Pasta is my ultimate comfort food. This dish is one of my favorites, and if you know me and have ever asked me what you should cook, I’ve probably told you to make pasta e zucchini. All you need is 35 minutes to reach comfort-food nirvana.
First, some background. In Naples, where Mom comes from, there are several one-pot pasta and vegetable dishes that start out cooking like soup, but end up with almost a creamy consistency when the liquid is absorbed. My Nonna’s original version of this dish was like that. She started by heating olive oil in a pot, adding onions and garlic, and then tomato, zucchini, salt and pepper. Once the vegetables were tender, she’d add four cups of water, bring it to a boil, and add the pasta, cooking it without draining. Then she’d add in freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
When I grew up and started cooking for my own family, I decided to try making the pasta e zucchini a little more soup-like. I added chicken stock and increased the total volume of liquid by 50%. I also omitted the onions (by accident at first, and then on purpose after I found I preferred it that way).
The result is a pasta dish with broth, but not too much. Once you dish out the servings, any pasta e zucchini left in the pan will quickly absorb most of the remaining liquid. (To avoid soggy leftovers, I remove any extra broth from the pan at that point and store it separately.)
Also, I’ve always used a fresh tomato in this dish, but discovered recently that a bit of tomato paste makes a great substitute if I’m out of tomatoes. In fact, my husband prefers the way the tomato paste slightly thickens the broth. (It is really good.) I’ve listed both options in the recipe.
I hope you make this. Enjoy!
Recipe Source: Adapted from my Nonna’s method