CLASSIC pasta penne with zucchini and butter
         

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This very rich sauce, understandable given the amount of butter, is a function of the zucchini breaking down in the cooking, becoming a coating sauce of its own. The zucchini still almost retains its structure (it is not a puree) but it is cooked more than just tender-crisp. And the mint flavor adds the finishing touch.

for the sauce:

  • one-quarter pound (8 tablespoons) sweet butter
  • one tablespoon vegetable oil
  • one and one-half pounds zucchini
  • three cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped fine
  • one-quarter cup chopped mint (chopped frfesh basil is an excellent option
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • freshly grated parmesan

for the pasta:

  • one pound of penne is ideal, although fusilli would also work

Prepare the zucchini. Wash in cold water for ten minutes and then wipe dry. Cut off the ends. Then cut the zucchini into approximately 1/2 inch cubes. The best way to do this is to cut the zucchini in half, lengthwise. If the zucchini s large, cut each half again, length-wise. And then cut the strips into half-inch pieces. This should give you the proper approximate shape.

Put the tablespoon of vegetable oil and 6 tablespoons of the butter in a saute pan, that will be large enough to accommodate the pasta. As soon as the butter melts, add the zucchini and cook over a medium heat until the zucchini get soft, about seven minutes. Then add the garlic and continue cooking approximately another three minutes. The test is when the zucchini are very soft but still retain some shape. Do not put the garlic in too soon. The garlic should be golden but not burnt when the sauce is ready.

When the zucchini is almost perfect, add the final two tablespoons of butter and the chopped mint. Stir and set aside.

Meanwhile bring 4-5 quarts of water to a raging boil. Add a tablespoon of salt. Drop in the pasta and stir. Continue cooking until al dente (or just a touch short of al dente). Drain somewhat, although the pasta should carry a little moisture.

Bring the sauce to heat again. Add the pasta to the sauce. Stir very well (as the zucchini starts to break up a little). Cover and cook for a minute over medium heat.

Stir again. Serve, adding a tablespoon of parmesan to each dish.

Variation with tomato:

The zucchini sauce is a favorite in Naples and Capri and along the Amalfi coast. Here is a variation, using tomatoes.

for the sauce

  • one-quarter cup olive oil
  • one medium onion, finely diced
  • one garlic clove, peeled and chopped very fine
  • 1 1/2 pounds zucchini
  • two medium tomatoes, peeled and diced in one-inch squares
  • one-quarter cup parsley, chopped
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • freshly grated parmesan

Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and the onion and saute for two minutes. Add the zucchini, tomatoes and parsley and cook over low to medium heat for fifteen minutes or until the zucchini and tomatoes are almost a sauce themselves. Taste for salt and pepper. Set aside.

Meanwhile bring 4-5 quarts of water to a raging boil. Add two tablespoons of salt. Drop in the pasta and stir. Continue cooking until al dente (or just a touch short of al dente). Drain somewhat, although the pasta should carry a little moisture.

Bring the sauce to heat again. Add the pasta to the sauce. Stir very well. Cover and cook for a minute over medium heat.

Stir again. Serve, adding a tablespoon of parmesan to each dish.

 

 

 

 

 


 

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