Weekly Winner: Zucchini’s Cinderella Moment

Zucchini gets a bad rap.  It’s maligned, it’s looked down upon, and whenever possible, cast aside.  And that’s a shame.  I admit that by itself it is not terribly glamorous.  While I enjoy it raw with dips or sautéed as a side, it generally is not something I crave.  But whenever I have it, I think to myself “Why don’t people just give zucchini a chance?”  I think, like anything or anyone, with the right preparation and make-up, it can be a real stunner.

zucchini pastaCase in point – Pasta with Zucchini Pistou.  This dish is luscious.  It is decadent.  It is even elegant.  Things that are never associated with the lowly zucchini.  I got the recipe ages ago in Cooking Light Magazine and as soon as the weather warms up, I find myself searching for it again.

So as the farmer’s markets and well-meaning friends start pushing their zucchini at you, don’t look the other way.  Grab them and make this pasta.  You’ll be so glad you did.

Pasta with Zucchini Pistou

Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 ½ cups (1/4-inch-thick) slices small zucchini (about ¾ pound)

1 cup packed basil leaves

½ cup (2 ounces) shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided

2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

4 garlic cloves, chopped

2 cups chopped Vidalia or other sweet onion (about 1 large)

1 ¾ teaspoons kosher salt, divided

8 ounces uncooked tube-shaped pasta – I used rigatoni

¼ cup heavy whipping cream

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until tender and golden. Remove from pan; cool.

Place ¼ cup cooked zucchini, basil, ¼ cup cheese, pine nuts, and garlic in a food processor; process until finely chopped. (Keep mixture in processor.)

Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan; sauté 10 minutes or until golden. Return remaining cooked zucchini to pan. Remove from heat.

Combine 6 quarts water and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a large Dutch oven, and bring to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water according to package directions. Drain in a sieve over a bowl, reserving 1/3 cup cooking liquid. Add pasta to vegetables.

With processor on, add reserved liquid to basil mixture; process until smooth. Add basil mixture to pasta. Add cream, remaining salt, and pepper; stir. Top with remaining cheese.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Nancy C
    Jun 05, 2014 @ 08:31:12

    This recipe has actually inspired me to plant zucchini in my garden!

    Reply

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