A Salute to Summer Pasta with Zucchini, Sweet Corn, and Basil


Diane Rossen Worthington

Zucchini Sweet Corn Penne

When this book came across my desk, my first thought was this was just another vegetable book with a clever title. How wrong I was. The Vegetable Butcher should be an essential part of your cookbook library. It is THE guide for selecting, preparing, slicing and dicing and of course cooking all things vegetable. You will find butchery essentials interspersed throughout the book. Dishes like corn fritters, celery root pot pie and eggplant steak with salsa verde will make you want to run to your local farmers market and start cooking.


This pasta is replete with summer’s bounty. Zucchini, corn, and basil naturally go together and prove that combining them together creates a fourth flavor. I’d keep this recipe on hand as the summer continues since you may have lots of these ingredients on hand. This bright summer pasta is flavored with fresh lemon juice and studded with pine nuts and mozzarella. Author Mangini rightly reminds us that salting the pasta water is imperative because it flavors the simple sauce. Enjoy this with a chilled Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc.


Tasty Tips

  • To shuck the corn, hold the husked corn on the vertical and slide the chef’s knife down the sides releasing the corn kernels. There are now corn tools that will strip the kernels right off the cob. You can find them at your local gourmet store.
  • Use a swivel peeler to grate the cheese into thin shards.
  • Toast the pine nuts by placing them in a nonstick skillet on medium heat and toss them until they turn light brown and smell fragran 3 to 4 minutes. Cool.
  • Chop the basil just before cooking so it stays green.
  • Look for fresh mozzarella.


Zucchini, Sweet Corn, and Basil Penne with Pine Nuts and Mozzarella


Serves 4 to 6

Fine sea salt

3/4 pound good-quality dried penne

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 small red or yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 large garlic cloves, minced

2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch by 3-inch sticks

Kernels from 2 ears fresh corn

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

2 ounces mozzarella cheese, torn into bite-size pieces

2 to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Freshly shaved Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Your best extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish

Lemon wedges, for serving (optional)


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it generously (add 1 tablespoon of salt for every 4 quarts). Cook the penne according to package instructions until just shy of aldente, about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving at least 2 cups pasta water for the sauce.
  2. Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to brown lightly, about 5.minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until it becomes fragrant, 30 seconds. Add the zucchini, turn the heat up to high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini softens, 6 to 8 minutes. (You will need to add up to 1 cup of the reserved pasta water, a little at a time, as the zucchini cooks and becomes dry and sticks to the pan.)
  3. Adjust the heat to medium and add the corn, ½ teaspoon of salt, the red pepper flakes, and the butter. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes more. Add the penne and ½ cup of the pasta water, and stir well to incorporate. Cook, stirring often, until the pasta is well coated and the sauce has thickened, about 2 minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat and add half of the basil, the pine nuts, and the mozzarella. Add the lemon juice to taste and stir well to incorporate it. Scoop the penne into individual shallow bowls, making sure to evenly distribute the zucchini and corn. Top with the remaining basil, a fresh shaving of Parmesan, and a drizzle of your best extra-virgin olive oil. Serve with lemon wedges if you wish.

Indian Summer Pasta

dt.common.streams.StreamServer (4)


  • 112 pounds assorted sausages: sweet, hot, or Turkey Sausages with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, optional

For the sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 34 pound green beans, yellow wax beans or sugar snap peas, cut into 2-inch pieces and cooked until crisp-tender
  • 212 pounds peeled and coarsely chopped ripe red and, if available, yellow tomatoes
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels (from about 2 ears)
  • 14 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound dried small pasta shells

For the garnish:

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Prepare a grill for medium-high-heat grilling. Arrange the sausages on the grill rack and grill 3 inches from the heat for about 20 minutes, rotating them on all sides until the fat runs clear. (Alternatively, place them on a microwave-safe plate and cook on high power for 4 minutes, or until the fat runs clear.) Transfer to a platter and let cool. When cool, cut into 14-inch slices.
  2. To make the sauce, in a large, deep skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute, making sure it does not burn. Add the green beans and saute for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until some of the liquid has evaporated. Use a potato masher to crush the tomatoes. Add the corn and cook for 2 minutes. Add the basil, parsley, salt and pepper and taste for seasoning. Add the sausages to the sauce and taste again for seasoning.
  3. Add salt to a large pot of boiling water. Add the pasta and cook over high heat until al dente, 7 to 10 minutes. Drain well.
  4. Place the pasta in the sauce and mix well. Transfer to a large serving bowl. Garnish with the basil and a few tablespoons of the parmesan. Pass the remaining cheese separately. Serve immediately.

Advance Preparation

The sauce can be prepared up to 8 hours ahead, covered, and refrigerated. Remove from the refrigerator 12 hour before reheating. Gently reheat the sauce.

Serves 6 to 8 people.

Light Summer Pasta with Tomatoes and Corn



  • 2 ears corn, kernels cut from cob
  • 2 pounds ripe Roma, heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped basil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 pound fresh Mozzarella cheese, diced into 1/2-inch pieces, or perline size mozzarella balls
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Salt
  • 1 pound spaghetti or linguini
  • Extra whole basil leaves, for garnish
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving


  1. To cut the corn kernels from the cob, hold the husked corn on the vertical on a cutting board and slide a chef’s knife down the sides releasing the corn kernels. Transfer the corn to a medium pasta serving bowl.
  2. Combine all remaining sauce ingredients in the bowl and mix to combine.
  3. Add salt to a large pot of boiling water. Add pasta and cook over high heat until al dente. Drain well. Arrange pasta over sauce and mix to combine. Taste for seasoning. Garnish with basil leaves and pass remaining Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.


  • Select ripe heirloom, beefsteak or Roma tomatoes
  • Use a serrated peeler to peel the tomatoes
  • Use Parmigiano-Reggiano for best flavor
  • Use a good fruity extra virgin olive oil
  • Make sure to toss the hot pasta with the cold sauce so that the flavors meld together
  • To vary this, add some olives or olive paste (tapenade) to the sauce


Pasta with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes


  • 1 1/2 pounds ripe cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh French bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound penne, fusilli or farfallini pasta
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil


  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the tomato halves in a large baking dish that can be brought to the table.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, bread crumbs, cheese, salt and pepper. Spoon evenly over the tomatoes. Spoon the olive oil evenly over the mixture.
  3. Roast the tomatoes for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the mixture is bubbly, browned and slightly thickened.
  4. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta for about 10 minutes, or until al dente. Drain well.
  5. Add the pasta to the tomato mixture in the baking dish. Add the basil and toss to combine. Sprinkle the cheese on top. Serve immediately.


  • This dish is best made just before serving.
  • For a more substantial dish, try adding cooked, shredded chicken to the pasta.
  • Serve this on its own with a mixed green salad, or serve it alongside simple grilled fish or chicken.
  • Refrigerate any leftover pasta and serve chilled the next day, with cold roast chicken, salmon or halibut.

Serves 4-6 people

Spaghetti with Cheese and Pepper (Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe)

Spaghetti with Cheese and Pepper.


  • 1 pound spaghetti, linguine, tagliolini or bucatini
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups finely grated pecorino Romano
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan


  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, 8-10 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 1/2 cups cooking water.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until hot. Add the pepper; cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add 3/4 cup pasta water. Increase the heat to medium-high; heat to a boil. Transfer pasta to skillet.
  3. Sprinkle all of the pecorino over the pasta; toss well, creating a sauce, until the sauce clings to the pasta, about 2 minutes, adding more pasta water as needed. Arrange on serving plates; sprinkle with the Parmesan.

Serves 4 people as a main course, 6 people as a first course.

Autumn Noodles and Rice



  • ¼ cup slivered almonds
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1¼ cups long-grain white rice
  • 1¼ cups fine egg noodles
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium leek, finely chopped
  • 1 medium diced yellow or red bell pepper, cut into ½-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley


  1. Preheat oven to 3500F. Toast almonds in oven for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Reserve.
  2. In a medium saucepan heat 2 tablespoons of the oil on medium heat. Saute the rice and egg noodles for about 3 minutes or until evenly coated and very lightly browned. Add the broth, salt and pepper and increase heat to medium-high heat. Stir with a fork. Lower heat, cover, and simmer 15-18 minutes, or until cooked through and the liquid has evaporated.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet heat the butter and remaining oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and saute, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes or until soft. Add peppers and continue sauteing for about 3-4 minutes or until cooked but slightly crisp.
  4. When rice and noodles are cooked, add vegetables, almonds, and parsley. Toss with a fork, taste for seasoning, and serve immediately.

Advance Preparation

This may be prepared up to 2 hours ahead and kept at room temperature. Reheat carefully in top part of double boiler above hot water over medium heat for 10 minutes.


  • To make this a vegetarian main course add sautéed tofu pieces and use vegetable stock.
  • Make this into a cold salad the next day by adding some vinaigrette to the leftover portion. Cold shrimp or chicken pieces would be a nice addition.
  • Try Autumn Noodles and Rice with grilled or roasted lamb, chicken, beef or fish.

Serves 6 people.

Veal Ragu on Papparadelle



  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ pound pancetta, thickly sliced and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 2 pounds veal shoulder, cut into ½-inch dice
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 (28 ) ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • rosemary leaf
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Balsamic Syrup
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound papparadelle
  • Freshly grated Parmesan or Pecornio Romano cheese


  1. In a large, heavy Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrots, onion, celery and red pepper and cook until softened, about 10 to12 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another minute. Add salt and pepper. Remove to a side bowl and reserve.
  2. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the Dutch oven and increase the heat to medium-high. Add the pancetta pieces and brown for about 3 minutes. Add the veal pieces and brown the meat evenly by turning it, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the wine and deglaze the bottom of the pan by scraping up any browned bits. Add the reserved cooked vegetables, tomatoes, broth, rosemary and red pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 1¼ hours or until the meat is very tender. Add the Balsamic Syrup and taste for seasoning.
  4. Cook the papparaelle according to the directions on the package. Drain the papparadelle, reserving ½ cup of the pasta liquid. Place the pasta in a large deep skillet. Add half of the meat sauce and some of the pasta liquid and toss with tongs to evenly coat. Cook another minute. Transfer the pasta to a serving bowl and then spoon on the remaining sauce. Grate the cheese on top and serve.

Advance Preparation

The sauce may be made 3 days ahead, covered and refrigerated. Reheat gently. The sauce can also be frozen for up to 2 months.

Serves 4 to 6 people.

Pan-fried Noodles with Vegetables



  • 1/2 cup dried shiitake mushrooms
  • One 6-ounce package chuka soba noodles
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry wine
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
  • Pinch of hot red pepper flakes
  • 4 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 6 scallions, both white and green parts, finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 pound sugar snap peas, trimmed
  • 6 fresh white mushrooms, brushed clean and sliced
  • 2 cups cooked and cubed chicken, beef or lamb


  1. Pour boiling water over the shiitake mushrooms in a bowl and let them soften for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling water, cook the noodles for 3 to 4 minutes, or until al dente. (Do not overcook the noodles, because they are going to be cooked again.) Drain the noodles well and spread them out on a kitchen towel to dry slightly.
  3. To make the sauce, in a small mixing bowl, combine the ingredients and whisk to blend, making sure that the cornstarch is dissolved. Drain the shiitake mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid. Strain the soaking liquid through cheesecloth and add 1/2 cup to the sauce. Trim the stems of the shiitakes and set aside.
  4. In a wok or large, nonstick skillet over high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the peanut oil. Add the noodles and toss using 2 large forks or spoons until crisp and golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the noodles to a bowl.
  5. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons peanut oil in the wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the scallions, ginger and garlic, and quickly stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the carrots, peas and fresh mushrooms, and continue to stir-fry, stirring and tossing constantly, until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 2 to 3 minutes longer.
  6. Add the shiitakes and the sauce to the vegetables. Raise the heat to high. Add the meat and stir until the meat is heated throughout and the sauce is slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
  7. Just before serving, stir the noodles into the stir-fry just to heat them through. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl and serve immediately.

Serves 4 people

Pasta with Asparagus, Ricotta, and Prosciutto



  • Water
  • Salt
  • 1 pound orecchiette, penne, fusilli or bow-tie pasta


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
  • 1⁄2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 ounces prosciutto, chopped
  • 12 teardrop tomatoes, halved, optional
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Grated parmesan cheese, for serving


  1. In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat. Add the asparagus and sauté, tossing with tongs, for about 3 minutes or until slightly softened.
  2. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook only a minute, making sure the garlic does not burn.
  3. Lower the heat and add the stock, ricotta, lemon zest, prosciutto and tomatoes (if using), and mix to combine completely. Season with salt and pepper. Taste for seasoning.
  4. Bring a large pot of salted boiling water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente.
  5. When the pasta is cooked, drain, saving a half of a cup of cooking water for later. Add the pasta to the ricotta mixture. If it is too dry, add a bit of the saved cooking water. Mix. Cook for a minute on low heat.
  6. Serve in shallow pasta bowls with parmesan cheese, if desired.


  • Select young pencil-thin asparagus wit bright green stalks and tight tips. This way, you won’t have to bother peeling each stalk. This really cuts down on your preparation time. Just cut or snap off the tough bottoms and then cut the stalks into 2-inch pieces, making sure to keep the whole tip as one piece.
  • When making pasta, add a bit of the pasta cooking water to the sauce to control the thickness.
  • Also, when cooking pasta, combine the cooked, drained pasta and the sauce over heat for a minute to marry the flavors. It allows all of the ingredients to blend together.

Serves 4-6 people.

Three-Cheese Macaroni with Leeks, Prosciutto, and Peas



  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 leeks, light green and white parts, cleaned, finely chopped
  • 1/4  teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 pound dried elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup frozen baby peas
  • 1/4 pound sliced prosciutto, finely chopped


  • 3 tablespoons each: unsalted butter, flour
  • 3 cups milk, warmed
  • 2 cups shredded each: Pepper Jack cheese, sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon each: salt, white pepper


  • 1/2 cup panko or other bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tiny pieces


  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat oil in large non-aluminum skillet on medium-high heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring often, until caramelized, about 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Transfer to a large bowl. Meanwhile, heat a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Stir in the macaroni; cook until slightly soft to the bite, 7 minutes. Drain. Place in bowl with leeks; toss. Add peas and prosciutto; toss.
  3. For sauce, melt the 3 tablespoons butter in the large skillet over medium-low heat. Sprinkle the flour over the butter; whisk to mix well. Cook, stirring, until the flour is absorbed and the mixture is bubbling, about 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in the milk gradually; heat to a simmer over medium heat. Cook until the white sauce is smooth and thickened, 3-4 minutes. Add the cheeses. Remove from the heat; whisk constantly until the cheese is completely melted. Stir in the mustard, salt and pepper. Pour over the macaroni leek mixture; mix to combine.
  5. Place a greased 8-inch-square baking pan on a baking sheet. Transfer the macaroni mixture to the pan. For the topping, combine the breadcrumbs and Parmesan in a small bowl.
  6. Sprinkle evenly over the macaroni. Dot with the butter; bake uncovered, until the top browns and begins to form a crust, 35-40 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.


  • Use Italian penne or fusilli instead of elbow macaroni
  • Substitute blue cheese for the Pepper Jack cheese
  • Substitute mortadella or speck for the prosciutto

Advance Preparation

This may be made up to two days ahead, covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before reheating in a 350-degree  oven for 20 minutes. You may need to cover with foil so it does not burn.

Serves 6 people.