What to do with Zucchini

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pasta w grated zucchini

I saw a longtime friend of mine on a recent visit to NYC. Gerald Busby is a cherished friend and mentor…AND a great composer. (I’ve been lucky enough to collaborate with him on some music projects.)

 

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Gerald and me at his apartment in the Chelsea Hotel…my painting of the Chelsea behind us!

But Gerald is also a very good cook…so our chatting led to food…and he offhandedly described something he cooked up recently. It sounded so yummy I made it as soon as I got home. I LOVE this recipe: Pasta w Grated Zucchini

Simple. Smart. Delicious.

Here’s how it goes: Put your pasta pot of water on the heat to get it boiling. Then start your zucchini sauce. Chop a medium onion into dice. Sauté in a little butter (and I added a little olive oil, too)…

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onions sautéing 

Trim the ends of two medium zucchini. Grate zucchini on the large holes of a box grater.

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grate zucchini

When the onion has softened. Add the grated zucchini to the pan.

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saute zucchini with onion

Try to coincide with also adding your pasta to the pot of boiling water (salt water first) — about 12 ounces, or even up to a pound of pasta.

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I got this pasta while in NYC at Eataly. It’s the Barilla brand that’s made in Italy and it’s rare to see “garganelli” as an egg pasta. So good! I think a cut pasta works best with this recipe.

Sauté zucchini till it starts to simmer, then add a splash of dry white wine. Season with salt, and cook for 2-3 minutes until softened.

Add about a 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Cook till simmering.

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add cream to the zucchini, cook until cream reduces some

Reserve about a 1/2 cup of pasta water. Drain pasta and add it to the pan of zucchini sauce. Stir to coat, and cook until the pasta and sauce are heated together, and the pasta is well coated. Add a little pasta water, or some more butter or olive oil if it needs moistening.

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Transfer to a serving platter. Scatter a little grated cheese. And bring more cheese to the table for individual servings.

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Simple. Smart. Delicious.

Pasta with Grated Zucchini

2 tablespoons butter

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 medium zucchini, trimmed & grated

1/4 cup dry white wine

12 ounces  – 1 lb. cut pasta (i.e. penne, ziti, garganelli)

1/2 cup heavy cream

salt to taste

grated cheese to taste

Place a pasta pot of water on the heat. Heat the butter and oil in a large sauté pan with about 2-inch sides (to hold pasta later). Sauté onion until soft. Then add grated zucchini.

Add pasta to boiling water (salt water first). When zucchini is simmering, add wine. When zucchini has softened (about 3-4 minutes), add cream. Let simmer till cream reduces a bit. Season with salt.

Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water. Drain pasta and add to zucchini sauce. Heat and coat pasta and let cook for about 2 minutes. Add a bit of pasta water or olive oil (or even a bit of cream or butter) if too dry.

Transfer to serving platter. Sprinkle some grated cheese. Bring some grated cheese to the table for individual servings.

 

 

 

The Zucchini, Peppers, Eggplant Reunion

Zucchini, Eggplant, Peppers

Zucchini, Eggplant, Peppers

You can use the above picture as a color palette for painting the walls of the rooms of your house. Bright yellow kitchen walls (I have that), Deep red dining room walls (I have that). Eggplant saturated office walls (I have that). And green…green…bedroom walls? (I don’t have that. No green walls.) (But the garden is green!)

Green Garden

Green Garden

The other thing you can do with that basket of wonder is cook it. Especially now when the shelves of the supermarket and the bins of the farmer’s market are spilling over with zucchini, eggplant and peppers. Those veggies just SAY summer (listen closely you can hear them) (they have tiny voices that squeak a little) (except for the eggplant, the eggplant is deep & bass-y). I’ve got a recipe that brings them together into a melange that makes them start singing.

First: cut each vegetable into uniform bite-sized pieces. Line 3 sheet pans with foil. Toss the cut-up zucchini on one, the cut-up peppers on the other, the cut-up eggplant on the third. Drizzle each with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper (add a little hot pepper like “aleppo” if you’re so inclined), and roast each pan in a 400 degree oven until golden and softened.

NOW (in a large mixing or serving bowl) mix them all together. In a food processor (or by all means mince with a knife) pulse some basil and parsley and garlic. Add a little olive oil and season with salt. “Dress” your roasted veggies with the mixture and serve. Hot or room temp (I like room temp best for this).

When you take a bite you’re tasting summer, you’re swallowing the sun. You’re engaging with 3 separately grown vegetables that are finally having their reunion (because they are really lifelong friends…didn’t you know they went to high school together?)

Roasted zucchini, eggplant, pappers

Roasted zucchini, eggplant, peppers

And if you’re at the grill today and your CSA basket is overtaking your home with zucchini, eggplant and peppers, get them on the grill!

grilling zucchini, eggplant, peppers

grilling zucchini, eggplant, peppers

Slice each veggie. Toss with some olive oil and salt. Grill till grill lines make their appearance and your veggies soften up.

Make the pesto like above but add a bit more olive oil. Serve on a pretty plate (the veggies are, of course, the prettiest) and stare at the beauty for a while. But don’t wait too long. Your taste buds are dying to join the party.

grilled zucchini, eggplant, peppers w pesto

grilled zucchini, eggplant, peppers w pesto

The Lowly Breadcrumb…Not

Toasted Breadcrumb

Toasted Breadcrumb

All you have to do is add a little olive oil to a sauté pan. Heat it a bit. Throw in a peeled, smashed clove of garlic. Add about a cup of breadcrumbs (regular, panko, fresh-made, either/or) and sauté until golden or dark brown. Season with salt & pepper. Discard garlic clove.

Now what?

I used to only make this when I made pasta with a seafood sauce. Toasted, flavored breadcrumb sprinkled on the pasta instead of cheese is the best way to enjoy seafood pasta.

But now I go crazy. I’m topping fish filets and then roasting them in the oven with some added lemon. (Sometimes I add a little grated parmigiano to the breadcrumb.)

Cod Filets with Breadcrumb Topping

Cod Filets with Breadcrumb Topping

I’m mixing the toasted breadcrumb with roasted or sautéed vegetables.  (Zucchini, roasted peppers, string beans, asparagus.)

Zucchini and yellow squash

Zucchini and yellow squash

Peppers, Capers, Breadcrumb

Peppers, Capers, Breadcrumb

Sprinkle some on top of scrambled eggs. Add it to the salad.  Stuff a chicken breast. Or a mushroom or tomato.

Roasted Tomatoes with Breadcrumb

Roasted Tomatoes with Breadcrumb

The crunch, the added flavor, the look of it (rustic, surprising, okay, yes, exciting) takes your dish to a deeper level. Maybe it’s from the cucina povera but necessity is often the muse of several bouts of serendipity.

Paulette

Paulette

Zucchini Agrodolce Recipe from Venice

Herbs at the Rialto Market

Herbs at the Rialto Market

Here’s a short video of my cooking segment on Channel 4’s More at Midday WSMV-TV Nashville…includes a brief glimpse of video from the Venice trip…but I will be posting MORE soon!

 

Zucchini Agrodolce from Venice on WSMV TV Nashville

Cooking Class on the Italian-French Border

 

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Well, actually, we were in Nashville.  But the menu was both French and Italian: fresh ravioli stuffed with ricotta-gorgonzola-arugula in a pomodoro crudo sauce, coq au vin, and roasted zucchini flecked with bite-sized lemon pieces (peel and all).

The local Jr. League Transfer Chapter came by for the class and dinner for their dining club night.  A terrific bunch of cooks! They were meeting as a pals-get-together, but they were all strangers to me. By the end of the evening they adopted me as an honorary member. Then the limoncello was poured. (Well, no one was interested in espresso!)

chicken sauteed for coq au vin

chicken sauteed for coq au vin

mushrooms, shallots, carrots for coq au vin

mushrooms, shallots, carrots for coq au vin

coq au vin

coq au vin

tomato crudo sauce

tomato crudo sauce

ravioli

ravioli