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Recipe of the week: Penne with Zucchini and Mint from ‘Franny’s’

Addie Broyles

Franny’s has been wowing Brooklynites with its pizza since opening almost a decade ago, and now the owners, Andrew Feinberg and Francine Stephens, have teamed up with New York Times writer Melissa Clark to publish their first cookbook, “Franny’s: Simple Seasonal Italian” (Artisan, $35). The couple will stop by Austin this week for a cooking class at 6:30 Wednesday at Central Market, 4001 N. Lamar Blvd.

At the class, they’ll teach dishes including crostino of whipped eggplant and anchovy, and squid with salsa verde. The class costs $65 ( and includes a copy of the book, but if you can’t make the class, check out this recipe that showcases an heirloom variety of zucchini called Romanesco. You could use any kind of zucchini or summer squash, but it might not brown or caramelize as well as Romanesco.

Penne with Zucchini and Mint

With its dense, firm texture that can withstand high cooking temperatures, Romanesco zucchini works really well in this summer pasta dish. Unlike the usual zucchini, it can actually pick up some caramelized brown color in the pan without falling apart. Zucchini tends to be a mild-tasting vegetable, so browning it deeply is important for the flavor here.

To add some body to this otherwise delicate dish, Andrew uses a combination of butter and olive oil — the butter adds richness and helps to emulsify the sauce, and the oil contributes a floral note and a slight bite. Mint and zucchini are a classic Italian combination, and this delicious pasta will show you why.

1 3/4 lb. zucchini, preferably Romanesco, trimmed

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling

Kosher salt

1 lb. penne

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided

8 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

1/4 cup plus a scant 3 Tbsp. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more if desired

3 Tbsp. chopped mint

1/4 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper

Slice each zucchini into 2-inch-by-1/4-inch batons (you will have about five cups). In a very large skillet (or a Dutch oven), warm 2 Tbsp. of the olive oil over high heat. Add half the zucchini, season with salt, and cook, without moving it, until dark golden and almost tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the zucchini to a paper towel-lined plate. Add another 2 Tbsp. olive oil to the skillet and repeat with the remaining zucchini. Add 2 Tbsp. water to the pan. Remove from the heat.

In a large pot of well-salted boiling water, cook the pasta according to the package instructions until 2 minutes shy of al dente; drain.

In the same skillet, melt 3 Tbsp. of the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Toss in the penne and zucchini, and cook until the pasta is al dente, 1 to 2 minutes, adding more water if the sauce seems dry. Toss in the 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano and the remaining tablespoon of butter. Add the mint and season to taste with salt and the pepper.

Divide the pasta among four individual serving plates or bowls and finish each with a drizzle of olive oil and 2 teaspoons or more cheese. Serves 4.

— From “Franny’s: Simple Seasonal Italian” (Artisan, $35) by Melissa Clark, Andrew Feinberg and Francine Stephens