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Penne with Zucchini-Garlic Sauce

This is one of the healthiest AND yummiest things I’ve ever eaten. Really. I didn’t think I even liked zucchini (especially raw – yuk!), but this sauce just knocked me out. Did you know that zucchini is one of the lowest-calorie foods in existence? It’s also pretty cheap, as far as vegetables go.

The sauce will give you 1 serving of vegetables in a half-cup. If you find it difficult (as I do) to get enough vegetables, that’s a real help. It doesn’t seem like enough for an entire meal, but this is really filling. There’s a lot of zucchini crammed into that sauce.

Everything in this is good for you. Zucchini is low-calorie and high-fiber. Garlic supports the circulatory and immune systems. Olive oil contains monounsaturated fat, which is the best kind of fat to get in your diet. The pasta…well, depends on who you ask. The sauce is good on lots of things, though, so if you don’t like or want to eat pasta, you can add it to other foods. I’ve had it on rice, polenta, salad (cold), even steak!

This recipe was originally from a Prevention magazine, but I can’t find it on their website.

We’re going to assume you have garlic olive oil. If you don’t, I’ve listed two ways to make it at the bottom of the page.

Penne with Zucchini-Garlic Sauce
4 servings

2 lbs zucchini, washed
4 tbsp garlic olive oil
8 oz penne pasta

  1. Take half of the zucchini (or a little more than half, if you have an odd number of them), and cut into thick rounds. I usually make them about 1/2-inch thick. Now cut them in half, so you have little half-moons.
  2. Place zucchini in a medium saucepan and add just enough water to cover. Add a pinch of salt. Bring water to a boil.
  3. Lower heat to low-medium, cover the pan, and cook for 15 minutes. The level of heat will vary depending on your stove and the thickness of your pan. I usually have to adjust the heat once or twice to get it just below the point where the water will start to bubble over the sides of the pan.
  4. While the zucchini is cooking, you can prepare the penne as directed on the box or how you like it.
  5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer cooked zucchini to a blender. Add 1/2 cup of the cooking water and 1 tablespoon of the garlic olive oil. Process until very smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. The sauce is very thick and will stay warm in a glass blender carafe for the rest of the preparation.
  6. Take your remaining, uncooked zucchini and cut into 1/4-inch rounds, then cut those into quarters.
  7. Heat some or all of the remaining garlic olive oil in a large nonstick skillet. (The amount of oil depends on how large your skillet is. I usually have to do this part in two sections, because my skillet is smallish, so I’ll use half the oil for the first batch and half for the second. If you dump it all in, thinking it will last through two batches, it will saturate your first batch with oil. Bleh.)
  8. Add the zucchini pieces and saute over medium-high heat until zucchini softens and turns golden, about 8 minutes.
  9. Divide pasta into four shallow bowls or plates. Pour sauce over pasta. Dole out sauteed zucchini over sauce.

Garlic Olive oil

You can make this two ways: cooked garlic or raw garlic. I prefer raw garlic, and it’s quicker to make.

Cooked: Place 1 cup olive oil and 8 cloves garlic in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until small bubbles appear on the surface, then cook for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for two hours. Strain into a clean jar. Cover and refrigerate.

Raw: Place 1 cup olive oil in a bowl. Place a garlic clove on a cutting board. Press on clove with the side of a wide-bladed knife just until the clove cracks. Repeat for up to 8 cloves, then thinly slice each one. Add garlic to oil. Because you “cracked” the clove before slicing, it will only take 5-10 minutes for the garlic to impart its flavor to the oil. Strain oil into a clean jar. Cover and refrigerate.

If you make this, let me know how it turned out for you!

Update: this recipe has been added to the Recipe Box Swap at I Have To Say…, which is a wonderful place to find new recipes, crafting tutorials, and tips to save money and live a little greener.

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