serving of penne pasta with zucchini and basil

How to make pasta with zucchini and basil

Basil smells, no reeks, like summer, in all the good ways. It’s right up there with fresh-cut grass, saltwater, and sunblock, only you can eat it. Toss it with zucchini and you have a veritable summer garden on your plate. Okay, maybe that analogy is a bit extreme, but you get the point. Basil smells really good.

I made this recipe with Roman zucchini which is more flavorful than the standard variety and has fewer seeds and less water. It also has a strong nutty taste. It’s becoming more common outside of Italy and you can find it in some farmers’ markets or even buy some seeds to plant your own.

But you can make this recipe with any variety of zucchini. The right kind of zucchini is, of course, the one you have.

P.S. You can also make zucchini pasta with bacon as I did with guanciale in one of the recipes over here.

Pasta with zucchini and basil

  • Zucchini, cut into small cubes or half-moons, skins on (somewhere between 1 and 8? It all depends on the size. Mine were super tiny. I used a shocking 8, but 1 huge zucchini could also work)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 2 oil-packed anchovy fillets
  • A handful of basil, minced
  • Pasta – 250 grams for two people (125 grams each). I used penne (I love penne!) but most shapes will work.
  • Coarse salt for the pasta water
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  1. Cook the crushed clove of garlic, red pepper chili flakes, and anchovy fillets in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until the garlic is golden and the anchovy fillets dissolve. Discard the garlic.
  2. Add the zucchini and cook until it starts to tan and then add some water to cook them long and slow. They should eventually start to turn golden and get mushy and caramelize.
  3. When the zucchini is almost done cooking, add the basil, mix well and cook for a few minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the pasta al dente.
  5. Drain the pasta, making sure to save some of the pasta water, and add the pasta to the zucchini with some pasta water.
  6. Cook over medium-high heat for about 30 seconds while tossing. Add more pasta water if needed.
  7. Add a handful of grated parmesan cheese and toss some more.
  8. Plate and serve.

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