Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Photo via Wikimedia Commons

A long time ago, I used to go to a restaurant in Los Angeles that served a dish called Pasta Portofino (or something like that). It included pasta with shrimp, tomato, garlic, and basil. It was a favorite of mine, and eventually I came up with my own version of it.  The restaurant
is long since closed, but I still enjoy this recipe all the time.

This is a light pasta dish that really lets the flavors of shrimp, tomato, basil, and garlic shine.  I originally created the recipe without the zucchini, but one day I had one left over and I decided to add it.  When it’s chopped so finely, it adds nutrition and texture without a heavy zucchini flavor.


Cook Time: 25 mins.
Level:  Easy
Yield:  2


1/2 tbs exra virgin olive oil
1/2 lb raw jumbo shrimp, peeled, tails off, and deveined
4 garlic cloves, minced finely
1/2 small zucchini, chopped in food processor or mini prep for a very fine consistency
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt (plus salt for boiling pasta)
2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
4-6 leaves of fresh basil, chopped
1 cup penne pasta
Freshly grated parmesan to taste

In a large pot, put water to boil for pasta with a handful of salt.  When water boils, cook pasta until al dente, about 11 minutes.  Remove from heat and drain.

Mince and chop your garlic and zucchini and set aside.  Cut the tomatoes in half and gently squeeze out some of the juice and seeds into the sink, then chop.

In a large skillet, heat the oil on medium.  Do not let it get too hot before putting in your garlic and zucchini because the garlic could burn.  Sautee for 1-2 minutes.  Add the shrimp, red pepper flakes, and salt and sautee until the shrimps are pink and almost cooked through, 2-3 minutes.  Add the chopped tomatoes and finish cooking the shrimp 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the fresh basil.

Add the pasta to the skillet and mix thoroughly.  Serve in bowls or plates and top with fresh parmesan.

copyright Holly West 2009

What do you do when some kind soul brings you a home grown zucchini the size of a small child?


If you’re anything like me, you thank them profusely and start thinking of things you can make with it.

Yesterday, John Maloni, the guy who was installing our heat pump, brought me a bag filled with a couple of huge zucchinis and cucumbers.  He told me his wife Debbie often prepared these by cutting them in half and mixing all sorts of ingredients with the zucchini meat and then stuffing the shell and baking it.  That sounded good to me.  I called her and got the basic 411 and then set out to create my own version of stuffed zucchini.

Italian Stuffed Courgette


This is a wonderful low-carb alternative to lasagna. The recipe is great as written, but feel free to experiment with ingredients you like to come up with a unique dish.

NOTE: This recipe was prepared using a very large homegrown zucchini (see photos). Cooking times may vary if you use smaller ones. I will re-post this recipe with updated times when I try this recipe with smaller zucchinis, such as the ones you can buy at the supermarket.

Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 45-60 minutes

1 large or two small zucchinis
1 lb ground turkey breast
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup mushrooms
1 cup marinara sauce
½ cup Italian-style bread crumbs, plus extra for topping
½ cup 2% shredded mozzarella cheese, plus extra for topping
¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus extra for topping
¼ cup olive oil, for drizzling
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
Garlic salt, to taste
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large skillet on medium heat, add ground turkey, garlic salt, parsley, cayenne pepper, oregano, and basil and brown until well cooked. Drain excess water and grease.

Meanwhile, prepare your zucchini by cutting it in half length-wise. Using a melon baller or a spoon, scoop the seeds from the middle of both halves and dispose. Continue scooping the meat of the zucchini and put it in a small bowl. You will use the largest of the zucchini halves as your “boat” for stuffing, but scoop the meat from both halves (if you are using smaller zucchinis, use two halves for stuffing and scoop the meat from all four halves). Add the minced garlic and mushrooms to the zucchini and mix well.

Put the half that will be stuffed onto a non-stick baking pan. Drizzle olive oil on the sides and add salt and pepper. Put the the side.


When the turkey is cooked, add the zucchini mixture to the skillet and sauté until zucchini, mushrooms, and garlic are softened. Add the marinara sauce and mix well. Reduce heat to low and simmer until most of the liquid is gone.


Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix bread crumbs, mozzarella, and Parmesan together. When turkey and zucchini mixture is ready, add to the bowl and mix well. Carefully spoon the mixture into your zucchini “boat” until well-filled—this should take all or most of the mixture. Top with additional breadcrumbs and drizzle with olive oil. Add a small sprinkling of mozzarella and Parmesan to the top.


Cover the zucchini with aluminum foil and bake, covered, for 30-45 minutes (check the zucchini shell at 30 for tenderness). Remove cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until cheese and breadcrumbs are golden brown.