2 pounds zucchini, about 2 medium
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, EVOO
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped or thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped or 2 teaspoons dried, lightly crushed
1 teaspoon red chili flakes, 1/3 palmful
1/2 cup white wine
1 pound spaghetti, or orecchiette
1 1/2 cups fresh ricotta cheese, sheep or cow milk, stir in the excess liquid or whey (do not drain)
12 - 15 basil leaves, torn or chiffonade
Freshly grated cheese to pass at table, if using sheep's milk ricotta, pass Pecorino; if using cow's milk, pass Parmigiano-Reggiano
Bring a large pot of water to boil for pasta.
If using spaghetti, halve the zucchini and scrape out seeds with a small spoon and thinly slice into half-moons. If you’re using orecchiette, chop zucchini into a ¼-inch dice.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with EVOO, 3 turns of the pan. Add the onions, garlic, thyme, chili flakes, and salt, stir a couple of minutes, then add zucchini and cook 4 to 5 minutes more, stirring frequently. Add wine and reduce the heat. Add the zest of the lemon.
Salt the pasta water generously and add the pasta. Cook 2 minutes less than directed by package so about 7 for spaghetti and 10 to 11 minutes for orecchiette. Remove a cup of starchy cooking water from the pot.
Drain pasta and add to zucchini along with the ricotta and the juice of the zested lemon. Toss to combine 1 to 2 minutes to absorb flavor. Wilt basil into pasta and sauce. Adjust salt and pepper to taste, and serve in shallow bowls and top with grated cheese at the table.