Mafaldine Pasta with Zucchini, Cream and Saffron

My Zucchini Festival continues today with another good zucchini pasta recipe ( see below) and a look at the seeds which produce this fecund vegetable. This year I planted two varieties of zucchini in my orto. The first to go in were the Black Jack variety, purchased as seedlings from a country market. They are the most common variety of zucchini grown in Australia, with vigorous, fast growing plants, high yields, and smooth dark green skin. Unfortunately for seed savers, they are also hybrids. The other variety, the Zucchino Striato d’Italia, or Italian striped zucchini, is easily grown from seed, and whilst not so prolific, which could be a good thing, they are definitely superior in taste and texture. An heirloom variety, this means you can save the seed for future plantings, a routine worth following when growing your own vegetables. The flavour is reminiscent of the zucchini grigliati we ate in the small trattorie in Trastevere, Roma. The other variety I’ve planted in the past is the yellow zucchini- a poor performer both in taste, yield and keeping quality, despite the lovely colour.

Mr Tranquillo in a trattoria in Trastevere. The side dish inclused some simply cooked and dressed zucchini striati. Once tasted, nevere forgotton.
Mr Tranquillo in a trattoria in Trastevere. The side dish included some simply cooked and dressed zucchini striati. Once tasted, never forgotten.

Today’s simple pasta dish marries Mafaldine pasta with small cubes of zucchini, saffron and cream. Mafaldine pasta is ribbon shaped pasta with curly edges and is also known as Reginette. The photos don’t do justice to the creaminess of this dish.

Mafaldine con Zucchini Striati, Panna e Zafferano

Mafaldine con Zucchini, Panna e Zafferano . Mafaldine Pasta with Zucchini, Cream and Saffron  (for 2 medium serves)

  • 180g mafaldine or other long ribbon egg pasta
  • 2 small zucchini, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • salt
  • pinch dried chilli
  • generous pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 cup cream
  1. Bring ample salted water to the boil in a large pot.
  2. Heat a large wide frying pan or non stick wok for the sauce. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil then the chopped onion and garlic. When softened, add the cubes of zucchini, some salt, and a pinch of dried chilli. Stir about and cook on low heat for around 20 minutes.
  3. Add the Mafaldine ( or chosen pasta) to the boiling water and cook for the required time.
  4. Use a little of the cooking water and add to the saffron to soften, then add this to the zucchini mixture. Add a cup of cream and raise the heat so that the cream thickens. Add more cream if necessary.
  5. When the pasta is ready, drain and add to the zucchini cream sauce in the pan. Toss about. Save a little pasta cooking liquid to loosen the sauce, if necessary.
  6. Serve with ample grated parmigiano cheese.

I enjoyed this dish on this cooler summer day. It will be included in my annual Zucchini Festival repertoire. It cost tuppence to make, allowing the splurge on a pinch or two of precious saffron pistils and a nice chunk of Reggiano Parmigiano cheese to serve.


seed packet- Zucchino striato d'Italia
seed packet- Zucchino striato d’Italia

Seed saving tips for non- hybrid zucchini:

29 thoughts on “Mafaldine Pasta with Zucchini, Cream and Saffron”

  1. You often give me quite an idea for my next meal, thanks.

    Do you remember the name of the trattoria in Trastevere? I’ll be in Rome in May, and that looks like the sort of place I’ll be seeking for a decent meal.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Whenever you post a pasta recipe I instantly want pasta for dinner. I don’t have much luck growing zucchini and their relatives here in Brisbane, powdery mildew always wins. To my surprise I had success growing okra but learnt that you need a good few of the plants and – like zucchini – don’t turn your back on them because they become rolling pins and very coarse very quickly. But – I now must try and grow the zucchino striato. I really didn’t know there was a difference in taste between the varieties. By the way, your reflective post on Christmas still floats in the back of my mind. I too dislike the way it is now more a gaudy celebration in the Temples of the Merchants and advertisements seem to push the need to have an abundance of ‘stuff’ and the perfect family.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. This is a rather late reply Jan. We are now in the throes of our beach holiday, camping along the foreshore and travelling to and fro each week. I never know where I am half the time. I’m not sure whether zucchini striati will behave in Brisbane any better than the common variety. I have experienced that powdery mildew in some seasons here and it’s devastating. I recall running about with a spray mixture of bi-carb soda which seemed to work. The taste of the striato is really much nicer I think.
      Thanks for your kind comments on my Christmas post. It was a tough decision to semi pull the plug on the big OTT christmas event.


      1. It is on Netflix here in the States. The series is called Chef’s Table. The chef/owner’s name is Ben. I don’t remember his last name. Seemed like he had a rough go with this restaurant and then it just took off. 32nd best restaurant in the world! No wonder it is so expensive.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Yum! We didn’t grow any zucchs this year, but my friend Di has been keeping us supplied with her homegrown ones. I love mafaldine pasta, created in honour of Princess Mafalda of Savoy. I was quite fascinated with the different pasta shapes a few years ago and ended up writing a blog post on it: We’ve since gone back to eating occhi di lupo (so much more romantic than plain penne) but I can feel another explore coming on now that I’ve read your post.. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, yes Ochi di lupo is a more interesting name, wolves eyes, than Penne. And of course, easier to pronounce. Most Aussies, when pronouncing penne, forget to put an extra stress on the double ‘n’ and say pene, meaning penis.

      I really like one particular brand of Mafaldine by Mantovanelle- light and eggy, keeping its shape well, unlike the Barilla version.
      Nice to hear from you Celia. x


  4. Yum, I want this now! I have a q … I never have cream on hand. It’s just not something I use often enough to warrant it. I do however, always have yoghurt. Would a thick yoghurt do the job, or do you think it’s sourness might overpower?


    1. I don’t think yoghurt would work, something about the taste and texture. There is a long life cream in the supermarket by6 Devondale. The packets are tiny- maybe a cup? but they are great for having a cream reserve. The other thing is if you do buy some cream and make a creamy pasta, shove the rest in the freezer in two lots in zippy bags. Cream in pasta goes well with herbs, cheese, peas and cheese like gorgonzola.
      Want this dish tomorrow?


      1. Oh man I only just saw your reply to this! I want it now… can I come back?? I was so happy with what you made us that day though. Honoured to be your nipote. Heading to shops now, will definitely do your cream idea – never thought of freezing it…. duh me! The amount I’ve wasted omg!!!!

        Liked by 1 person

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