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Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Zucchini and Ricotta

Americans tend to fall woefully short of the daily recommended 5 to 8 servings of whole grains. Whole wheat pasta is a much healthier choice than regular pasta, and it tastes great, too. Here, hearty whole wheat spaghetti combines with spicy zucchini and creamy ricotta cheese. It's easy to make homemade ricotta, and it only takes about a half an hour, so check out our homemade ricotta recipe if you're interested. You can grate the zucchini on a hand-held grater or with the shredding disk of a food processor.

4 Servings


1 lb

whole wheat spaghetti

2 Tbsp


1 ½ Tbsp

minced fresh garlic

½ tsp

red pepper flakes (or to taste)


zucchini (ends trimmed, coarsely grated)

1 cup

ricotta cheese (preferably whole milk)

grated zest of 2 lemons

¼ cup

minced fresh basil

½ cup

grated parmesan or Piave Vecchio cheese

½ cup

toasted bread crumbs (see note below)


Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt. Add the spaghetti and cook according to package directions until tender.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a very large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and pepper flakes, and sauté until the garlic is fragrant, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes. Add the grated zucchini and raise the heat to medium. Cook the mixture for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

When the spaghetti is cooked, transfer the pasta with tongs to the skillet with the zucchini. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Return the skillet to the stove over medium heat and add 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Stir in the ricotta, lemon zest, and basil. Add more pasta water as needed to create a light sauce that coats the spaghetti. Cook until the pasta is hot, 2 to 5 minutes.

To serve, divide among heated plates and garnish each serving with a sprinkling of cheese. Top with a sprinkling of toasted bread crumbs.

Note about toasted bread crumbs: Store-bought bread crumbs are generally too fine for this recipe, but it's easy to make your own. Place 1 or 2 slices of bread (stale is fine) in the food processor and pulse to chop. Spread the crumbs on a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 300 degrees F until they're dry and golden. Before using, toss the bread crumbs with one or two tablespoons of melted butter.


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