Sunday, July 7, 2013

Tomato, Brown Butter, Ricotta Pasta with Zucchini and Roasted Garlic

I know that as an adult human being who lives in this thing we call society, I should share.  I should want to share.  And this desire is one I should be attempting to cultivate in my offspring.  Perhaps by modeling such behavior myself.

But this is easier said than done.

We have our favorite brunch spot.  Rustic servingware, with mason jars as far as the eye can see.  Pomegranate mimosas. Delicious food offerings. Friendly servers.  And best of all, a location on a rail line.  Which means Max can eagerly anticipate the passing of a train.  It feels like the most perfect of morning dining spots in the entire world for us.

Despite our love for this establishment, there is a reticence in sharing this location with others.  I don't want to sully its amazingness with a bad memory.  With someone who won't appreciate all it has to offer.  Or what if they now think it is their spot, when we were the ones who found it first?  Is it really such an awful thing to have a secret spot?  Am I a supremely selfish human being?

I suppose I have a guilty conscience about this.  To assuage my guilt just a bit, I am sharing a pasta dish with one of man's most wonderful substances - brown butter.  A tomato sauce with roasted zucchini slices, roasted garlic, browned butter, and ricotta cheese.

I suppose I do have the ability to share.  But only when I want to.

2 medium zucchini, sliced on mandolin
pasta of choice (pictured above: penne)
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

1 head garlic
extra virgin olive oil

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 small onion, halved
1/3 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup basil leaves, torn

To make the zucchini:  Heat oven to 400.  Place zucchini slices in a 9 x 13 pan, drizzle with oil, salt, and pepper, and roast for about 20 minutes until all brown and melty.

To make the roasted garlic:  Heat oven to 400. Take off the papery outer skin of the garlic bulb. Don’t remove all the skin, just the stuff that comes off easily. The head of garlic should still remain intact. Slice off the pointy end of the bulb to expose all the cloves. Place in a small greased ramekin and cover with olive oil. Sprinkle just a pinch of salt and cover with aluminum foil. Place in oven and roast for about 45 minutes. The cloves of garlic will be all nice and soft.

To make the sauce:  In a large sauté pan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Let the butter brown, about 5-7 minutes. You will see brown specks that have formed on the bottom of the pan. Be careful to not burn the butter, otherwise the taste will be altered. Add in the roasted zucchini slices and roasted cloves of garlic. Mix those into the browned butter. Stir in crushed tomatoes. Add onion halves. Let the mixture come together over low heat for about 40 minutes. Once the onion halves are soft, remove from the sauce. Add cheeses. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with basil.

Serve with pasta (I used penne) cooked according to manufacturer's directions.


  1. I know exactly where you're coming from! In college I found a "hidden" clearing amid a cluster of bushes on campus, perfect for reading and sneaking in a quick sun nap. I made the mistake of telling my tall roommate about it and soon after discovered her and her bf (who was even taller) sullying my sacred space and trying to make it large enough to accommodate their stupid tallness. :P To this day I think it's officially a make out den...and my nickname is Hobbit.

    You're not selfish. And this pasta looks delish!! :D

  2. sometimes sharing is overrated.

    This pasta, for instance, looks WAY too delicious for me to share ;)

  3. I would definitely not be sharing this with ANYONE!! Looks too good!!

  4. Oh my gah, this is like the most perfect pasta dish ever. I'll totally take this over the location of your favorite brunch spot.

  5. What a flavorful, healthy pasta sauce! It would make a terrific meatless meal.

  6. I'm loving this pasta dish and I happen to have some zucchini at home! Just need to pick up the rest of the ingredients. This is totally happening this week.

  7. I would have a hard time sharing this pasta!

  8. I am having a hard time not putting a fork through my computer :P


  9. It's a catch 22. You don't want to crowd up your secret place but you want them to have enough business to stay in business. So you must share their location to some. I wouldn't share this pasta, though. All mine! :)

  10. With this awesome sauce, I think, everything will taste fab! Wow, I love this dish. Zucchini is my favourite veggie!!

  11. Beautiful meatless salad! I only need a fork right now!

  12. This good I could drink it!

  13. Def not selfish, I feel the same way about special places. With everything else changing and shifting in life, it's so nice to have those spots we can go to and feel at home. But uhh would you share a plate of this? :) Looks amazing!

  14. This sounds great, ideal mid-week meal.

  15. Talking about the ability of sharing: thanks for sharing this wonderful pasta dish :)

  16. I love making roasted garlic! I buy a big bag of garlic from costco and makes it once in a while. I have to try adding into pasta next tiime! This looks delicious!


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