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Zucchini Pasta With Chicken and Mint

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Summer dinner just got its greatest hit.

bowl of ziti pasta with zuchini, chicken, onion, and mint in white bowl

It is generally said that two things are certain: death and taxes. I would add a third: zucchini in summer. Zucchini fatigue (especially by the time August rolls around) is a real thing, but not when recipes like this exist. This Pasta With Chicken, Zucchini, and Mint may be the best pasta you’ll eat all summer.

You’ll also like: Sheet Pan Pasta Pomodoro and Spring Vegetable Farro

pan of zucchini with chicken and onion pieces on marble

Why This Pasta With Chicken, Zucchini, and Mint Is So Darn Good: An Origin Story

This recipe expands on a recipe from the dearly-departed Brooklyn restaurant, Franny’s. A Park Slope favorite (at least until they expanded and some charm got left behind in the move), Franny’s was the kind of small Italian restaurant that felt like home, but with better food. Their pizzas were famously good, but I always steered myself toward the short, but perfect, pasta menu.

Hits like fusilli with pork sausage ragù got the most airtime, but their seasonal pastas always tasted great, too. Not because they were complicated, but because they were not — just the exactly-right combination of good flavors.

This recipe is based on Franny’s recipe for a simple penne with zucchini, mint, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. I wanted a little more substance, so I added some onion — which complements zucchini perfectly — and cut-up chicken breast. I am allergic to penne, so I used ziti. But any medium-length tube pasta, including rigatoni, works well.

pan of cooked zucchini pieces

A few recipe notes and tips:

  • Make sure you use a very large skillet, and that the oiled pan is hot when you add the chicken and zucchini. You want each to get a nice brown sear and not steam-cook. Let each sit for a few minutes. Resist the temptation to stir or else you will interfere with the browning process.
  • I could see this being good with a good dollop of fresh ricotta on top, but that is just a suggestion.
  • Cut the zucchini into thin, 2-inch long batons. This complements the shape of the pasta. As a general rule of thumb, vegetable cuts should complement the dish that they are in.
  • Be generous with the mint. There are a lot of good flavors going on from the onion, garlic, zucchini, and salty pasta. You want to taste the mint, so use plenty.

What is your favorite zucchini recipe? Share in the comments.

bowl of ziti pasta with zuchini, chicken, onion, and mint in white bowl

bowl of ziti pasta with zuchini, chicken, onion, and mint in white bowl

Pasta With Zucchini, Chicken, and Mint

A satisfying and easy pasta, loaded with the best of summer.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Course: dinner
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keywords:: chicken, chicken breast, pasta, summer recipes, zucchini
Servings: 4 people
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Ingredients

  • 1 pound chicken breast, cut into small pieces (about 1" square)
  • 3 medium or 4 small zucchini
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1/2 onion, diced small
  • 1/2 cup loosely-packed fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more to serve
  • 1 pound ziti pasta
  • salt and freshly-cracked pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • red pepper flakes, extra mint, and grated cheese, to garnish

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of generously-salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until two minutes shy of al dente. Drain, reserving about a cup or more of pasta water.
  • Trim the ends of the zucchini. Slice longways in half. Then slice each half lengthwise again, so you have four long pieces. Cut each horizontally in thirds. You should have a bunch of 2" by 1/2" batons.
  • Heat half the olive oil over medium-high in a large skillet. Add the chicken in a single layer. Season generously with salt and pepper and let sit (do not stir) for 2 to 3 minutes, until the chicken cooks around the side and the bottom has turned golden brown. Add the onions and stir, cooking together until the chicken and onions are fully cooked, about 5 minutes more.
  • Remove the chicken and onions from the pan. Add the remaining olive oil to coat the pan, and add the zucchini in a single layer, along with a generous pinch of salt and some fresh-cracked black pepper. Let cook without stirring for several minutes, until the bottoms are browned. Stir the zucchini and continue to cook for another minute or two.
  • Add in the chicken, onions, garlic, butter, red pepper flakes, and pasta, along with a cup or so of pasta water. Stir everything to combine and let everything come together for a couple of minutes, while the pasta finishes cooking in the pasta water.
  • Remove the skillet from heat. Add the cheese, mint, any additional seasoning, and toss to combine. Serve hot, topped with a little more mint and cheese.

7 comments

  • I’m excited about trying this recipe but not a fan of mint. Would basil, parsley or other herb work in place of the mint?

    • Unpeeled

      Absolutely. Basil would be lovely, as would parsley. Great call!

  • 5 stars
    Good easy pasta dinner for summer.

  • Johanna

    5 stars
    Easy and flavorful. A wonderful summer pasta dinner.

  • EllieM.

    5 stars
    The mint flavor really made this for me. A nice touch, and the whole recipe was delicious and everyone in my family loved it.I have made this several times since it was first in the newsletter, and will make it every summer. This is a keeper.

  • 5 stars
    Will be a new summer weeknight dinner staple. Delicious.

  • 5 stars
    So. Good.

4.84 from 6 votes (1 rating without comment)

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