When I announced to Angela what I was making for dinner last night, she was distinctly less than excited. In her defense, my motive for choosing this recipe was mainly that I had a zucchini that had been sitting in the fridge long enough that I had started to worry whether or not it had turned into a home for something else. Luckily for us it had not.
I say luckily as both Angela and I enjoyed it immensely. This pasta was significantly better than it had any right to be given its ingredients. It’s very simple and I always appreciate simple food but, looking at the recipe alone, I didn’t see anything that would differentiate it from the mass of other pasta recipes that have a base of tomatoes.
However, the distinct flavor of the fried zucchini slices makes the dish truly compelling. It provides a nice counterpoint to the acidity of the tomatoes. The peas are nice but mainly from a color and nutritional perspective.
But what will really keep me coming back to this recipe is how quick it is to make. The longest part of the preparation is waiting for the water to boil and then cooking the pasta. The sauce can be made entirely in the time that the pasta cooks. It also reheats the next day fairly well.
Penne con le Zucchine Fritte, Piselli e Pomodori (Penne with Fried Zucchini, Peas, and Tomatoes)
Adapted from Trattoria Cooking: More than 200 authentic recipes from Italy’s family-style restaurants
1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4″ thick rounds
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 clove garlic, finely diced
salt and pepper
1 cup frozen peas
1 tbsp butter
1 lbs penne
1 cup grated Parmigiano Regiano
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the penne for one minute less than the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini and cook until both sides are golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.
- Add the garlic and stir briefly.
- Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook over high heat until most of the tomato juice has evaporated, about 4 minutes.
- Add the peas and the butter and cook over low heat until the peas are warmed through, about 1 minute.
- Drain the pasta, reserving the pasta water. Add the pasta to the sauce and cook for one minute over medium heat, stirring regularly. If the pasta is dry, add some of the reserved pasta water.
- Remove from the heat and stir in half of the parmigiano.
- Serve sprinkled with the remaining parmigiano.