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Penne with buttery courgettes

Penne with buttery courgettes

I cook and eat a lot of pasta, but you wouldn’t know it from my Recipe Index! When I rearranged my recipes a couple of weeks ago, I suddenly realised that I actually didn’t have many pasta recipes on here and, for a so called family food blog, that is frankly ridiculous. I think, previously what has stopped me posting my pasta recipes on here is me thinking that they weren’t ‘special’ enough. But through talking to friends and gaining feedback on the blog recently, I am discovering that simple, quick, healthy recipes like this is what you lot want. So, apols for the last two recipes being pasta, but I’m playing catch up, OK?!

This is a very easy but very delicious pasta dish that goes against how I usually cook courgette. I normally either griddle it (as here) or mix with feta and turn into fritters (here), or sometimes I grate it and cook quickly with anchovies and garlic then mix with spaghetti (not made it onto here yet!). Quickly braising it this way, with butter, parsley and garlic (and a little chilli, feel free to omit) makes it really sweet and tender. I can’t believe how good this dish is, given the time and effort involved. Bea loved it. Artie, who at nearly 4 is going through a perfectly normal but testing fussy stage, agreed to eat a few bits of courgette after some gentle coaxing but wolfed the pasta down in seconds. Neither minded (or noticed) the hint of chilli that I added.

If you don’t have fresh parsley in (I know it’s not always an easy thing to get last minute on your way home from work or whatever) then simply leave it out – do not even think about using dried parsley – you know what, if you have a jar of that awful stuff lurking in your cupboards somewhere I implore you to chuck it in the bin ASAP! Buy the best pasta you can afford; for a relatively small difference in amount spent, you will get a much better result if you choose a better, more expensive brand.

Serves: 4 adults
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes

3 medium sized courgettes, diced into 1cm squares roughly
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
Small bunch of parsley, roughly chopped
400g penne
Juice and zest of half a lemon
Pinch of dried chilli flakes
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
50g butter
100g freshly grated parmesan
Salt and pepper – be generous


  1. First get your largest pan filled, yes filled, with water. Salt it well. Bring to the boil. 
  2. Meanwhile, thinly slice garlic and dice your courgettes. Warm the oil over a low to medium heat and gently cook your garlic – stir and don’t let it colour – for about 5 minutes. Add your diced courgettes, turn up the heat to medium and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring. Watch that your garlic doesn’t burn. 
  3. Your pasta water should be boiling by now so toss in the penne and let it boil for a minute or two less than it says on the packet. Just before you drain the pasta, scoop out and reserve half a mugful of starchy water – this is to mix in afterwards. 
  4. Add the butter, chilli (if using), zest and juice of half a lemon, salt and pepper and parsley to the courgettes, stir well, add a lid to the pan and cook gently for 5 minutes more over a medium heat. Then taste, season again if required. 
  5. Drain pasta and tip back into the large pan. Add your courgette mixture and splash a few tablespoons of water in. Mix well. Throw in half of the cheese and toss again. You may need a little more water. Taste again and if happy, serve with more cheese at the table. This dish lives or dies on its seasoning and generous amount of parmesan so don’t be backwards in coming forwards! 

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