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Courgette Pasta with Mascarpone, Basil & Lemon Recipes extracted from: The Farm Table by Julius Roberts. Published by Ebury, £27. Photography by Elena Heatherwick Demeter
April 2024
Reading time 2 Minutes

Homegrown courgettes cooking in a puddle of good olive oil with garlic, lemon and chilli is a combination that sings of summer to me

I make this almost every day from June to September, to be stirred through risotto, served next to a piece of fish, on toast with burrata, or with my eggs in the morning. But my personal favourite is tossed through pasta with mascarpone, fresh basil and lemon. It's sheer joy, zingy and fresh with a gentle hum of chilli. Pictured here with homemade cavatelli, a much-loved pasta that's incredibly easy to make, with a pleasing texture that goes so well with this dish.
  • 1kg courgettes (ideally a few different colours, shapes and sizes)
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • a generous pinch of chilli flakes
  • 400g pasta (I love using homemade cavatelli for this but penne, tortiglioni and linguine are also great)
  • 1 large unwaxed lemon
  • 3 tbsp mascarpone
  • a large bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked (mint also works very well)
  • a knob of butter, about 30g

Start by bringing a large pan of well-seasoned water to the boil for the pasta.

Slice the courgettes into rounds about as thick as your little finger, cutting any large courgettes in half lengthways first. Heat the olive oil in a wide pan and add the courgettes. Season well with salt to draw out the moisture and fry for five minutes to get things going, before adding the garlic and chilli flakes. The key here is to end up with courgettes that are softened but not mushy, some beginning to collapse while others still have a bit of bite. The oil should be richly infused with garlic that has sweetened and not taken on any colour. Keep stirring the courgettes, and meanwhile get the pasta in.

When the pasta is al dente, remove a large mug of starchy water from the pan before straining. Add the pasta to the courgettes, grate in the lemon zest, then add the mascarpone and a generous splash of the reserved pasta water. Mix vigorously until the sauce is well combined and coats the pasta, adding more pasta water and mascarpone as needed. Squeeze in the juice of half the lemon, then add the basil and butter. Mix again and taste to check your seasoning – it may need a splash more lemon juice and salt. Serve immediately with a drizzle of really good olive oil.

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