03 September 2010

Spaghetti con Zucchini

When I started this post it was spring and the tiny tender zucchini were a delight to find after the winter vegetables had been a round for so long. Then it was hot, hot, hot, but since then things have cooled down a bit and still I find this simple recipe a three season pleaser. When the weather heats up and the siren song of the outdoors calls I think everyone starts to think in terms of simpler ways of cooking. The heart of Italian cooking itself relies on seasonality and  robustness of flavor so your ingredients flavors sing out with mimimal and simple preparation. Sounds perfect for the time of the year when you just want to be outdoors and cooking other than grilling doesn't hold much appeal. This simple pasta dish makes for an ample main or side dish that's satisfying without overdoing it.

Fingerling zucchini
I tracked down a lovely, out of print cookbook this winter from a a used bookseller and have been enjoying each of these very easy "Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces,"that Diane Seed assembled in the late 80's from her time spent living in Italy. I'm glad I tracked it down almost just for the vibrant pastel illustrations by Robert Budwig.  I must say this simplistic approach has given me an appreciation for letting the various pasta shapes and vegetables work their magic and strut their stuff without the subtleties being overwhelmed by the addition of many ingredients. It's so easy, at least for me, to think if a little garlic, basil or whatever you have is good, then, a bit more is even better. Sometimes it is, but sometimes a lighter hand makes for a stand alone flavor that shouts out it's goodness and lets you know just exactly what  you are eating. I tweaked it a little as I think it was a very large batch to manage. It's a great dish as it, and really needs no other adornment when you have small mild flavored zucchini. However it does lend itself to the usual suspects as well as garlic sauteed in with the zucchini with basil and finely chopped tomato tossed in as you toss it all together. Traditionally it is served without parmesan, with maybe a drizzle of flavorful olive oil on top just as you serve it,  but you could, of course, add some freshly grated parmesan when you serve it.  Course you can. You knew that though didn't you?

Shoe string zucchini

Spaghetti con Zucchini
  6 or so large servings

500g/1 lb spaghetti
1 kg/ 2 pounds small zucchini, thinly slivered
100 ml/  6T olive oil
salt and black pepper, coarsely ground is very nice

I love to repeat the shape of the spaghetti with the cutting of the zucchini on a mandolin or shredded as thinly as you can, so you have a long strip of zucchini resembling the pasta. You can hand cut them as well and if you have long zucchini, then just cut them into more manageable lengths. You can also simple cut them into half moon shapes, but I really like the thin strips.
Heat your oil up in a large saute pan so that the zucchini and pasta will all fit into one pot later when the pasta is cooked.
Slowly cook your zucchini until they are soft and much of their liquid has disappeared.
Cook your pasta al dente, while the zucchini are simmering.
When your pasta is done drain and add to the zucchini and serve with a light drizzle of flavorful olive oil.

*A useful tip for pasta sauces is to reserve perhaps a cup of your pasta water to add a few tablespoons as needed, if you find your pasta is a tad too dry. This is called lengthening the sauce and can be useful when making any pasta dish. You just need to be careful in how much you add, as it can easily add more salt than you might want if you are not careful.
This recipe works well making it in half portions and the two of us found that as a main course with a salad for lunch, that the half portion could have easily serve 2 more people.

Served with a chiffonade cut chicory salad with datarini tomatoes and chives, 
made for a delightful lunch. 


Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

I am always looking for new ways with zucchini, so this pasta dish with its matchsticks is perfect Marla.

Gigi said...


Bella Baita Marla said...

Thanks Val, you never can have too many zucchini recipes now can you?

Grazie Gigi, e complimenti per la tua avventura Artusi. In boca al lupo....Wow!

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