Zucchini and mint seem ideally suited to each other. One of my students’ favorite vegetable dishes is a sautéed zucchini-and-mint recipe from my book, Every Night Italian. The important thing here is to cut the zucchini into narrow enough strips and sauté them long enough to develop a rich, sweet flavor.
½ medium to large sweet yellow onion
4tablespoonsextra-virgin olive oil
1 medium clovegarlic
6–7sprigsflat-leaf Italian parsley
1¼pounds small zucchini
8–10 fresh basil leaves
Fill a pot for the pasta with about 6 quarts of water, place over high heat, and bring to a boil.
Peel and thinly slice the onion crosswise. Put the olive oil in a 12-inch skillet, add the sliced onion, and place over medium-high heat. Season lightly with salt and sauté until the onion turns a rich golden color, 6 to 8 minutes.
While the onion is sautéing, peel and finely chop the garlic. Finely chop enough parsley to measure 2 tablespoons. Wash the zucchini, trim the ends, and cut into narrow strips ¼ inch wide and 1 to 1½ inches long. To get narrow strips you will need to cut the zucchini lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick slices.
When the onion is ready, add the garlic and parsley. Stir for 10 to 15 seconds, then add the zucchini. Season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is very tender and lightly browned in places, about 10 minutes.
After the zucchini has cooked for 5 minutes, add about 2 tablespoons salt to the boiling pasta water, add the fusilli, and stir well. Cook until al dente.
While the zucchini is cooking, chop the mint medium-fine and coarsely chop the basil. After the zucchini has cooked 8 minutes, add the mint and basil. When the zucchini is ready, remove from the heat.
Just before the pasta is done, put the skillet with the zucchini back over high heat and add 2 to 3 tablespoons of the pasta water. Stir to loosen and dissolve all the browned bits on the bottom of the skillet, then remove from the heat.
When the pasta is done, drain well, toss with the sauce, and serve at once.