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Zucchini and pasta

(Photo by Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff; styling by Sheryl Julian and Catherine Smart)
August 17, 2011

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You can use any short pasta for this dish, which is surprisingly flavorful. Sauteed zucchini, mashed when tender, makes a simple sauce. If you like, add a spoonful of cream or milk, 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, or 1 cup peas when the pasta and zucchini are tossed together.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
6 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 pound penne or other short pasta (straight or curly)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup packed fresh mint leaves, torn

1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. When it is hot, add the garlic, zucchini, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 15 minutes or until the zucchini is quite tender,

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until the pasta is tender but still has some bite. Dip a heatproof glass measuring cup into the pasta cooking water and remove 1/2 cup. Drain the pasta into a colander and return it to the pot.

3. With a potato masher, mash the zucchini until it is coarse. Stir in the Parmesan and add the mixture to the cooked pasta. Stir well over low heat until the pasta is hot. Add a few spoons of the pasta cooking water if the mixture seems dry. Stir in the mint. Anne V. Nelson. Adapted from “The River Cottage Cookbook’’