I’ve got a another simple pasta recipe to show you in this video.  Here, I combining Penne pasta, with a "sauce" made with zucchini,  red bell pepper, garlic and shallot.  This recipe is the ultimate in NoRecipeRequired, as the ingredients are so flexible you can swap anything in or out.  It’s really the techniques that make the dish great.  If you don’t like zucchini, use eggplant, tomato, carrots….just about anything, and as long as you make sure the flavors are in balance, the pasta is cooked right, and seasoned well, you’re going to end up with a tasty, easy, and healthy pasta recipe.  Oh yeah, as a side benefit, you can make this recipe is less than 40 minutes from the time you get hungry.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Recipe overview and Keys to Success

To make the best Penne with Zucchini and Red Pepper you need to know just a few things:

  • Make sure the penne is cooked to al Dente.  Check it a couple minutes before the directions on the box.  And the only good way to test…is to taste.
  • Once cooked, toss the pasta in the pan with the vegetables for a few minutes.  This allows the penne to soak up some of the flavors and make a composed dish, rather than vegetables on top of pasta.
  • I also like to keep the zucchini and red pepper al dente; rather than soggy.  So don’t start them too early.  Or if they are getting too cooked, remove them from the pan to wait for the pasta.
  • Watch the garlic carefully.  Finely chopped garlic can burn quickly and the taste gets bad.  You can either add it later than the shallots and other vegetables, or just make sure to watch the heat
  • Finally, the real key to this pasta recipe if balance.  So taste before you serve.  If it’s bland, it probably just needs more seasoning….but you can also add more cheese, lemon juice or herbs.

RECIPE FOR PENNE WITH ZUCCHINI AND RED PEPPER

Ingredients (for 2)

  • Half cup of julienned zucchini
  • Half cup of julienned red bell pepper
  • 2 garlic clove minced or finely chopped
  • 1 large shallot sliced
  • 4 tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • Olive oil

Making the Penne

  • While you bring a pot of salted water to the boil, prep your vegetables
  • Once boiling, drop the penne and stir (then stir every few minutes)
  • Heat a sauté pan over medium heat until hot, and add olive oil to coat
  • Add the shallots, red pepper and zucchini to the pan, season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine.  Add the garlic after a minute or so
  • Continue to cook until just softened; if the vegetables are ready before the pasta, you can turn off the heat to wait for the pasta (don’t overcook the vegetables)
  • Once the pasta is al dente, drain it, and then toss with the vegetables
  • You may need to add a bit more olive oil to keep the penne from sticking
  • Reseason with salt and pepper and continue to cook for 2 – 3 minutes, tossing occasionally
  • Add the butter, the chopped basil, and half the parmesan cheese; turn off the heat
  • Toss again to combine everything, then taste the pasta
  • Re-season if needed

Serve the penne up in nice pasta bowl, sprinkle a bit more parmesan cheese over the top and you are good to go.

Wine Recommendation: I think a simple chardonnay would go wonderfully with this Penne recipes.  But if you want something a bit more exotic, reach for a Viognier from the Rhone region in France.  The recipe, with the basil, zucchini and red pepper leans a bit in the direction of Provence, and a wine from the same area would go very nicely.

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