zucchini with saffron pasta sauce

We are continually resisting being seduced by new pasta cookbooks, without any consistent success. The ones full of glossy color photos are the hardest on our resolve. And when a sales guy walks into the ms_ani workplace with a sample copy to generate interest at only $2.99 per copy, complete with the glossy color photos, it was an offer that could not be refused. ms_ani  took the lead and others followed suit.

Of course usually these cookbooks just end up on the shelf. Unused. But we had some fresh zucchini in the fridge and not much else. And needed a zucchini idea to make it through dinner, without going to the supermarket, which we love to do of course, but not when it's too late. So since this cookbook was a fresh acquisition, we checked it out and came up with a winner. Zucchini with a creamy saffron sauce. Alas! No cream in the house, laments dr bob. We can't do it. No problem, says ms_ani. We'll just use milk. Milk? No, we can't do it. Milk with cornstarch. Hmm. Maybe. After all, what alternative was there? Besides, this substitution makes it much healthier! Still skeptical, the dr left it to the ms. And it was a success! Even better as leftovers for lunch the next day. The well known (to some) aging effect of pasta.

Of course your kitchen may have the cream but not the saffron. dr bob is a big importer of cheap Italian saffron for Iranian friends who are heavy users. 125 mg packets at roughly 50 cents a shot compared to an outrageous $3.50 circa for a probably comparable amount in those big glass jars you see in american supermarkets. So we keep a few packets ourselves just in case. Italians use saffron for risotto alla milanese, which is probably the most famous risotto dish that we've never made. Just yellow rice seems a bit boring to us, so we rarely have occasion to dip into our saffron supply.


1 lb penne or orecchiette
3 T olive oil
1 1/3 lb small young zucchini, cut into 1/4 in slices
salt, pepper, nutmeg to taste
2/3 c milk + 1 t cornstarch or 2/3 c cream (light, half and half, heavy, whipping?)
1/2 T saffron ?
parmesan cheese


    Cook the pasta. You know the routine. Al dente.
    Sauté the garlic and zucchini until browned but still crisp (i.e., not limp, nor as in "burned to a crisp"). Add the spices "to taste".
    If your arteries are feeling daring, bring the cream and saffron to a boil and simmer gently until it thickens slightly and attains a "mellow saffron color" (is that anything like "mellow yellow"... the 60s song by Donovan?). If you are health conscious like us or just don't happen to have cream on hand, mix the cornstarch with the milk and saffron and proceed as in the cream scenario.
    After draining the pasta, return to the pot and combine with the zucchini and saffron cream.
  5. SERVE.


  1. The american motto "bigger is  better" does not apply to  zucchini. Look for the narrowest ones at your supermarket.
  2. You might consider an Italian specialty store for the saffron.
  3. Oh, the pasta cookbook... we should pull it out and try some more things...
zucsafps.htm: 20-apr-2002 [what, ME cook? © 1984 dr bob enterprises]