Thursday, September 16, 2010

Zucchini Pasta

This recipe, learned from some Italian exchange students, is one of the first things I ever learned to cook. It's still one of my favorite recipes, although it's so simple that it should hardly be called a recipe. I've added some Italian seasoning and some red pepper flakes, but the original was even more simple, so feel free to leave out the seasonings, if you like. 

If you have one of those gardens that's currently overflowing with zucchini, this is a great way to get rid of some of it. Even my brother likes this pasta, although he claims to not like pasta. How can someone with Italian blood in them not like pasta, I ask?

Zucchini Pasta

This recipe is for one person, but obviously you can double, triple, quadruple it...just don't overcrowd overcrowd the sauté pan--divide up the zucchini if it's too crowded in one pan.
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
  • 4 ounces pasta, the shape of your choice
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 'Italian' seasoning, or a little bit of dried basil, thyme, rosemary, and oregano
  • A dash of red pepper flakes

In a large sauté pan, heat a tablespoon olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic cloves and cook, stirring frequently, until the cloves become golden. At this point, you can remove the garlic with a slotted spoon (possibly advisable if you're cooking for other people), or you can leave them in the pan for a more intense garlic flavor.

While the garlic is cooking, slice the zucchini in half lengthwise, and then cut the long pieces crosswise in 1/4 inch pieces, so that you're left with 1/4 inch wide half-moon shapes. When the garlic is golden, add the zucchini to the pan, and increase the heat to medium. 

Sauté the zucchini, stirring often, until all pieces are tender and golden brown, about 20 minutes. You may occasionally need to turn the heat up to medium high if the zucchini is cooking very slowly, or if it's just softening without browning. It should make a constant, very low sizzling sound. While the zucchini is cooking, salt to taste. When it is finished, add pepper to taste, and toss.

While the zucchini is cooking, put a large pot with heavily salted water on to boil. When it's boiling, add your pasta. You'll want to try to time this so that the pasta is ready at the same time as the zucchini. Timing will differ, though, based on your pasta shape of choice.

When the pasta is al dente, drain in a colander, and dump into your pasta bowl. Drizzle a tablespoon olive oil over the top, sprinkle about a 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning over the pasta, add a dash of red pepper flakes, and toss. Top with the zucchini and serve.

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