This riff on cacio e pepe packs a nutritional punch thanks to heaps of late summer produce. Sweet and tender zucchini and corn are the perfect accompaniments to creamy, peppery parmesan pan sauce. This pasta is ready in under 30 minutes, and even picky eaters love it.
Bring four quarts of water to a boil in an 8-quart pot. Add the salt and pasta. Cook pasta to 1 min below al dente (see package instructions). Reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain.
Heat a 12" skillet over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and heat until it shimmers. Add the diced zucchini and corn kernels. Sautee, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are bite tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sautee 1 minute more. Remove vegetables using a slotted spoon and set aside in a large serving bowl.
Add butter to the skillet and heat until it melts. Add the black pepper to the butter and toast for 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup reserved pasta water to the butter and pepper. Simmer for one minute.
Add the cooked pasta and sautéed vegetables to the pan sauce. Toss to coat, cook for 1 minute, then remove from heat.
Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl, then add the parmesan cheese. Fold the cheese into the pasta until a creamy sauce forms. If the sauce is too thick, add additional pasta water, a small splash at a time, until the consistency is creamy, but thin, and lightly coats the pasta and vegetables. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper if needed. Stir in the fresh basil and serve immediately. Leftovers keep well in a covered contained in the fridge for up to three days. This recipe does not freeze well.
Cook the pasta to 1 minute below al dente - it will finish cooking in Step 4.
Fresh, finely grated parmesan cheese is a must! Use a microplane to grate the cheese for best results. Do not use pre-grated parmesan - it won't melt, and the sauce will turn out lumpy.
Be sure to transfer the pasta to a serving bowl before adding the parmesan cheese so that the heat from the skillet does not cause the cheese to congeal.
As written, this recipe is medium peppery, so scale up or down to your preference.