Feta, zucchini and tomato are classic Greek ingredients and they come together in this 5 Ingredient Pasta like they’ve know each other forever. Which they have.
A sprinkle of lemon zest and the juice of a lemon perks everything up considerably. This is a vegetarian dish, but if you wanted to add some cooked chicken or shrimp it would be great, too.
Experimenting with whole grain pastas is a nice way to get more whole grains into your diet but regular pasta works perfectly well, too. In these photos and in the video I used regular cavatappi, one of my all-time favorite shapes of pasta. You could go for a tri-color pasta if you wanted extra color in this already colorful pasta.
And yes, it’s another way to use up all of that zucchini that’s flooding the garden and the farmers’ markets. If you’re facing a log jam of zucchini, also try Modern Greek Salad, Crunchy Parmesan Zucchini Coins, Zucchini Ribbon Salad, and Tomato, Zucchini and Bulgur Salad.
I love when earlier in the season you can find baby zucchini, which I used here, which are adorable, have very few seeds, and a nice firm texture. And if baby zucchini are in your world, use them here. Diced regular ripe tomatoes are very fine as well instead of the cherry or grape tomatoes; use about 4 large ones.
And, no I’m not counting the pasta, salt and olive oil as part of the 5-ingredients. Otherwise you just have to make something like cacio e pepe, which is delicious, but doesn’t allow for much headroom in the old ingredient list. You may also have noticed a sprinkle of parsley on top. Yesssssss….I cheated. And you can do (or not). You could also go for slivered basil or sliced chives (or not).
Other ways to cheat the 5-ingredient limit (not for vegetarians): add diced cooked chicken, chunked cooked salmon, some shrimp.
But then again, you’re not going wrong with the recipe as is.
5-Ingredient Pasta #4: Whole Grain Penne with Zucchini, Tomato and Feta
- Kosher salt to taste
- 1 pound whole grain or regular penne, cavatappi, or other short chunky pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion any color, diced
- 2 medium zucchini or 7 to 8 baby zucchini, sliced
- 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes halved
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Salt the water generously, and let it return to a boil. Add the pasta, and cook accordingly to package directions, stirring occasionally. Before you drain the pasta make sure to remove a cup of the cooking water.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onions and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes until they start to soften and caramelize. Add the zucchini and sauté until it starts to become tender, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and saute until they start to soften slightly release their juices, about 2 minutes.
- Drain the pasta, reserving the cup of cooking water, and return the pasta to the pot with ½ cup of the cooking water. Add the zucchini tomato mixture to the pot, along with 3/4 of the feta and the lemon zest an juice and toss well. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and toss in the rest of the cooking water. Turn into a serving dish and sprinkle with the remaining feta (throw on a handful of chopped parsley if you have it handy). Serve hot or warm.
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