Zucchini, it is kind of an odd vegetable. Okay, maybe not that odd, but kind of odd.
Think about it. It often looks like a cucumber but is in actual fact a member of the squash family. It can be eaten cooked or raw and while it is most definitely a summer vegetable it is just as comfortable on a winter table. I don’t quite get it. I mean seriously? You can even eat the flowers. Now, it’s not as if the zucchini is some sort of “out there” esoteric vegetable. Quite the opposite. It is actually pretty common. It’s just that other than zucchini bread, for years it didn’t figure that high on my radar. And even then only if someone else made it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always eaten it and known it was good for me. It’s high in potassium, vitamin A and antioxidants. I have never disliked it, I have never quite understood how to use it so it’s not just one of those boring, good-for-you kind of vegetables.
Until last summer.
That was when thanks to the magic of a summer holiday, a recipe from one of my favourite cookbooks and a friend more well versed in the subtleties of squash than I, it happened. I fell in love with this humble little vegetable.
It started with a bag of fresh blossoms, and some just picked yellow and green zucchini.
It became a beautiful bowl of pasta with blossoms, fresh basil and cream (thank you yet again my my favourite cookbook Pasta ). That holiday brought with it many beautiful meals, many of which figured zucchini as a main ingredient. We stuffed some with leftover risotto, we put leftovers in eggs for breakfast and we added it to at least two other pasta dishes. It was that easy. I was hooked. Since then I’ve been making up for lost time and have experimented with salads, “pad thai”, tarts and of course, other pastas.
This summer I planted a full row of zucchini in the garden and I have a feeling next year I’ll add even more. I have lots of ideas for recipes but to celebrate my first crop I plan to go simple.
Garden Fresh Zucchini Pasta
Put some salted water on to boil. When boiling, add pasta of your choice (something curly that will grip the sauce works best). In the meantime saute some minced garlic and chopped sweet onion in a bit of olive oil. When soft, add some chopped zucchini, and tomato. Add a splash of white wine and cook gently until the noodles are cooked to your desired firmness. Drain the noodles, add the noodles and a tablespoon of the pasta water to the sauce. Add some goat cheese or freshly grated romano cheese and some freshly ground black pepper. Toss and serve.
The best part about simple fresh from the garden (or farmers market) meals like this is that there are no rules. Toss in some fresh herbs, add some black olives or chopped eggplant, change the cheese, use quinoa or rice instead of pasta. With fresh seasonal vegetables you don’t need to embellish. You just need to enjoy.