Fusilli with Zucchini (hallo summer!)


I am a summer girl through and through. I was born in July, at the height of estate Italiana (Italian summer) and my body and brain both crave the warm and reassuring feeling of the sun on my skin, filling me with endorphins and zest for life. Now that I have made Australia my home, I find it very convenient to flee at the first signs of winter (albeit mild, always winter it is!) and frolic in the golden light of Italy at this magical time of the year. Admittedly, I’m back here for work…but summer it is and I find that work comes easier when I’m wearing shorts, thongs and a bikini top! Naturally there is a further, fundamental reason the warmer months make me happy…the seasonal produce! My heart beats faster at the sight of fruit and vegetable stalls at the local farmers market, mainly for two reasons: everything looks so exquisitely inviting and everything is so unbelievably  cheap, at least in comparison to Australian prices. And so a kilo (about 2 pounds) of freshly picked zucchini set me back 1 single Euro…


3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, skin on, bashed with the palm of your hand

1 small red onion, finely chopped

3 green zucchini, cut into cubes

1 cup of home-made tomato passata or crushed tinned tomatoes

salt to taste

3/4 packet of fusilli pasta (about 3/4 lb)

fresh basil and celery leaves

freshly ground white pepper and freshly grated pecorino for dusting on top (omit the cheese for a vegan-friendly option)


How to

1.  Start by bringing a large pot of salted water to the boil

2. Heat the oil in a medium sized pan, add the onion and garlic and cook gently for 3-4 minutes or until the onion has softened. Add the zucchini and cook for 5-10 minutes or until slightly golden and soft. Add the tomato, season with salt and cook for 5-10 minutes over medium-low heat.


3. When the water comes to a rolling boil, drop your pasta in. Stir well so it doesn’t stick to the bottom and cook until perfect al dente. Using a ladle, add a little pasta cooking water, acqua di cottura, to the sauce.


4. Using a slotted fork, lift the pasta out of the pot and drop it straight into the saucepan with the zucchini. Toss over high heat for 1 minute. Add torn basil leaves and the tender leaves of celery. Serve hot with a little freshly ground white pepper and grated pecorino, if liked.




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Silvia’s Cucina the cookbook is available in stores and online



11 Comments Add yours

  1. Summer in Italy is beautiful, how nice that you are back there. My Mother made something very similar, Dad grew zucchini in the garden and I remember a similar dish that she made. Beautiful and brought back such nice memories.

    1. Thanks for your comment, I love to know that my posts can bring back old family recipes. This is what it’s all about!

  2. A beautiful summer recipe…And my heart does the same thing at farmer’s markets…so much beauty all in one place…but can’t say I’ve ever been lucky enough to find those prices!

    1. Thanks Laney! I’m now in the midst of Sydney winter and I long for the summer months…

  3. Those photos have got my drooling, Silvia! The way that pasta glisten is a thing of beauty. And I’m sure the flavor is equally enticing.

    1. Thanks Frank!
      It’s the natural beauty of pasta, isn’t it?

  4. Joan says:

    What a lovely summer dish. Your recipe shows people how versatile zucchini is which they need to know if they grow it at home. In Virginia, where I lived for over 30 years, people would say, “Lock your cars in July or your neighbor will be throwing in all her extra zucchini.”

    1. Thanks Joan, I love your comment! Yes, zucchini are indeed easy to grow! Possibly the only green thing I don’t kill….

  5. Chris78 says:

    I am salivating….

    1. C’mon then, get cooking!

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