We don’t use white flour pasta too often and this is why at our house, “regular” pasta is a treat, and everyone feels sad for my husband.*
I’m not into whole wheat pasta that much, either, so when I noticed gluten free pastas on the shelf, I got dorkily excited and bought way too much. Are we gluten-free? Nooooo. No one in my family has any sort of allergy, there’s no celiac, none of that. But gluten-free pastas are usually made from ingredients that do actually provide nutritional value, and I’m all about that. I also dig the texture way more, depending on the variety, finding it actually closer to white pasta than whole wheat. Mysteries of life, you guys. I fell in love with this combination of flavors from Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook “Plenty” a couple years back and started craving it as soon as the crispness bowed out of the air, replaced by an early humidity and late sunset. It sounds weird, maybe: fried zucchini, capers, fresh basil, lemon, fresh mozzarella, edamame? I mean, that’s not your go-to pasta combo at the casino pasta station, right? But you know what? It damn well should be! I don’t know what it is or how Ottolenghi does it, but the briny capers are so striking, yet understated, against the beautifully browned zucchini. As for lemon and basil, obviously – we love those always. Fresh mozzarella? So beautiful with the lemon, so creamy and perfect a canvas against the capers! And the fresh, tender nuttiness of the edamame is just right paired with the herbaceous fresh basil. There’s so much flavor, but none overwhelms the other. We made this for dinner and ate it right away, but O also ate it for lunch and said it was just as good (if not better?) after a day or two. It’s the sort of dish you can make ahead and serve for an elegant summer dinner party when you want to impress everyone but be all like super chill the whole party, like “This? Like it’s hard?” I mean, I’m assuming that’s what everyone else does because they are all super chill when they throw a party and me, I’m all like EVERYONE GET THE FRICK OUT OF THE KITCHEN RIGHT NOW BEFORE I STAB YOU. Hosting intensity, this one. I used Ronzoni Gluten Free® Penne for this recipe and fell. in. love. Ronzoni sent me a ton of pasta to share my thoughts with you (and by a ton, I mean literally 50 pounds. No, you can’t have any), and my thoughts are – in all honesty – this stuff is amazing. It’s by far the closest gluten-free sub for white pasta I’ve found, and includes corn, rice, and quinoa flour (no guilt there, like nada). It’s super affordable, too, unlike most gluten-free pastas! They also make it in a dedicated gluten-free factory, so if you are cooking for an allergy, you can rest easy. This recipe is based on Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe in “Plenty”, but I changed a few things. First off, I reduced the basil to only 1 cup (from 2), because um, I don’t have a huge basil plant/I’m not a millionaire. I also added garlic, because GARLIC.
Fried Zucchini Basil Gluten-Free Pasta with Fresh Mozzarella
Flavorful gluten-free pasta with pan-fried zucchini, lots of basil, and fresh mozzarella. A beautiful summer dinner recipe.
- Salt and black pepper
- 2/3 cup oil for frying
- 3 medium zucchini , cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
- 1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 cup basil leaves , coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup parsley leaves
- 2 cloves garlic , peeled and smashed
- 1/3 cup + 1/2 tablespoon olive oil , divided
- 3/4 cup frozen edamame or peas , fresh or frozen
- 3 cups Ronzoni Gluten Free® penne pasta
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella , torn into chunks
- Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
- Fresh basil leaves , shredded, to garnish (optional)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat.
- Fry the zucchini: Meanwhile, heat frying oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry zucchini slices in batches for about 3-4 minutes, flipping once, 'til golden brown on both sides. Drain zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with a couple pinches of salt. Transfer to a large bowl and pour white wine vinegar on top.
- Make the herb sauce: combine the basil, parsley, garlic, and olive oil in a food processor or blender. Process or blend 'til smooth and season with salt and pepper.
- Cook the edamame: In boiling water, boil edamame for 3 minutes (frozen peas for 3-4 minutes). Use a handled strainer to remove edamame and run cooler water over until lukewarm. Set aside.
- Cook the pasta: cook pasta according to package directions. Be careful - gluten-free pasta is more likely to overcook, so keep an eye on it. After pasta is cooked, drain and rinse with warm water. Toss with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil.
- Transfer pasta back to empty pot. Add fried zucchini and any juices, herb sauce, edamame or peas, lemon zest, lemon juice, capers and mozzarella. Stir gently together, then season generously with salt and pepper.
*Obviously they don’t feel bad for my husband, because..8