fusilli with zucchini and mushrooms

So a newspaper food article talks about a handful of favorite old cookbooks, 4 out of 6 of which we had in our cooking library, including Marcella Hazan's Classic Italian Cooking, which Marcella later combined with another of her classics and updated for health considerations to beome The Essentials of Italian Cooking, one of our most reliable references. The article included one of her recipes with a real yummy sounding name, a recipe we somehow missed, so we decided to give it a try. But without reading carefully the ingredient list. The recipe called for a pound of zucchini and a lot of fresh basil and we only had about 6 fast declining baby zucchinis left from a previous dish and some frozen fresh basil in the freezer. And once ani gets planted at home in the late afternoon, there is usually a strong resistance to leaving again for food foraging. Especially since we had already been to the supermarket on the way home from the fitness center, but without knowing what to pick up for the execution of this particular dish due to poor planning on bob's part.

So we changed course, but kept the raw yolk carbonara idea in the game plan. ani pulled out the mushrooms and took over the action, starting from the zucchini idea researched by bob, who provided the egg consultation at the crucial point. And did some food prep. bob has a special talent for grating cheese, for example. Readying the zucchini was also well within his kitchen skills. The fusilli were made from whole wheat plus flax, on hand thanks to Trader Joe's, qualifying them as a more complex carb and thus satisfying our wish to improve our chances of living healthier longer in our increasingly closer golden years on the horizon. Of course the light cream was a step in the wrong direction, but once in a while, why not?

We'd already done a variation of this zucchini creamy sauce idea with fettuccini zuffredo, probably inspired by the same zucchini pasta recipe as highlighted in the article, so this was not a big stretch. As usual, we had big helpings (ani slightly smaller of course) and seconds, bob thirds. Good enough to remember and try again.


1 lb fusilli  (or farfalle etc)
12oz white mushrooms, peeled and thinly sliced
more than 6 baby zucchini or the equivalent in regular zucchini
2 T extra virgin olive oil for sautéing
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 c fresh basil, chopped [ours was frozen, and a bit inadequate]
3/4 c light cream
1 egg yolk, beaten
1/2 c freshly grated parmigiano
freshly grated parmigiano and black pepper to taste on each serving


  1. Start the pasta water boiling. Dump in the usual amount of salt and the pasta when it reaches boiling point.
  2. Meanwhile prepare the mushrooms and set aside.
  3. Prepare the zucchini. If baby variety, cut crossways in thin disks. If larger, quarter lengthwise before cutting crossways, for example. Use your judgement. Set aside.
  4. Sauté the mushrooms until softened, then toss in the zucchini and salt and pepper and continue cooking until the zucchini are softened.
  5. Toss in the basil towards the end.
  6. Beat the egg yolk with 1/2 c light cream.
  7. Drain the pasta and save some of the pasta water for the sauce.
  8. Dump the pasta on top of the sauce and mix in first the egg yolk mixture and mix it up so that the hot pasta has a chance to partially cook the egg, hopefully,  in case the dreaded salmonella is along for the ride.
  9. Add another 1/2 c light cream and say 1/2 c pasta water to adequately sauce the pasta so it coats all the pasta evenly, mixing in the parmigiano as well, and perhaps some more black pepper to taste.
  10. Serve with more parmigiano and black pepper on each serving.


  1. Recipe catalyst: "Cherished Cookbooks" by Beth D'Addono. Philadelphia Inquirer. October 1, 2009. [We have: The Joy of Cooking, The Silver Palate Cookbook, The Frog Commissary Cookbook, The Classic Italian Cookbook; we don't have: The NYTimes 60 Minute Gourmet, The Fannie Farmer Boston Cooking School Cookbook]
  2. Marcella's Fusilli with Creamy Zucchini and Basil Sauce, found in both Classic Italian Cookbook and in the Essentials of Italian Cooking. And ripped off by a whole lot of internet food sites without citing its origin where it also acquired the alternate name Fusilli alla Pap (meaning unclear). Looking at the details of this recipe, the zucchini are julienned and deep-fried first, sort of taking the place of pancetta in the traditional carbonara recipe. She also uses some pecorino Romano together with the parmigiano for an extra kick.
  3. Illustrations available.
fusillimshrmzuk.htm: 12-oct-2009 [what, ME cook? © 1984 dr bob enterprises]