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Summer Pasta Solution #1 – Penne with Zucchini, Ricotta & Chickpeas

Summer is officially here! And along with the beach parties, cookouts and s’mores, it’s time to complain about zucchini!  Get ready, overzealous gardeners every where are about to start leaving crazy amounts of zucchini on your doorstep. I’ve never been lucky enough to live next door to someone whose zucchini crop gets out of control every summer, but if you do, this pasta dish will take care of some of that squash and you don’t even have to break out the spiralizer.

The inspiration for this one comes from Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors, a fantastic cookbook for farmers market season. It’s an oldie but goodie, but I go back to it every summer, so much that the pages in the peppers and eggplant section are about ready to fall out. It’s currently $1.99 on Kindle – and for that price, you really can’t go wrong.

penne with zucchini, ricotta and chickpeas in a pan |dailywaffle

I like to mix the long, skinny green and gold zucchini varieties, but whatever summer squash you’ve got will work, even yellow patty pans.  I’ve amped up the flavor adding garlic and red pepper flakes, and chickpeas for protein. Toasted panko (Japanese bread crumbs) tops off the dish with needed texture.

If you don’t finish it all the first night, you’ll want to add a small dollop of ricotta and a little more parmesan to your leftovers, to get the same deliciousness in your lunch the next day.

penne with zucchini, ricotta and chickpeas |dailywaffle


penne with zucchini, ricotta and chickpeas in a bowl |dailywaffle

Penne with Zucchini, Ricotta & Chickpeas

Print Recipe
Serves: 4


  • 1 T. + 1 t. olive oil, divided
  • ¼ c. panko crumbs
  • 10 oz. penne pasta
  • ~1 lb. of zucchini (green & gold), cut into half inch slices on the bias and then into spears, so they’re roughly the same shape as the penne
  • 1/4 t. red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 c. fresh whole milk ricotta
  • 1 c. chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • ¼ c. grated parmesan cheese + more for serving



To toast the panko, combine 1 t. olive oil and ¼ c. panko in a small pan over medium high heat. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the panko turns golden brown. Once it starts to brown, it will quickly burn, so keep stirring and turn the crumbs out of the pan as soon as they reach the desired color.


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt generously with kosher salt and cook according to package directions for the minimum time recommended to reach al dente.


While the penne is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium-heat. Add 1 T. olive oil and red pepper flakes. Add the zucchini and cook 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. You don’t want it to brown. Season the zucchini with a pinch of salt. Reduce heat to medium, stir in the garlic and chickpeas and cook for 2-3 minutes more until the chickpeas are heated through.


When the pasta is done, reserve ½ c. pasta water. Drain the penne and add it directly to the pan of zucchini. Add the ricotta, stirring until the pasta is evenly coated. If your ricotta is fairly thick, add the pasta water, a little at a time, until the ricotta loosens and coats the pasta easily. Stir in the parmesan cheese.


If serving it directly from the pan, sprinkle with the panko crumbs, otherwise just take the panko to the table and let each person do their own. Serve with additional parmesan cheese to garnish.


Every summer zucchini seems to take over gardens everywhere and inevitably a neighbor will leave a pile on your doorstep. This vegetarian pasta takes advantage of the bounty and builds on a Deborah Madison recipe adding chickpeas for extra protein and the crunch of panko crumbs for texture.







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