I came across a recipe recently for a classic Provencial dish, Penne with Zucchini Pistou, and I couldn’t wait to use the zucchini from our garden and make it. I had planned on making this dish last night after we got home from a long day at the studio, but I was so exhausted from all the late nights of work and travel. So, I instead decided I would simplify the dish and deconstruct all the bold flavors from the South of France that were featured in the original recipe and make it my way.
Pistou is to the French what pesto is to Italians, and I really love pesto, so I knew this recipe was a win. The only major thing missing from my recipe that was in the original was 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream, which is also part of the reason I decided to change the recipe up. Since we didn’t have any on hand and I didn’t feel like hitting the grocery store, I decided to skip it. I, of course, made this with gluten-free pasta and I served it with a beautiful green salad, made completely from our garden. This was the first salad of the season and it made me so incredibly happy.
This is a fantastic vegetarian entree or would make a lovely side dish as well. I can’t wait to make it again from the original recipe, heavy cream and all! Yum. Oh and if you are even thinking about leaving the toasted pine nuts out, or skipping the toasting step, you are CRAZY! Those toasted pine nuts make this dish!!
Penne with Deconstructed Zucchini Pistou
8 ounces uncooked organic brown rice penne pasta (or whatever pasta you prefer)
4 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 1/2 cups zucchini, sliced and quartered
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves, chopped roughly
3/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shredded
2 teaspoons kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
Boil water with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt in a large sauce pan over high heat, cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain over a bowl and reserve 1/3 cup of the cooking liquid, rinse pasta in hot water, drain. Leave in colander.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, add pine nuts and toast until golden brown, tossing often so they don’t burn. Remove from the pan and set aside in a bowl.
In the same large skillet heat 2 teaspoons of oil, over medium-high heat. Add 2 cloves garlic and zucchini to pan, saute 5-10 minutes until tender and golden. Salt and pepper to taste.
In a large serving bowl, add the pasta, zucchini, pine nuts, chopped basil, the last 2 cloves of minced garlic and 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Toss to combine and mix. Add the cheese to the pasta mixture and slowly add the reserved liquid as needed to coat the pasta and make it creamy. Toss again, salt and pepper to taste and top with a bit more shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.