July 31, 2021
Zucchini, corn, and basil are quite a trio — one that I turn to over and over again. Here, they come together in a bright summer pasta showered with lemon juice and studded with pine nuts and mozzarella. I am sure you will want to enjoy it all season long.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it generously (add 1 tablespoon of salt for every 4 quarts). Cook the penne according to package instructions until just shy of al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving at least 2 cups pasta water for the sauce.
Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to brown lightly, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until it becomes fragrant, 30 seconds. Add the zucchini, turn the heat up to high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini softens, 6 to 8 minutes. (You will need to add up to 1 cup of the reserved pasta water, a little at a time, as the zucchini cooks and becomes dry and sticks to the pan.) Adjust the heat to medium and add the corn, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, red pepper flakes, and butter. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes more. Add the penne and 1/2 cup of the pasta water and stir well to incorporate. Cook, stirring often, until the pasta is well coated and the sauce has thickened, about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and add half of the basil, the pine nuts, and the mozzarella. Add the lemon juice to taste and stir well to incorporate.
Scoop the penne into individual shallow bowls, making sure to evenly distribute the zucchini and corn. Top with the remaining basil, a fresh shaving of parmesan, and a drizzle of your best extra-virgin olive oil. Serve with lemon wedges, if you wish.