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Carbonara with Mint and Courgette recipe

Carbonara with Mint and Courgette recipe

  • Recipes
  • Ingredients
  • Pasta
  • Italian pasta
  • Carbonara

A delicious Italian pasta that's quick to throw together. It's the classic carbonara with pancetta in a cheesy sauce, but with the addition of courgettes and mint.

1 person made this

IngredientsServes: 4

  • 450g penne pasta
  • 1 egg
  • 100ml double cream
  • 12 rashers pancetta or streaky bacon, chopped
  • 3 courgettes
  • 2 handfuls freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 sprigs mint leaves, picked and finely sliced

MethodPrep:10min ›Cook:15min ›Ready in:25min

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, add the penne and cook according to the packet instructions.
  2. Beat the egg in a bowl with the sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, freshly grated Parmesan and double cream.
  3. Put pancetta in a frying pan with a splash of olive oil and cook until golden and crispy.
  4. Take a peeler and slice long strips off skin of the courgettes. save the skins and throw out the cores. Add the courgette skins in with the pancetta at the last minute and give them a stir.
  5. Drain the pasta but save some pasta water. Add the pasta to pancetta and stir in most of the finely sliced mint.
  6. Take the frying pan from the heat and wait for the sizzling sound to stop (30 seconds). Then add the egg and cream mix and stir it around. The heat of the pasta will cook the egg mix without scrambling it.
  7. Toss together and loosen with a little of the reserved cooking water.
  8. Season with salt and pepper, some fresh Parmesan and a couple of mint leaves and serve.

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Squash up! 17 delicious ways with courgettes, from creamy carbonara to spicy dal

Two of a kind . Yotam Ottolenghi’s courgette pappardelle with feta and lemon uses the vegetable in a couple of ways. Photograph: Louise Hagger/The Guardian. Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay, assisted by Agathe Gits

Two of a kind . Yotam Ottolenghi’s courgette pappardelle with feta and lemon uses the vegetable in a couple of ways. Photograph: Louise Hagger/The Guardian. Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay, assisted by Agathe Gits

Make the most of the summer glut with these imaginative, versatile recipes. There is even a courgette-based martini

Last modified on Wed 30 Sep 2020 13.54 BST

W hen home-growers speak of a glut of vegetables, it is usually with a tinge of pride, rather than a sense of burden. It means eating green beans twice in a week or giving away a bag of tomatoes. When it comes to courgettes, however, the word glut can take on a dimension of horror.

I speak from experience. At the end of July, I had harvested fewer than half a dozen courgettes from my tiny plot, each no bigger than a gloved thumb, and was ready to count the crop a failure. But, by mid-August, I was picking four or five courgettes a day just to keep on top of things – anything I missed soon grew to such monstrous proportions that it couldn’t even be given away. Everyone likes baby courgettes. No one wants a marrow the size of a baby. For me, courgettes present more than a culinary quandary. They are a storage problem.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. I have learned that, with a positive outlook and a proper strategy, such a glut can be managed. Courgettes may be bland, but that also means they are versatile. Even large marrows are salvageable. Here are 17 delicious ways to take advantage of what we will henceforth call a bounty.

Enliven your eggs . courgette carbonara. Photograph: Jelena990/Getty Images/iStockphoto

There is no getting around the fact that, overall, smaller courgettes are preferable. Larger ones have their uses, but when you are using them raw you want, if not a baby courgette, something still in the flush of adolescence. Yotam Ottolenghi’s courgette pappardelle with feta and lemon uses two types of courgette: largish ones, chopped up, for the sauce, and a pair of younger models – ideally one green, one yellow – sliced into ribbons and boiled with the pasta, but only for the last few seconds.

Jamie Oliver’s courgette carbonara is another useful pasta dish, adding a fresh vegetable note to what is otherwise bacon and eggs on penne. Here, the courgette is diced and fried with the pancetta until golden. Rachel Roddy deploys grated courgette (again, smaller is better) for her courgette, basil and almond pesto recipe, which comes with an unforgettable tip: add a small amount of starchy cooking water, made starchier still by boiling a small potato along with the pasta.

Green living . Rachel Roddy’s linguine with courgette, basil and almond pesto. Photograph: Ola O Smit/The Guardian. Food styling: Sam Dixon. Prop styling: Anna Wilkins

Courgette carpaccio is a raw and very simple salad of radish, edamame beans and spiralised courgette, served with a lime and sesame dressing. It takes no time to prepare, as long as you don’t count the hour you spend searching the cupboards for your spiraliser. If you haven’t got a spiraliser, well done for getting through Christmas 2014 without being given one. Even without this miracle device, you could ribbonise your courgettes with a peeler and achieve a satisfactory result.

“Low effort, high flavour” is how Nigel Slater characterises his courgettes with feta and lemon – and it is hard to think of a more potent combination. Before being baked, the courgettes are halved lengthways and then sliced at half-centimetre intervals, but not quite all the way through, so they hold their shape in the oven. A chopstick laid either side of the courgette, he says, will stop you cutting right down to the chopping board.

Glut-busting Gujarati fare . Meera Sodha’s courgette and chickpea dal. Photograph: Louise Hagger/The Guardian. Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay

Meera Sodha’s courgette and chickpea dal is another easy, flavoursome, glut-busting meal. It is a Gujarati dish, with courgettes standing in for the more traditional bottle gourd.

Perfectly pickled . preserved courgettes. Photograph: rudisill/Getty Images

Griddling is a standard treatment for courgettes – but when the griddled slices are laid on ready-made puff pastry with tahini cream, feta and parmesan, suddenly you have dinner instead of a side dish, as demonstrated by Thomasina Miers’ grilled courgette and mint tart.

Pickling is another option, with the courgettes treated more or less as you would cucumbers. The Greedy Gourmet’s courgette pickle is a solid introduction to the art and an excellent way to push your courgette glut – sorry, bounty – four weeks into the future.

For larger courgettes, baking is probably the most appropriate treatment. Anna Jones’ crispy courgette and ricotta bake is a sort of substitute for aubergine parmigiana: charred courgette slices layered with ricotta, onion and mozzarella, and topped with breadcrumbs. Delia Smith’s courgette gratin will also help deal with a surfeit of tomatoes. She recommends first salting and draining the slice courgettes in a colander, if you have the time.

There is no hard and fast rule about when a courgette becomes a marrow, but a courgette on the brink is probably best suited to stuffing as you would a marrow. Felicity Cloake offers up a classic version – with a rice, onion and tomato filling. The courgette flesh that gets scooped out of the middle is also part of the stuffing, which is not something you would do with a fully mature marrow, the centre of which holds an unappetising core of watery pulp and seeds. In that case, scoop it, toss it and proceed.

Charred to beat . Anna Jones’ crispy courgette and ricotta bake. Photograph: Matt Russell/The Guardian. Food and prop styling: Emily Ezekiel. Food assistant: Kitty Coles

Grated courgette can also be used to make bread, although what is often called “courgette bread” is usually more of a loaf cake such as this one. That said, you can make proper bread with courgettes, as in this Community Farm recipe, which also adds a bit of hard cheese to the dough. The grated flesh needs to be salted and left to drain to get rid of some of the moisture.

Filling meal . Felicity Cloake’s stuffed courgettes. Photograph: Felicity Cloake/The Guardian

Courgettes form a dependable base for soup, especially when their blandness is contrasted with some kind of cheese. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s soup recipe uses goat’s cheese and basil, while this BBC Good Food recipe opts for cheddar and potato. Fearnley-Whittingstall insists on small, “very firm” courgettes, but I am here to tell you that most soup recipes will also work with spongy, oversized examples. Last week, I made almost five litres of soup from a single courgette – admittedly, one the size of a scuba tank. If your courgette has reached such proportions, just make sure you scrape out the seedy middle before you chop it up.

Grate bakes . a courgette loaf cake. Photograph: Azurita/Getty Images/iStockphoto

In terms of sheer innovation, I have to applaud this odd, low-carb version of toad-in-the-hole: “baked zucchini popeye eggs”. It is an egg cracked into a chunky marrow slice, the middle of which has been cut out using the rim of a glass. Then it is topped with cheese and shoved under the grill. I have not yet attempted it, but this is my backup plan for my last baby-sized marrow, if I can’t find a way to give it up for adoption.

Tasty hot or cold . Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s courgette and goat’s cheese soup. Photograph: Colin Campbell

Finally, a very strange alcoholic drink: the courgette martini. “Unlikely bedfellows” is the phrase used to describe an ingredient list comprising courgette, gin and vermouth, but the colour of the final product is appealing. And, frankly, how good does it have to be?

  • 4 small or 3 medium zucchinis
  • 3 to 4 sprigs of mint
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste

Clean zucchinis and pat them dry. Trim and slice thinly and evenly as possible (a mandoline is handy here, but a sharp knife and a steady hand work just as well). Layer zucchini slices onto a serving platter.

Take mint leaves off their stems and stack in a layer. Roll the leaves lengthwise into a cigarette shape and cut into thin ribbons. Set aside.

Use a microplate or zester to zest the lemon over the zucchini. Once you have most of the zest,​ cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice over the zucchini.

Drizzle zucchini with olive oil and sprinkle with salt to taste. Top the entire salad with the mint.

Zucchini carbonara to welcome June

I remember when these were the days before three long months of summer holidays. Once school was over, I would find myself all alone in the countryside. There weren’t many occasions to meet friends over the summer holidays, and I would be looking forward to the seaside holidays with my cousin, and September when I was thrilled to be back to school.

I was alone, but I wasn’t lonely.

There were books, and magazines, and Disney comics, handwritten letters and postcards, country rides with my bike, homemade cakes, blackberry hunting sessions, afternoons spent watching old movies and eating gelato. I felt empowered, connected. I felt like I had the chance to grow and to explore my inner world.

This is the same feeling I had the other day while I was walking along my country road with Livia. We have so much to do this summer, a book to work on, a podcast, a weekly newsletter… but I have the feeling that this will be a season of big changes. I feel connected and empowered, thanks to books, podcasts and Social Media. I feel like I will have once again the chance to grow, and explore. Tommaso and I have so many projects brewing on the stove, hopefully, this will be the season to turn them into reality.

And now, as always, a list of things I’m cooking, listening to, watching, and reading, as this is what is keeping me inspired, and connected, from our last newsletter. Read it to discover also 10 recipes to cook this month.

What I’m cooking.

Zucchini and eggs, mainly. Zucchini are the first summer vegetable I reintroduce to my cooking repertoire as soon as the good season kicks in. So I’m making pasta with zucchini, sautéed zucchini as a side dish, zucchini and tuna salads, frittata with zucchini and zucchini carbonara (for this, I’m sharing a recipe below!).

Fresh eggs are my go-to ingredient when I’m late and I have to figure out lunch (more often than you can imagine). As our eggs are super fresh and come from our happy chickens, we have them as a meal at least twice a week. Can you share your favourite recipe with eggs? I want to try something new next time!

What I’m reading.

This has been a good month. I left my phone aside more often and found pockets of time to read. First I read from cover to cover in a weekend L’invenzione della felicità, written by my friend Benedetta Gargano, a novel inspired by her relationship with her nonna, and the time her grandma spent with her, when Benedetta adopted her not to let her spend the last years of her long, exciting life in a nursing home. Benedetta gave her 97-year-old grandma the chance to learn, be surprised, and have fun when she thought her life was almost over, and she was gifted in return with the biggest, purest love. I laughed and cried, and then I run to hug my grandma once more.

The second book has been a revelation. Breath, The New Science of a Lost Art, by James Nestor. This book is a fascinating exploration of the art of breathing, with a memoir approach, that makes everything more accessible, interesting and relatable. From a Paris catacomb to a jogging experience underneath the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the author collects all the past and present knowledge about breathing. I found myself focusing on my breath more than I have ever done – I have a past with adenoids, so I’ve been one of those children always breathing with their mouths open! It is such a transformative book.

What I’m watching.

Another month of crime series has passed. Growing old, I realize I can only unwind watching crime series, and food-related docu-series. I suffer watching dramas – Tommaso made me cry all the tears watching Clouds, on Disney+, inspired to the true story of Zach Sobiech. On a side note, I just started watching High on the Hog on Netflix, and I’m hooked.

Food, community, culture, resiliency. Based on Jessica B. Harris’ award-winning book, High On The Hog traces the moving story of a people’s survival and triumph via the food that has knit generations together and helped define the American kitchen. From Gumbo to fried chicken, our culinary journey stretches from Africa to enslavement, to the Harlem Renaissance, up to our present-day we celebrate the courage, artistry, and resourcefulness of the African American people. This is not just an African American story it’s an American story. A feast for all the senses.

What I’m listening to.

Keep calm and cook on.

I resumed walking in the early mornings with Livia snuggled in her stroller, so my podcast consumption went up again. This month I’m sharing two podcasts I’m really enjoying, plus a bonus. The first one is Keep calm and cook on, by Julia Turshen. I’ve been listening to Julia’s podcast for years now, but season 5 is just a treat, with nine episodes of a virtual book tour. In each episode, Julia is interviewed by a special guest about her newest cookbook, Simply Julia, and you learn so much about body positivity and acceptance, comfort food, home cooking, the process behind writing a cookbook, and much more.

I really enjoyed the conversation with @doriegreenspan, and one of the questions that came at the end of that episode. Who are the four cookbook authors – dead or alive – you would love to cook for and have you join your table? This is such a good question, I’m still thinking about it. There would be Laurie Colwin for sure, but I might come with an answer soon. What about you?

A slice of cheese with Peter’s Yard

The second podcast is A slice of Cheese with Peter’s Yard, hosted by Jenny Linford, a talented food writer and the kindest person. Jenny talks to cheesemakers around the world, exploring the fascinating world of cheese, from cheddar to brie, paneer and goat cheese. If you’re into Italian cheese, don’t miss the episode on Parmigiano Reggiano, where Jenny talks with Rachel Roddie, and the one on mozzarella, with Katie Quinn and Domenica Marchetti.

I mentioned also a bonus episode. In one of the past newsletters, I mentioned how I truly appreciated Alissa Timoshkina’s podcast, Motherfood. Well, I had the pleasure to talk to her, as I’m her latest guest in her sixth episode of the third series. So if you are curious about my experience with pregnancy and motherhood, from a food perspective, go have a listen! I’m so happy, and excited, and proud!

What I’m dreaming.

HOLIDAYS! Yes, I’m dreaming about the upcoming holidays, the first after two years, the first we’ll have with Livia. We’ll drive South to visit Tommaso’s family in Salento, Puglia. It will be a long drive, so we’ll have to make it over two days. On our journey, we’ll make a quick stop in Montegrosso, as I desperately want to eat again at @pietrozito_antichisapori, where I had the best meals of my life. It has been a farm-to-table restaurant well before it became fashionable, and Pietro Zito’s food is the most authentic, honest, vibrant food I have ever had. Lots of superlatives, I know, but I can barely contain my excitement.


First you need to grate the courgettes coarsely – a food processor is good for this – and put them into a colander.

Then sprinkle them with 2 level teaspoons of salt to draw out some of their excess moisture and leave them to drain for about an hour, with a plate or bowl underneath to catch the juices.

Meanwhile, scrub the potatoes and place them in a very large saucepan, with a little salt. Pour just enough boiling water over them to cover them, then simmer gently with a lid on for 8 minutes to parboil them. After that, drain them and leave them aside until they’re cool enough to handle. Then peel them and, using the coarse side of a grater, grate them into a large bowl and season with more salt and some freshly milled black pepper.

When the hour is up, rinse the courgettes under cold, running water, squeeze out as much moisture as possible with your hands, then spread them out on a clean tea cloth and roll it up to wring out every last drop – this is very important, so the cakes are not wet. Now, add the courgettes to the grated potatoes, along with the spring onions, mint, feta and beaten eggs and, using two forks, lightly toss it all together. Next, divide the mixture into 8 and shape into rounds about ½ inch (1 cm) thick, pressing them firmly together to form little cakes. They don’t have to be very neat – it’s nice to have a few jagged edges. Then lightly dust the cakes with the flour.

To cook them, first pre-heat the oven to gas mark 7, 425°F (220°C) and also pre-heat the baking trays.

Meanwhile, melt the butter and oil in a small saucepan, then brush the cakes on both sides with it. When the oven is up to heat, place the cakes on the trays, returning one to the top shelf and the other to the middle shelf for 15 minutes. After that, carefully turn the cakes over, using a palette knife and a fork, swap the positions of the trays in the oven and cook them for a further 10-15 minutes.


Like most authentic Italian recipes, this requires just a handful of ingredients. Here are a few helpful tips.

Mint: If you don't have access to fresh mint from the garden, you can buy a small quantity at most grocery stores. (It's usually sold in a flat, plastic box next to the other herbs.)

Mint Substitute: If you're not a fan of mint, no worries. You can substitute fresh basil. You need something with pleasantly potent flavor.

Vinegar: We always make this with red wine vinegar. It provides a nice zing. But, if you need a substitute, try balsamic vinegar.

Oil: You need something with a high heat point for frying, so olive oil is not a good option. I use canola oil, and Mom uses corn oil. You could use avocado oil or vegetable oil, instead.

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Pasta With Zucchini and Mint

This minty Roman-style zucchini is wonderful with pasta or served on its own.


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-1/2 pounds zucchini, scrubbed and sliced very thin
  • Salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • ¾ pound pasta, such as farfalle or fusilli
  • Grated ricotta salata or Pecorino for serving (optional)
Nutritional analysis per serving (4 servings)


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Meanwhile, heat the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy nonstick skillet, and add the zucchini. Cook, stirring or shaking the pan, until the zucchini is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add the sugar, and stir in the vinegar, lemon zest and mint. Remove from the heat, and keep warm while you cook the pasta.
  2. When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the pasta. Cook al dente, following the timing instructions on the package. Add 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water to the zucchini, then drain the pasta and toss with the zucchini. Serve, passing the cheese at the table for sprinkling.

Advance preparation: Although this dish is best if served immediately, the zucchini could be cooked a few hours ahead. But don’t add the vinegar or the mint until you thoroughly reheat it.

Zucchini and mushroom carbonara with fresh basil

I had one of those days yesterday. You know the kind. I had a crap-ton (that’s an actual measurement) of stuff on my to-do list and then I woke up to two sick kids and a sick husband. And just like that, my busy day became insane. So insane in fact that I landed up doing exactly nothing. Because between taking them all to the doctor and catching up on my admin, I was left with exactly 13 minutes in the afternoon and you know what I chose to do? Play Two Dots on my phone whilst lying on my bed. I’m so efficient you guys.

So when dinner time came around, I knew I wanted something quick, something easy and something filled with vegetables to get my family back up to strength. Let’s face it, that’s not a very hard thing to accomplish, especially considering how vegetables have been the star of most of our meals for the last couple of months. I find the times I cook meat, it’s for a special meal or something super quick like a few strips of bacon in a pan to crisp up for a salad or quick pasta or chicken breasts, bashed until they’re nice and thin and quickly grilled to be served with salad.

I just don’t have that big of an appetite for meat on a daily basis anymore. Let’s get real though, I’m not about to turn vegetarian but I have fallen more and more in love with vegetables over the last year. So whipping up a tasty dish revolving around vegetables is a pretty easy task for me lately.

I decided to quickly fry some sliced mushrooms and zucchini with garlic before adding some eggs mixed with cream, a squeeze of lemon juice and finishing it off with a generous grind of white pepper for a quick and easy carbonara of sorts. I could’ve actually eaten it just like that it was so bloody delicious but I tipped in some al dente penne and finished it off with a little of the pasta’s cooking water to add extra creaminess. A little fresh basil to top and hey presto. Simple, delicious, nutritious(-ish) pasta in less than 20 minutes. Who’s winning now?

  • 350 g (12 oz) of spaghetti
  • 1 little onion
  • 2 zucchini
  • 2 carrots
  • 4 eggs
  • 100 g (3,50 oz) of grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • ground black pepper

Cut vegetables into strips (1). In a large pan sauté the onion for 2 minutes then add carrots and zucchini (2). Cook the vegetables for about 10/15 minutes. Every so often stir and taste the vegetables, adding salt to taste. They should remain fairly crisp and not too smashed, like a formless mush of vegetables. Stop the heat and leave aside. Meanwhile in a bowl break the eggs and add the grated Pecorino Romano (3).

Whisk with a fork until the ingredients become creamy (4). Now leave the cream aside while cooking spaghetti in boiling salted water, respecting the cooking times specified on the package (5). In addition to spaghetti vegetable carbonara is excellent even with bucatini or linguine. Drain when they are al denteand add them to the vegetables (6). Cook and stir frequentely for 1 minute, over high heat.

Turn off the heat then add the cream of eggs and cheese (7) and begin to stir and mix quickly (8). Be careful: the heat under the pan must be turned off, otherwise the eggs will be overcooked and scrambled. Place Vegetarian Carbonara in a plate then add ground black pepper and grated pecorino cheese to taste (9). Serve immediately.

Vegetarian Pasta Carbonara

When you travel to Rome, eating a traditional Carbonara is an absolute must. In fact, this classical dish from central Italy is one of the most rich and mouth-watering pasta recipes you might ever taste. The recipe is so famous that you can now count endless variations of it all around the world. No one knows who actually invented this amazing combination of flavors, what is certain is just the origin of the name: carbonara simply means coal worker’s style.

The original version of this dish uses just a handful of high-quality ingredients, and its lovely simplicity is hard to match. The downside however, is that traditional Carbonara calls for a good amount of guanciale, an Italian cured meat similar to bacon but way fattier. Therefore, it’s not something you should eat on a daily basis.

The good news is that you can use zucchini and cherry tomatoes in place of guanciale. You will get a dish that is just as tasty and satisfactory to eat but definitely healthier and more suited for your well-being. Moreover, this vegetarian version is also a nice variation for whoever follows a meatless diet.

Zucchini and cherry tomatoes apart, the rest of the ingredients and the cooking process are exactly the same as the traditional version of the dish. I hope you will like it as much as I do!

The only important thing in the preparation of this dish is that when the pasta is ready to drain, you should work as quickly as possible. The residual heat from the pasta in fact, should be enough to finish the cooking of the eggs without the need of putting it back on the stove. The final result will be a silky, smooth and bright yellow sauce.

On the other end, if your pan is too hot or you forget to turn off the heat before adding the yolks, you’ll end up with scrambled eggs’ pasta, that maybe is just as good, but it’s definitely not Carbonara.

Watch the video: Carbonara pasta with zucchini (November 2021).