The heart of Italy is the culinary destination for this scrumptious pasta dish topped with zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes, ricotta and pine nuts. Best part: Traditional Italian dinner in only 20 minutes! I have included the weight loss version down below as well.
My grandparents live on the Appennini mountains and their greatest passion is taking care of their huge vegetable garden. Therefore, it doesn’t matter what time of the year it is, whenever I pass by to say hello they always load me with a ton of delicious greens to cook and eat. Every time I go it is something different, but in this period, it is mostly baby zucchini as they are at their best. We have so many of them at the moment that I’m constantly inventing new ways to prepare them without getting bored!
Therefore, today I want to share with you one of my favorite recipes to prepare with this wonderful vegetable. This baby zucchini with pasta is extremely easy to make and super tasty, the perfect solution for a casual weeknight meal without any stress in the kitchen. Moreover, making the sauce takes just about the same time as boiling the pasta so you won’t have any downtime.
I’ve already cooked this recipe a few times in the last month, and it always turns out amazing! The sauce it’s quite delicate, but the strong and tangy kick given by the sun-dried tomatoes brings it to life. In fact, I love how beautifully it combines with the softness of the ricotta cheese and the subtle flavor of the zucchini. Finally, the crunchy pine nuts on top give the dish a wonderful contrasting texture. In my experience, this is usually a pasta dish that is loved by kids and adults alike.
Only have regular zucchini? No worries!
If you can’t find baby zucchini don’t worry, you can definitely use regular ones instead. The flavor it’s very similar and you will just have to cut them into smaller pieces to get the same result. Also, this recipe works best with short pasta varieties such as fusilli, farfalle or penne.
Pasta with Zucchini: Weight Loss Version
Can you eat pasta when you are trying to lose weight? ABSOLUTELY! I ate pasta every week when I lost 50 pounds and a recent study showed that people who ate pasta lost weight compared to those who ate other forms of grains (such as rice). Pasta has a lower glycemic index then many other grains so it is fine to have it on occasion when trying to lose weight. The key is to eat a small portion of pasta with lots of vegetables and, of course, extra virgin olive oil. I would eat this recipe as it is for weight loss, but if you want to cut back on calories a bit, you can use 2 ounces of pasta per serving (this recipes calls for 3 ounces per serving).
If you want to truly make this a low carb, low grain recipe you can use zucchini noodles instead of pasta.
The easiest way to make this pasta with zucchini recipe work for weight loss is to just portion out the final dish into 3 servings instead of 2. This way you will be getting all the same deliciousness, but at 446 calories. I love to serve this recipe with steamed or oven roasted broccoli or a side salad.
Just a side note about calories. Don’t count them! The best way to successful weight loss is changing your daily habits and having a slight hunger going throughout your day. People who don’t eat as much not only lose weight, but also decrease their risk of many major diseases.
Pasta with Zucchini, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Ricotta & Pine Nuts
- 6 oz dried Pasta (short varieties work best)
- 6 baby zucchini (you can substitute with 1 medium zucchini) (around 10 oz in total)
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- salt, to taste
- 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and cut into strips
- 1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese
- 2 tbsp roasted pine nuts
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add pasta and cook until al dente stirring occasionally.
- In the meantime, prepare zucchini. Wash them thoroughly, trim away the ends and cut them into thin slices.
- In a large pan, add olive oil and garlic. Toss for 60 seconds on medium heat until the garlic starts to release its aroma.
- Add zucchini to the pan and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes.
- When zucchini are almost done, add sun-dried tomatoes cut into strips and a pinch of salt. Cook for a few more minutes, then turn off the heat.
- In a large bowl, mix ricotta cheese with a good help of freshly ground black pepper and a ladleful of pasta water to create a thick and creamy sauce.
- When pasta is ready, drain it and add it to the bowl along with zucchini and dried tomatoes. Mix everything gently to combine the ingredients.
- Garnish with toasted pine nuts and serve immediately.
More Zucchini Recipes:
Zucchini Basil Soup with Lemon
Zucchini Noodles Baked in Olive Oil (Low Carb Pasta)
Zucchini Pie with Feta (Crete)
Greek Omelette with Zucchini and Mint (Crete)
Could you sub. Ricotta for cottage cheese to cut calories?
I would focus more on eating a smaller serving. The cottage cheese substitution won’t make that big of a difference. It is a very filling meal. I would just look at making it turn into 3 servings instead of two. The other thing you could do is use only 2 ounces of pasta per person instead of three. Hope that helps! -Bill