Spaghettini of zucchini, mint, currants, pine nuts and pecorino

Karen Martini
Vegetables can be the hero of a dish when handled correctly.
Vegetables can be the hero of a dish when handled correctly. Photo: Marina Oliphant

This recipe reminds me of my time in Sardinia. The vibrant, minty pesto is a perfect foil for the sweet zucchini and currants, and the pecorino adds a distinctive savoury tang.


50g mint

40g parsley, blanched & chopped

40g basil leaves

2 small cloves garlic, sliced

60g pine nuts, toasted, plus extra to sprinkle over just before serving

150ml extra-virgin olive oil

120g pecorino, grated

Salt flakes and ground black pepper

250g spaghettini

3 medium zucchini, sliced and julienned, in the longest strips possible

80ml milk

2 tbsp currants, simmered in 1 tbsp red wine vinegar for 1 minute


1. Roughly chop the mint and the parsley.

2. Process the herbs, garlic, pine nuts and oil together in a food processor or blender until you have a smoothish paste, then add the cheese and a splash of water and blitz briefly again.

3. Season with sea salt and a generous amount of black pepper.

4. Cook the spaghettini for seven to eight minutes. Meanwhile, put the zucchini in the bottom of a large saucepan. Lift the spaghettini out of the water and place it on top of the zucchini. Allow to sit off the heat for 30 seconds, which will allow the zucchini to soften. Add enough of the pesto to coat the pasta completely without drowning it (I usually have about a quarter left over), toss, then add the milk.

5. Let the pasta bubble over high heat for a minute to combine, add a little extra cheese and a splash of olive oil, if necessary, and toss through.
Check seasoning, sprinkle with the extra pine nuts and currants, and serve.

Tip: Keep any leftover pesto in an airtight jar for a week with a thin layer of oil over the top.