Zucchini and Penne with Hot Pepper Pesto

Mint and pistachios make this pesto herby and rich, and jalapeños give it a spicy touch.


  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 2 handfuls grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 1 cup flat leaf parsley, packed
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh mint leaves
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded
  • 2 cloves garlic, pasted
  • 3-4 tablespoons pistachios, toasted
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • About 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 small or 1 medium zucchini, halved, seeded and sliced into half-moons


Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and return to the pot, reserving 1 cup of the starchy cooking water.

While the pasta is working, using a food processor, finely chop the cheese, parsley, mint, jalapeños, garlic, pistachios, lime zest and juice; season with salt and pepper. With the machine on, stream in about 5 tablespoons EVOO to form a pesto.

In a large skillet, heat about 1 tablespoon EVOO over medium-high heat. Add the butter and heat until foaming. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring, until lightly golden, about 10 minutes; season with salt and pepper.

Add the pesto and reserved starchy cooking water to the pasta and toss, 1-2 minutes. Stir in half of the zucchini. Serve the pasta in shallow bowls and top with the remaining zucchini.

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