to find high quality fresh ricotta.
The timing of this recipe was perfect, as we have submitted it to this week’s Presto Pasta Nights, a weekly roundup of pasta dishes prepared by food bloggers around the world. Presto Pasta Nights was created by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast, and this edition, the 226th, is hosted by Simona of Briciole, whose homemade ricotta and pasta recipes we will attempt the next time we make Pappardelle con ricotta e fiori di zucca.
For the basil oil
1 bunch of basil
1 clove garlic
Zest of a quarter lemon
1/2 C olive oil
Salt and Pepper
For the pasta
1 lb pappardelle
2 small zucchinis
1 cup fresh cow’s milk ricotta
12-18 zucchini blossoms
Salt and Pepper
Prepare the basil oil by chopping the basil and mincing the garlic finely, and adding it to the olive oil. Grate the lemon zest and add it to the oil. Salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.
Place a large pot of water on high heat, and while waiting for the water to boil, prepare the zucchini and blossoms. Slice the zucchini thinly and set aside. Remove the stems and stamen or pistils (read here for more about zucchini flower gender) and rinse the flowers carefully under water. Pat dry, and then cut lengthwise into strips.
When the water boils, throw a handful of coarse salt into the pot, and add the pappardelle. Cook until al dente according to the time specified on the package. While the pasta cooks, sauté the zucchini slices in a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan, salting and peppering the zucchini to taste.
Drain the pasta when cooked, retaining 1-2 cups of the cooking water. Return the pappardelle to the pan with the zucchini slices. Add the zucchini flowers and the ricotta, and stir over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, adding the pasta’s cooking water as needed to render the ricotta creamy and the zucchini flowers soft.
Serve immediately with a a drizzle of basil oil and a dusting of pecorino cheese on top.