Pasta with Mashed Zucchini Sauce

I love zucchini; it is absolutely one of my favorite vegetables! And in summer, there is always more than enough zucchini to go around. I love it on the grill, breaded and fried, turned into zucchini casserole, baked into bread, made into zucchini fritters… you name it, I like it. But in all my years I had never had it as a sauce.

My mom was the first to taste this when her Italian neighbor, Daniela, made it for dinner one night (and I mean she was actually born in Italy… unlike me who is only of Italian descent). My mom liked it so much she asked for the recipe.  My mom made it for us; I liked it so much, I asked for the recipe.  That was a few years ago and now Daniela has been kind enough to let me share her amazing zucchini sauce with you. Thank you Daniela!

This dish makes a cozy meal in winter but it is also a unique and delicious way to enjoy all of that lovely summer zucchini.  A major bonus, it is SO easy to make.  All it takes is a little bit of chopping then you basically set it on the stove and forget about it.  And, you can absolutely make this sauce ahead of time.  Just reheat it before serving and you are good to go. Who doesn’t love a super easy, delicious, healthy meal?  Enjoy!

Pasta with Mashed Zucchini Sauce

Serves 4

3 T Olive Oil
1 small Onion, chopped
4 cloves Garlic, roughly chopped
3 medium to large Zucchini, sliced with skins left on
¼ c Water
1 Pepperoncini or other hot pepper, left whole tied up in cheese cloth*
3 Bay Leaves
Salt & Pepper

½ c Parmigiano-Reggiano (for serving)

Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.
Add onions to the pan and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
Sauté the onions for about 5-7minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add garlic and continue to sauté for another 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
Turn up the heat and add all remaining ingredients (except the cheese) and a little more salt and pepper; bring to a boil.

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Reduce to a simmer and put on the lid
“Cook forever” but for at least 1 hour.
Remove bay leaves and pepperoncini. Use a potato masher to mash all remaining ingredients together and create the sauce.

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You can continue to simmer after everything is mashed together, but it is not necessary. If you are going to continue to simmer, put the bay leaves and pepper back in while simmering but be sure to remove them before serving.

Serve over ½ lb of pasta (recommend Penne) with tons of freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top.


* Tip- I tie up the pepper in cheese cloth in case the pepper should break.  The whole pepper will flavor the sauce without making it too spicy.  I had a pepper break on me one time and I had to throw the whole batch away because our mouths were on fire.  So sad.

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