Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Penne with zucchini, basil and mint

Monster zucchini from my mom's garden

This is one of those recipes that I stumbled across and immediately adored. It's from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian, which is an amazing, enormous cookbook full of information as well as recipes. I think I first picked it up back in high school, when my little sister suddenly announced her intention of going vegan. I did most of the cooking back then and while we've never been a total meat and potatoes family, veganism was a whole new thing. This (not so little) book helped out a lot and took the intimidation factor down a notch. It isn't a vegan cookbook, but a lot of the recipes are easily adaptable, like this one.

Salted zucchini patiently waiting to be used

This particular recipe is simple and perfect and tastes just like summer to me. Slowly cooked onions, a big pile of tender zucchini and lots of fresh mint and basil tossed in at the end. I only use whole wheat penne anymore because I prefer the texture.

Penne with Zucchini and Basil from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian
  • 3-4 medium sized zucchini (~14 oz)
  • Salt
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced into fine half rings
  • 1/4 cup stock (veggie, chicken, whatever)
  • ~30 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 lb penne
  • 4-6 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
1. Halve zucchini lengthwise and cut into 1/4" thick slices. Place in a bowl, toss with 1 tsp salt and let sit for 30 minutes. Drain and pat dry.
2. Saute onion for 5 minutes. Add zucchini and cook another 5 minutes. Add more salt if needed.
3. Add stock, stir and turn off heat. Add basil and mint and toss.
4. Cook pasta, drain and add zucchini mixture. Finish off with pepper and cheese, if desired.


Now for the modifications - you can easily use less oil, if you're worried about that sort of thing. I usually use the full amount, but I've cut it back to two tbsp without any trouble. I always cook the onions for much longer than 5 minutes, over low heat, because I love them when they start to caramelize. You could use different cheese, more cheese, less cheese, or no cheese at all. I let people add cheese at the table.

The biggest modification that I became aware of last night - less pasta would be fine. Next time I think I'll only add 1/2 lb of pasta, making this four servings instead of eight. A higher veggie to pasta ratio would make me happy, but I'm not a huge pasta lover. For this week, though, I'm glad to have the leftovers, because it means I won't need to cook again for a couple days.


  1. rachel! it's angel, krissy's friend. ;-) i am absolutely in love with your blog and just went back and read all of your old entries. i'm hooked!

  2. this recipe sounds (and looks!) so yummy. and i must admit i'm not a fan of zucchini, but i would definitely eat this up in minutes. thanks for sharing :) and thank you for adding my blog to your list, i agree that we have very similar tastes...i'll be adding you as well :)

  3. Thanks, Angel! I drool over your website (and blog) regularly, so I'm very flattered!
    Megan, you might like zucchini in this dish, because it's really cooked, not half raw the way it usually gets served. But I'll be sharing lots of non-zucchini recipes as well. Looking forward to seeing more of your entries.


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