real life test kitchen: spicy pesto with zucchini

One of my favorite pasta dishes is one I learned to make while traveling in Sicily — pasta with zucchini and pistachios. It is a really simple dish that involves a lot of butter and crumbled pistachios being sprinkled on top of the dish. I spotted this recipe in Rachael Ray magazine, and it sounded similar, but kicked up a notch. Essentially while the pasta is cooking, you make a pesto of cheese, parsley, mint, chile peppers, garlic, pistachios and lime. I didn’t happen to have a fresh lime in the house when I made it, and used bottled instead. I imagine it’d be even better with some fresh zest! My husband said he preferred this version to my simple one, but it does require more work and planning. Here’s my take on spicy pesto with zuccinhi below, and click through to to see the original.

What you need:
1 pound of pasta — we used penne
1 1/2 cups grated parmigiano-reggiano
1 cup packed flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup packed fresh mint leaves
2 jalapeno chile peppers, seeded
2 cloves garlic, pasted
3 – 4 tablespoons pistachios, toasted
1 tablespoon of lime juice + zest from one lime
1/3 cup EVOO
2 tablespoons butter
2 small or 1 medium zucchini, halved, seeded and sliced into half-moons

1. Cook pasta with salted water until al dente, reserving 1 cup of cooking water.
2. While the pasta is cooking, whiz the cheese, parsley, mint, chiles, garlic, pistachios, lime zest and lime juice in a food processor. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stream in about 5 tbsp olive oil until nice pesto is formed.
3. In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp of oil over medium-high heat. Add the butter and heat until bubbling. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring, until it starts to brown, about 10 minutes; season with salt and pepper.
4. Add the pesto to the pasta and toss, stirring in reserved pasta cooking water as needed. Stir in half of the zucchini. Serve the pasta in shallow bowls and top with the remaining zucchini.

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