Hollieats: Back to school basics 

One Pot Lemon Butter Ricotta and Zucchini Pasta | halfbakedharvest.com
One pot lemon butter ricotta and zucchini pasta, recipe below. Photo from Half-Baked Harvest.

We’re back to in-person classes next week, which means most residential students will be moving back in this weekend, if they haven’t already. I don’t know about you, but I’ve gotten used to eating my mom’s cooking or ordering take-out with the family while I was home for winter break. It’s going to be a bit tough getting back in the swing of independent living at my apartment at school, but I’m hoping to imbue the responsibility of cooking with some excitement. I enjoy grocery shopping and eating, and cooking seems to naturally accompany the two. I’ve been perusing Instagram and Pinterest for recipes to try during the semester, and here are two cozy, (hopefully) easy recipes on my list. 

Feel free to adjust some ingredients with what you have or to your preferences. As college students, it’s more convenient to switch out a vegetable or protein to cook a recipe than buy a bunch of new ingredients to try to execute it perfectly. If you haven’t already, you’ll figure out what staples you should keep around in your fridge or pantry. And feel free to be liberal with some of your seasonings — I know I am! 

One pot lemon butter ricotta and zucchini pasta (adapted from Half Baked Harvest) 

Total Time: 25 minutes 

Prep Time: 10 minutes 

Cook Time: 15 minutes 

Makes six servings 


  • One small shallot or yellow onion, chopped 
  • Two cloves of garlic, chopped 
  • Two tablespoons of thyme 
  • Fresh leaves are best, but dried works too 
  • One teaspoons lemon zest 
  • Use lemon juice if you don’t have fresh lemons 
  • One pound short cut pasta 
  • My favorites are penne and cavatappi 
  • Two zucchini or yellow summer squash, grated 
  • About two to two and half cups grated 
  • Four cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth 
  • Salt and black pepper 
  • Red pepper flakes 
  • One cup whole milk ricotta cheese 
  • One half cup shredded gouda or fontina cheese 
  • One cup fresh basil, chopped or dried 


  1. In a large pot over medium heat, sauté the butter, garlic, shallot, thyme, lemon zest and a big pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook until the butter browns and the garlic is fragrant (about three minutes). 
  1. Stir in the pasta and toss to coat in the lemon butter. Stir in the zucchini and broth. Season with salt and pepper. 
  1. Bring to a boil over high heat. Simmer five to eight minutes until the pasta is al dente. 
  1. Stir in the ricotta, cheese and basil. Cook another few minutes until the sauce is creamy and the basil is wilted. Add reserved pasta water if the sauce is too thick. 
  1. The pasta is ready to serve! Top with any parmesan cheese, more red pepper flakes, breadcrumbs or any fresh herbs on hand. 
File:Broccoli cheddar soup with a pretzel and mustard.jpg
Broccoli cheddar soup. Photo from Justin Smith/Wikimedia Commons.

Broccoli cheddar soup (adapted from Budget Bytes) 

Total Time: 50 minutes 

Prep Time: 10 minutes 

Cook Time: 40 minutes 

Makes four two-cup servings 


  • One yellow onion, diced 
  • One pound of broccoli, chopped 
  • Two carrots, peeled and sliced 
  • Four tablespoons of butter 
  • Four tablespoons of all-purpose flour 
  • Two cups of chicken broth 
  • Two cups of whole milk 
  • One-half teaspoon of smoked paprika 
  • One-fourth teaspoon garlic powder 
  • One-fourth teaspoon of (freshly cracked) black pepper 
  • One-eighth teaspoon of cayenne pepper 
  • Six ounces of sharp cheddar, shredded 


  1. Sauté the butter and onion in a large soup pot over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the flour and continue to sauté for about two more minutes or until the flour coats the bottom of the pot and is a light golden brown color. 
  1. Add the chicken broth and whisk to dissolve all the flour off the bottom of the pot. Turn the heat up to medium-high. Stir often and allow the broth to come to a simmer, thickening to a gravy consistency. 
  1. Turn the heat back down to medium, and whisk in the milk, smoked paprika, garlic powder, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Allow the broth to come back to a simmer again. 
  1. Add the chopped broccoli and carrots. Allow the broth and vegetables to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring often, or until the carrots are tender. 
  1. Turn the heat down to medium-low and stir the shredded cheese into the soup, one handful at a time, until it is fully melted. Add salt to taste. 
  1. The soup is ready to serve! Eat with crusty bread and more cheese. 

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