Penne con pesto di zucchine

I recently found this great site with traditional Italian dishes. I love Italian food and I especially love to try regional specialties.  When I was in Italy and traveling around Europe I always made sure I tried the dish that the town was known for. So you may have guessed, I was eating plenty of meat. I did find some vegetarian and seafood dishes occasionally.

I adapted this dish from Garganelli con pesto di zucchine. I’m not sure where this dish originated from or if it is a traditional dish or a modern creation. The pasta garganelli is from the region Romagna. It is similar to shape to penne, but it has a strip indent marked by the riga-gnocchi tool and  flap from being folded. The name comes from the word garaganel, which means chicken’s oesophagus in dialet. This pasta dates back to 1725 and apparently was created by mistake by a Cardinal Cornelio Bentivoglio d’Aragona ‘s cook. Traditionally it was served in a broth, but today it can be cooked in a variety of  ingredients [1]. As for the zucchini pesto, I think this is a variance of the typically Ligurian classic Pesto alla genovese. This pesto is raw, really tasty and a great way to use your left over zucchini.

I adapted the recipe to be vegan and changed the amount of ingredients. I found with out Parmesan it needed more nuts. In the original recipe there are prawns. If you want to try this with them, just add to the sauteed garlic and pinenuts, then add pasta and  take off the heat before adding the pesto. I made Marco’s today with the prawns and he loved it. I recommend using the left overs as a pasta salad. I find pesto usually doesn’t reheat as well, especially if intend on microwaving it at work.


Penne con pesto di zucchini (vegan, gluten free, soy free)


400g penne (use gluten free penne if you prefer)

250g zucchini (1 large)

60g + 2 tablespoons of pine nuts

20g slivered almonds

20g fresh basil

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2-3 garlic cloves

1-2 tablespoons pure olive oil

sea salt & black pepper to taste


1. Take a pasta pot and boil water. Once boiled add pasta and a big pinch of salt. Then cook according to pack directions and set aside.

2. Grate the zucchini then squeeze out the water (through a strainer). DSC00922

3. Take your processor and add pine nuts, almonds, basil, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt to taste. Process till all ground together.

4. Add zucchini to processor and process till combined and creamy. Adjust seasoning if you need to.

5. Take a large pan or pot and heat olive oil. Then add garlic and extra pine nuts and saute for 2-3  mins or until browned.

6. Add pasta and heat through till warm.

7. Turn off the heat and add zucchini pesto and stir through.


[1] Great Garganelli Pasta,


14 thoughts on “Penne con pesto di zucchine

  1. one thing i didn’t mention all along is the history you have included behind most dishes you create. i really love reading them and truly impressed with your passion about it all. That’s how charming your blog is.

    • thank you i am happy u appreciate them 🙂 especially with italian food there many amazing stories behind the dishes that have been created. its only a young country but its towns and regions are very old.

      • i can’t agree more. i love reading novels on Italy as well. One of my favorite author is Nicky Pellegrino. She writes beautiful stories about Italy. Check it out if you are interested. 🙂

    • Unfortunately I can’t eat the bottle sauce because it has Parmesan in it. I have some beautiful pesto from Liguria that my Italian students father brought for us. Even in Italy they didn’t have dairy free, just some garlic free. Making it was really easy. But I dirt so many of my processor attachments to get the right one that would grind the ingredients properly. But it was work it 🙂

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