Eating zucchini or, how to eat in season without chomping on sunflower sprouts
Not there’s anything bad about sprouts. But sometimes an eater wants to skip over the raw kale salad and vinegar slaw and eat some comfort food, even if IS summer and the bounty is plentiful!
Here’s how to do it:
Take a non ginormous zucchini or two, plop in a bowl of water to soak (Marcella’s technique for loosening ground sitting vegetable from its soil), boil some pasta, chop a bit of onion and sauté it in butter, add zucchini which you have cut into julienne, pour in some pasta water to reduce, add cream and saffron and reduce again. That’s it!
When your pasta — I recommend fettucine — is done, serve under cream sauce and add grated parmesan. I think I can skip the ice cream on this night. I had my cream in savory form, thanks!
1/4 # fettucini
4 T chopped onion
1-2 small zucchinis, cut into julienne strips, 1-1/2” by 1/4”
1 c heavy cream
Spring variation: substitute asparagus for zucchini; steam it ahead before cutting into 1-1/2” lengths before sautéing as above.
If you purchase good anchovies in a jar, you will have a very good pantry ingredient. Lasts in your refrigerator for longer than you will remember. With a jar in your refrigerator, you are not more than 20 minutes from eating a very delicious, deceptively simple bowl of pasta. And before you read it and think: “meh,” I am here to attest that the sum turns out to be much greater than its parts. The parts are: good olive oil, lots of garlic, anchovies, red pepper flakes and if ya got ’em, walnuts. And spaghetti or linguine.
Ingredients (for two people) (Psst you will need to eat this with someone who already loves you, since you will both end up with garlic/anchovy breath. Your cat will find you very interesting.) Here goes:
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
good pinch red pepper flakes
3 anchovies, with their oil, from a jar
walnuts, 1/3 c. toasted
- Put up a large pot of water to boil for the spaghetti. When it comes to a boil, add a good amount of kosher salt.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and toast the walnuts for about 8 minutes, until they give off a nice aroma. Set aside to cool, and later break up into smaller pieces.
- Mince garlic. Heat olive oil gently in small sauté pan, and add garlic and red pepper flakes.
- Heat gently, stirring, adding anchovies. Do not let garlic get too dark or burnt. Add salt and pepper, walnuts and parsley. Set aside.
- Cook spaghetti. When almost done, warm olive oil mixture.
- Drain pasta, reserving a ladle or two of cooking water.
- Dump drained spaghetti into pan, turning off heat, and toss to coat. You can add more olive oil if it seems to dry, or for fewer calories (though less flavor), you can add some of the reserved pasta water.
Steam a good couple handfuls of spinach with salt. Add to oil/walnut mixture (omit parsley) and stir around.
Remember how I said/wrote that simple cooking can be very delicious? Or that delicious, nutritious home-cooking can be simple? Either/any way, I’m here to tell you to make this tomato sauce the next time you don’t feel like cooking. All it takes is a couple minutes in the kitchen — half of that is time spent with a can opener, and the other half cutting one onion in half. That’s it. Okay, peeling the onion too. But put this in a pot on your stove, leave the kitchen and do something else for 35 minutes, and you will have a home-cooked meal you will be happy to call dinner.
This is an adaptation of Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter.
1 can Italian plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano — 28 oz
1 large onion, cut in half and peeled
3.8 oz butter (7-1/2 T)
Parmesan cheese, for topping a la table
- Open can. Put tomatoes into large-ish sauce pot (so that simmering sauce does not sputter over). I like to tear up tomatoes (and frankly, discard core/blossom end that is hard) as you put them into pot. Pour any juice from can into pot.
- Cut ends off onion, and cut in half. I do it lengthwise. (I might try width-wise next to see if it prevents the onion from falling apart and having to fish around for it to remove at end.) Put into pot with tomatoes.
- Weigh out or measure butter and put into pot with a couple pinches of salt (assuming your butter is unsalted as it always should be in my world).
- Turn heat on to medium, bring to a simmer, lower heat, and simmer gently for 45 minutes or until “fat floats free from the tomato.” (Whatever that means!)
- Put water into large pot for pasta. Penne and spaghetti are good here. I like the penne rigate, with ridges to catch the sauce.
- Cook pasta at end of sauce-cooking time. Drain and serve under reasonable amount of sauce. Grate on cheese.
Enjoy! Manga! Basta pasta!