a light summer dish

Tanita Davis’s recent visit inspired me to seek out more vegan recipes, so I asked Jules of 7-Imp and my half-sister, Sylvia, for suggestions. Jules shared a couscous recipe which I’m going to try very soon, and Sylvia pointed me to Mario Batali’s Penne Puttanesca, a meat-free pasta dish that she’s prepared many times for her vegan friends.

Penne Puttanesca has many things going for it — it’s easy, it’s a great way to use up surplus zucchini, and its flavors and textures are varied and satisfying. With a fresh green salad and crispy baguette, it’s the perfect light meal for lazy summer days. I imagine if the tomatoes and basil also came from your own garden, it would be even more delizioso! Add olives, capers, garlic, and red pepper flakes, and your taste buds will thank you many times over. Enjoy!

(adapted from Mario’s Food Network recipe, serves 4)


  • 1/2 pound young zucchini, sliced 1/4-inch thick, into 1/2 moons
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced paper thin
  • 12 large leaves basil, torn in 1/2
  • 1 pound can tomatoes, roughly chopped, retaining seeds and liquid
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons salt packed giant capers, rinsed of salt and drained
  • 1/4 cup tiny black olives
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons kosher or sea salt
  • 1 pound dried penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • Freshly cracked black pepper


In a large bowl, combine the zucchini, garlic, basil, tomatoes, olive oil, capers, olives, lemon juice, and a little salt to taste (approximately 1-2 tsp). Allow to stand in cool place for 1/2 hour.  

Meanwhile, bring 6 quarts water to boil in spaghetti pot and add 2 tablespoons salt. Drop the penne in the pot and cook according to the package instructions until “al dente”, about 10 to 12 minutes. Drain the pasta in a colander and add the pasta to the cool vegetables in the mixing bowl. Toss in chili flakes, more basil and cracked black pepper. Stir gently to mix well and serve immediately.  

Note: this dish is not served hot.

P.S. Cornelius wants you to have a root beer float for dessert.


Thanks again for sharing the recipe, Syl! We love it!!

Couscous coming soon!

More 2010 Summer Soup posts here.

Copyright © 2010 Jama Rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.

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