Alfredo sauce and prosciutto make this rich dish sing
It’s still zucchini season in our part of the world, but cooler weather is strolling in. So we’re starting to enjoy richer dishes – like this one. It’s an all-time favorite of ours.
We particularly like to share this pasta dish with friends. Few can resist its creamy, cheesy goodness.
So don’t be surprised if your guests ask for the recipe. You have our permission to share it with them.
Recipe: Pasta with Zucchini and Mushrooms
This dish is essentially Fettuccine Alfredo with the addition of zucchini, mushrooms, and prosciutto.
You can make this recipe with dried pasta, but we think it tastes particularly succulent with fresh pasta. You’ll need to use about one batch of our Homemade Pasta or about a pound of store-bought fresh or dried pasta (exact quantity not critical).
We found this recipe years ago in the late (and much lamented) Gourmet magazine. It dates from the late 1970s or early 1980s. The inclusion of prosciutto is our idea; leave it out if the idea doesn’t appeal to you.
You can serve this dish as either a starter or a main (we usually opt to use it as the main course).
This dish takes about 10 to 15 minutes to make (assuming you have fresh pasta on hand, or are using dried pasta).
This recipe serves 4 as a main course (you’ll probably even have a bit left over) or twice that number as a first course.
Leftovers keep for a day or two if refrigerated in an airtight container.
- ½ pound mushrooms (cremini and/or Portobello)
- 1¼ pounds zucchini
- 4 to 6 ounces prosciutto (to taste; optional)
- ~2 ounces grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about ¾ cup, firmly packed; buy the Italian stuff – it’s worth it)
- ½ cup Italian parsley, chopped
- 1½ sticks butter, divided (divide into ½ stick and 1 stick)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- salt to taste – probably ½ teaspoon kosher salt (see Notes)
- freshly ground black pepper to taste (a dozen grinds for us; black pepper tastes wonderful in this dish)
- additional 1 tablespoon kosher salt for seasoning the pasta water
- ~1 pound fresh pasta, preferably fettuccine (can substitute dried pasta; see Notes)
- additional grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
Everything comes together quickly with this recipe, so be sure to prep all the ingredients before you begin making the sauce (Step 9). You may need to adjust the timing a bit, especially if you’re using dried pasta (see Notes).
- Place a big cooking pot of water (at least 4 quarts) on the stovetop to heat. Then prep the ingredients while the water is coming to a boil.
- Wipe off the mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Slice the mushrooms thinly, then set them aside.
- Wash and dry the zucchini. Cut it into julienne slices. Set aside.
- Chop the prosciutto (if using) into slices of about ¼ inch. Set aside.
- Grate the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Set aside.
- Wash and dry the parsley, then mince it. Set aside.
- Divide the butter into ½ stick and 1 stick portions. Cut the butter into small pieces. Measure out the cream. Set both aside.
- The water is probably boiling by now. Turn the stovetop heat down to low (so the water stays hot, but isn’t boiling).
- Place a large frying pan (the 12-inch size is ideal) or Dutch oven over medium stovetop heat. When hot, add the ½ stick butter and let it melt. Add the mushrooms and prosciutto (if using), then sauté for 2 minutes.
- Add the julienned zucchini, the heavy cream, and the remaining stick of butter. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes.
- While the zucchini mixture is cooking, bring the pasta water back to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of kosher salt to season the water, then add the pasta. If using fresh pasta, cook for 2 minutes or until al dente (see Notes if using dried pasta).
- Drain the pasta, then add it to the zucchini mixture. Add the ¾ cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and the parsley. Toss together and adjust the seasoning.
- Serve with additional grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and a sprinkling of minced parsley for garnish, if desired.
- As noted above, you may need to be a bit flexible with timing. If the zucchini mixture (Step 10) finishes cooking before the pasta is ready, just set it aside for a minute. Then reheat it when you add the pasta (Step 12).
- Dried pasta takes longer to cook than fresh pasta. So if using dried, you might want to add it to the cooking pot (along with seasoning salt) as soon as the water starts boiling (Step 8). Then delay beginning the sauce (Step 9) for a couple of minutes to give the pasta time to cook.
- We recommend using 1 pound of pasta, but you can get away with ¾ pound if you want a sauce-heavy dish.
- If using dried pasta, we suggest using a shape that the sauce will cling to. Farfalle (butterflies) would be our choice.
- You can substitute Pecorino Romano cheese for Parmigiano-Reggiano if you wish (though its flavor is a bit stronger).
- BTW, feel free to increase the quantity of cheese – it’s hard to add too much to this dish.
- We use kosher salt for cooking (sea salt at table). Kosher salt is less salty by volume than regular table salt (its large crystals don’t pack as densely). If using regular table salt, use about half as much as we suggest.
- But always adjust salt and black pepper to your own taste.
“Love this dish!” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “And we’ve been making it since our first days together. We were just kids then.”
“No kidding!” I said. “This used to be our big company dish.”
“It’s so easy to make,” said Mrs K R. “But the flavor isn’t kid stuff.”
“Well,” I said, “you don’t need to be a whiz kid to cook great dishes.”
We kid you not.
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