Mortadella Head zucchini pasta

We spend a lot of time in the kitchen here at Mortadella Head. Most of that time we’re experimenting to come up with the best sandwiches and pizza in the Boston area. But we also like to have fun and learn a few things. We recently invited our friend Fausto Minidio into the kitchen to teach us — and you — a little something about the way a real Italian cooks.  

A little background on Fausto: He’s from the Abruzzo region of Italy and has been living in the Boston area for the past few years. He’s worked in the food industry for a long time. Fausto started out working in restaurants as a kid in his hometown, and now works for one of the largest Italian food importers and retailers in Boston.

I invited Fausto in after having lunch at his house one day. After our Italian language lesson, he made a simple dish with zucchini and onions — two ingredients that make a nice creamy sauce. The dish was good. Really good. So I thought it would be a great idea to get him into the Mortadella Head kitchen to experiment with us.

The day he showed up, Fausto got off the train in Davis Square and walked right into Mortadella Head with a duffle bag full of his own pans and ingredients. I had told him we would already have everything he’d need to make the dish at the restaurant. But apparently he didn’t want to take a chance letting us hacks source ingredients for his signature dish.

Fausto called his dish “crema di zucchini.” Each ingredient in the recipe can easily be found in your local grocery store, and you’d be crazy not to make it yourself. Just make sure you use fresh vegetables, a high-quality Italian olive oil, and a good Parmesan cheese. For the pasta, we used rigatoni, but you could really use any kind.

We ended up calling this dish “Pasta al Faustino.” It was awesome. Simple, fresh, lively. It was great with pasta, but we’ll be using it as a pizza sauce really soon. We’ll share on Instagram when we make it, so be on the lookout for that. In the meantime, here’s the recipe so you can make it at home.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup Italian olive oil
  • 3 zucchini, sliced into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced into ½-inch pieces
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Water, as needed
  • 1 lb. rigatoni pasta

Directions

Add half of the olive oil to sauté pan over medium heat. Cook zucchini, onions, and garlic until they have softened and the onions are translucent. Season with salt and pepper. Add water, a little at a time, to avoid the vegetables from burning. The water will also help soften the onions and zucchini.

While vegetables are cooking, bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add pasta and cook one minute less than the instructions on the package. Stir often so the pasta doesn’t stick together. Drain pasta in a colander, reserving some of the starchy pasta water.  

Once zucchini and onions are soft enough to mash with a fork, place entire contents of the pan into a blender. Puree on low while slowly adding the remainder of the olive oil. Once the mixture is creamy, add half of the parmesan cheese.

Add the crema di zucchini to a saucepan over medium heat. Add cooked pasta to the pan and toss to evenly coat. Transfer pasta to a plate and sprinkle with more parmesan before serving. Buon appetito!

Watch the video below to see us in action!