This is a much-loved pasta dish in my repertoire. The zucchini are cooked until very soft and creamy, making this super light yet very moreish. It’s easy to whip for a weeknight dinner, particularly if you’re looking for a champion vegetarian meal that everyone will love.
- 500 g penne (or any tubular pasta of your choice)
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and bruised
- 2–3 small zucchini (about 400 g), cut into 5 mm thick rounds
- 1 small handful of basil leaves
- 1 small handful of mint leaves
- 1½ tbsp pine nuts
- 20 g parmesan, finely grated, plus extra to serve
- salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil, add the pasta and cook until just al dente.
2. While the pasta is cooking, heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large sauté pan over medium–high heat. Add the garlic and zucchini, toss to coat the zucchini in the oil and cook for 3–4 minutes to soften and colour a little. Add 500 ml (2 cups) of water and cook for 12–15 minutes until the zucchini is tender and the water has evaporated.
3. Transfer the zucchini and garlic to a blender, add the herbs, pine nuts, parmesan and salt and pepper and blend until smooth and silky. Add the remaining oil and blend again.
4. Drain the pasta and place back in the pan. Add the zucchini crema and toss to coat completely. Serve with the extra parmesan and a sprinkle of pepper.
• The zucchini crema freezes well in an airtight container. Simply thaw and reheat, then fold through freshly cooked pasta.
Recipe from The Weeknight Cookbook by Justine Schofield (Plum, $34.99), Photography by Jeremy Simons.