The Super Sicilian: Nuccia’s Vegetable Pasta Recipe

STEPS 5 INGREDIENTS 8 TIME 50-60 MINS This stupidly easy, meat-free vegetable pasta recipe comes courtesy of my mamma-in-law’s good Sicilian friend, Nuccia Pelliccia. (What a great Italian name!) sicilian_pasta_recipe

Nuccia obviously knows her stuff too, because for this ‘penne zucchine pomodoro’ dish she combines zucchini (or courgette) with fresh chopped tomatoes, fresh basil and a fiery chili kick – creating a soft veggie sauce that contrasts beautifully with ‘al dente’ (firm) penne pasta.

While this vegetable pasta recipe does take time to cook, there is no pain involved because for most of it you just stir the sauce.

So… absolutely no brainpower required yet the end result is molten veggie heaven – an ideal cooking combo!

Serves 2

Ingredients: (For a printable PDF shopping list click here, or right-click this link and choose ‘Save target/link as’ to save the list for later.)

200g/7oz penne pasta (rigatoni and fusilli also work)

250g/9oz fresh tomatoes (cherry or normal sized)

200g/7oz zucchini/courgette

½ a medium onion

10g/0.3oz basil leaves (roughly 10 good sized leaves)

½ teaspoon of chili powder

Extra virgin olive oil



Frying pan – ideally with lid

Deep pasta pan

Sharp chopping/‘paring’ knife

STEP 1 – The first step of this vegetable pasta recipe is all about preparing (‘prepping’) the ingredients:

– If using normal sized tomatoes, peel them first: stand them in a bowl of kettle-boiled water for 2 mins. Then drain the water and carefully peel away the skins.

Then chop these toms into small 1cm chunks.

– If using small cherry tomatoes, don’t peel these. Just chop them into quarters.

– Chop the ends off the zucchini and slice it as thinly as possible. Really thin. The thinner these slices are, the less time the softening and frying process will take.

– Wash the basil leaves.

– Chop the ends off the onion and peel it. Now slice it – again as thinly as poss.

STEP 2 – Coat your frying pan with olive oil and heat this on a medium heat hob.

When the oil is hot, turn down to low and add the sliced onion. Fry until soft – usually 6-7 minutes.

Tip: If you don’t have a lid for your pan, this frying will take a minute or two longer.

STEP 3 – When the onion has softened, throw in the zucchini and half a teaspoon of salt.

Fry gently on the same heat, stirring regularly, until the zucchini is very soft (almost molten); allow between 15 and 20 minutes for this.


STEP 4 – Now add the tomato chunks. Turn up to a medium heat and cook for a further 20 mins, stirring occasionally.

Important: After 10 mins, stir in the basil leaves and chili powder!

Now is also a good time to boil two kettles’ worth of water and transfer this to your big pan. When it’s boiling, add the pasta and half a handful of salt.

(Check the packet, but penne pasta should take roughly 10 mins.)

STEP 5 – When its final 20 mins is up, take the sauce off the heat.

And when the pasta is ready (softened but not mush, in other words ‘al dente’), drain it and add to the frying pan.

Stir this mixture on a medium heat for 2 mins.


Congratulations… you’ve nailed Nuccia’s mafia-country vegetable pasta recipe. Now just enjoy it. Serve with… well, the finest red wine you can find of course!

Enjoyed this pasta and zucchini recipe?

Then why not…

• Try another Sicilian-style ‘tastebud kicker’ with this chili and garlic pasta recipe

• Use up any remaining zucchini by making this delicious vegetable pasta salad

And look out for more Sicilian pasta recipes coming to this site soon…