It’s actually Friday? With all of the holidays and school closings, I totally cannot figure out what day we are on, but hey, if the calendar says the weekend is here, who am I to complain? Especially when I finally have a Famous Fridays all ready for you and a super duper tasty and easy one at that too! Guys, this simple Tomato & Zucchini Melt pasta dish comes straight from the pages of Back Pocket Pasta: Inspired Dinners to Cook on the Fly, a truly resourceful cookbook by Colu Henry. Feeling overwhelmed with all the back-to-school, back-to-work, back-to-life craziness? You need this recipe and this book in your hands!!
Back Pocket Pasta is like having your mom or best friend in the kitchen—someone to say take that, toss in those, give it a good stir and calm down—dinner will get on the table, it’s gonna taste great and bedtime will be soon!! Yay!! The book, which is inevitably written in a down-to-earth, very approachable style, encourages you to keep a well-stocked pantry/fridge full of pasta, a hunk of parmesan, lemons, panko, canned tuna etc. so that all you need to do on those hectic nights is make a quick trip to the store for a head of kale or fresh basil or a package of sausage or crabmeat and in well under an hour, you can have a hot, fresh and inexpensive meal on the table. There are recipes for Buttery Basil Pesto with Linguine, Baked Ziti with Créme Fraiche and Spinach, BLT Pasta, Fettucine with Crab and Jalapeños…I know, you’re starving for carbs now, so read on and see how easily you can whip up this Tomato and Zucchini Melt version.
Honestly, this comes together in under 30 minutes and if you serve a salad and maybe some good, crusty bread, they’re gonna stand up and cheer. Basically all you do is sauté zucchini with garlic, tomatoes and some hot pepper flakes and the heat of those turns the cubes of mozzarella delightfully melty. Toss in some fresh basil and you’ve pretty much achieved pasta perfection with very minimal effort. Every bite is so satisfying and flavorful!
So pick up a copy of Back Pocket Pasta— I promise you, it’s a book that will have dog-eared, stained pages, ‘cause you’ll turn to it again and again—no lonely life on the book shelf for this one. And have a great and tasty weekend. It’s our middle guy’s 21st birthday on Saturday (how can that be when I am only 29? Hmmm…) but we won’t actually get to celebrate with him until next week, so I have to give a big shout out to him and cross my fingers that he’ll keep the shenanigans to a minimum!! And for all those of you dealing with Hurricane Florence, please be safe!! Thinking of you!
Back Pocket Pasta’s Tomato & Zucchini Melt-Famous Fridays
Makes 4 generous servings
Prep Time: Under 30 minutes
2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1 pound rotelli or similar sized pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 gloves garlic, thinly sliced
1-2 shakes red pepper flakes
1 large zucchini (at least 1 pound), halved lengthwise and cut into half-moons
1/2 pound cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half if very large
Handful of basil, torn
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano, plus extra for serving
8 ounces buffalo mozzarella, torn or cut into small bite-size pieces
Chopped flat-leaf parsley for serving (optional)
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the 2 tablespoons salt and return to the boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente according to the package directions.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large deep skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for a minute or two, until the garlic is pale golden—careful, you don’t want it to burn. Add the zucchini and cook for 3-4 minutes, until the zucchini is starting to get tender and lightly brown. Stir in the tomatoes and cook until they burst, another 4-5 minutes. Add the basil and stir well. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if necessary.
When the pasta is ready, add it to the skillet and toss well to coat it. Add the Pecorino and toss again. Toss in the cubes of mozzarella and stir gently so that they start to melt. Serve immediately with additional Pecorino and parsley (if using).
Note: Recipe adapted from Back Pocket Pasta by Colu Henry. I increased the pasta from 3/4 to 1 pound.