Summer Squash Shells with Ricotta

Adapted from The Glorious Pasta of Italy

I┬árecently had the good fortune of meeting Domenica Marchetti, the author of the gorgeous cookbook from which this recipe originated. Every dish has a story and the photographs are stunningly beautiful as well. This dish is simple and pure. She’s taken a childhood favorite – mac and cheese – and created something wholesome and seasonal. Having met Domenica, I can say that her cooking is perfectly in line with her warm and welcoming demeanor. This is the very first dish in which we used our own homemade ricotta!

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 medium yellow squash, finely diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound medium shells
  • 1-1/2 cups handmade ricotta
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the diced onion and cook until tender, about 6 to 7 minutes. Add the diced squash and the salt to the pan. Turn the heat up to medium and cook until the squash is tender but still holding its shape, about 10 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and keep it warm.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it generously. Cook the pasta shells according to package directions for al dente. Just before draining the pasta, scoop out about a cup of the starchy water. You will use this to make the sauce. It can be easy to forget to do this (and once that water is gone, it’s gone!), so I like to set a measuring cup next to the pot as a reminder. I haven’t forgotten since I started using that trick.
  • Meanwhile, put the ricotta cheese in a bowl. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over it, then give it a few cranks of the pepper grinder. Stir until completly blended.
  • Drain the pasta, then add it back to the warm pot. Add the squash and onion mixture and the ricotta cheese, stirring gently. Add the Parmigiano and a little of the water. Use the cooking water to control the consistency of your sauce. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  • Serve immediately.
  • Quick Tips
  • 1. Though it would have made this dish even prettier, I peeled the zucchini in anticipation of whining from my green-averse wee ones. The green color is still evident, though much more pale.
  • 2. I happened to use my own handmade ricotta for this recipe. Of course, it’s not necessary. You can use store-bought ricotta, though I recommend the freshly made variety found at farmer’s markets and finer grocery stores.
  • 3. This dish was also delicious for lunch the next day. The recipe makes 4 generous dinner portions and 2 lunch-sized portions as well.
  • 4. I have categorized this dish as both Super Fast and a Sunday Supper – complete opposites. The difference is really in whether or not you want to make your own ricotta and if so, you make it same-day. For a Sunday, you can easily make the ricotta in the late afternoon and use it in the recipe. I wouldn’t recommend this for a weeknight. Use pre-made or purchased ricotta on a weeknight and it’s indeed super fast.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)

Cooking time: 15 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 6


3 responses to “Summer Squash Shells with Ricotta”

  1. Thank you for the kind shout-out. I love that you made your own ricotta for this recipe. That makes it even better, doesn’t it? This is one of my favorites for summer.

    • Alicia says:

      Yes, the homemade ricotta made a wonderful recipe even more enjoyable. Thank YOU for terrific recipe, Domenica!

  2. Natalie Burns says:

    Just browsing through the website and I’m in charge of dinner tomorrow night and have decided to make this! So excited! I’ll let you know how it turns out!

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