Penne pasta with zucchini and butter

Neil Perry
Pasta topped with seasoned zucchini and butter.
Pasta topped with seasoned zucchini and butter.  Photo: William Meppem

In this pasta dish I've opted for penne, but you can use any short pasta. Likewise, lots of different vegetables can take the place of zucchini – just cut them fine so they melt into the sauce. Finally, don't buy cheap pasta. This dish is so simple you want the pasta to be the hero, and you can taste the difference in quality.


2 medium zucchini

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, peeled and thinly sliced

320g penne

150g butter, softened

freshly chopped parsley, to serve

50g grated parmesan, to serve


1. Wash the zucchini and trim the ends. Cut into 1cm-thick discs. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil.

2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a frying pan large enough to hold the zucchini in one layer. Add garlic and cook until softened, about one minute. Add zucchini, season and cook on both sides until beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, cook the penne in the boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving a little of the cooking water. 

4. Add half the butter to zucchini, stir and lower the heat. Continue cooking, adding small amounts of the pasta water, if needed, to loosen any bits of zucchini stuck to the pan. Stir and scrape until zucchini slices have become soft and creamy, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in remaining butter and season to taste.

5. Add the penne to the zucchini mixture and toss. Season to taste and serve with the chopped parsley and grated parmesan.