July 21, 2008

a zucchini after my own heart

So this is not the first time I need to give, ahem, MAD PROPS to Smitten Kitchen. All the same, I loved the simplicity of a recent post for zucchini strand spaghetti (which was adapted from a recipe by Michael Chiarello), and knew it was quick enough that I would not only attempt it but achieve a fair imitation.

Sure enough, I was not disappointed. And I didn't even keep with her suggested textures, substituting fusilli for the spaghetti; nor did I use fresh basil. (Geez, I'm starting to think I should rename this blog something like "Lowest Common Denominator Adaptations from the Pros.") Ah, well. Only some much time in the day and so much space in the tiny rental kitchen.

The best thing about this dish is that it reminded me that I don't necessarily need to douse my zucchini in olive oil and cook them on high heat until they're browned (though this also is tasty!) It came out light but still satisfying the way only fresh vegetables paired with pasta, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, a little heat, and some Parmesan can.

Zucchini Strand Pasta with Pesto
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, as adapted from Michael Chiarello

2 medium sized zucchini
1 lb pasta (I used wheat fusilli and loved it.)
1/4 c olive oil
4 cloves or 2 T garlic, minced
1/2 t red pepper flakes
3 T coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves, or 1 1/2 T basil pesto
pepper and kosher salt to taste
2-3 T grated Parmesan

1. Put your pasta water on to boil.

2. Prepare your zucchini. Cut off the very ends. Then you can julienne with a mandoline, but I don't have one (and quite frankly am afraid of them), so I sliced my zucchini into the smallest strands possible. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

3. Cook the pasta until it's al dente. This should take about 8 minutes for wheat and 10 for semonlina. If your zucchinis aren't teeny tiny, as mine were not, suspend the zucchini in a colander over the pasta pot for 2-3 minutes or until crispy-tender. When pasta is done, strain over a colander, reserving 1-2 T of the pasta water.

4. Heat the olive oil, brown the garlic, and add the red pepper. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until the garlic is golden brown. Add the pesto (or basil), mix well, and remove from the heat.

5. Combine and serve. Toss in a bowl or serving dish: pasta, reserved pasta water, zucchini, oil and pesto mixture, and about 2 T Parmesan. Serve warm and sprinkle with 2-3 t of Parmesan.

Mmmm. I kind of wish summer squash season lasted all year 'round. Then again, we probably have the longest growing season possible. Stay tuned for perhaps some fried zucchini blossoms.

Update: Yipes, speaking of blogging plagiarism and copyright issues (see Alosha's entry that started it all off), please note that the nice photo below is from Gourmet. Clicking it will take you to their recipe (similar to almost any you'll find) for fried squash blossoms.

For a nice straightforward recipe from Gourmet for fried zucchini blossoms, click the pretty picture below from Gourmet's website.

I do recommend you follow Marcella Hazan's directions to cut the blossoms so that their petals fan flat and open, like a lovely star, before frying.

(Unless you choose to stuff them with goat cheese, which I hear tell is an even more decadent approach to these.)


  1. Laugh out loud at the characterization LCD adaptations from the pros. I saw that zucchini strand spaghetti from smitten kitchen and I was in love. Glad to hear that the recipe works, even with the "adaptations."

    Looking forward to what you're going to do with the zucchini flowers.

  2. i bought about 10 zucchini plants at the beginning of the summer and they have failed me. (perhaps i have failed them...) i do have a few blossoms, though, so maybe i'll just fry 'em up and be done with it. :)

  3. i love your "lowest common denominator" crack. i do that a lot too - substitute with abandon, depending on what's around...

  4. Yum, that pasta looks to die for but those blossoms...yow-zer, I love them.

  5. Gorgeous! And I have a LOT of zucchini to deal with this week, thanks to my CSA!

  6. Hey Mindy! I just have to tell you, I loved the comment that you posted on Evil Chef Mom's site this afternoon. I just wrote a post about the blog community's reactions to the ATK incident, and I quote you because I think you verbalized a thought that we're all having. I hope that's cool. :)

    p.s. You are from Austin, therefore I love you!

  7. i'm glad you have given smitten kitchen mad props! snark, snark, snark!

  8. I'm going to have to try this. Great post and a lovely picture of the blossom. It pains me to see them in recipes and on menus at restaurants thinking of all the blossoms we let rot in our garden growing up in OK!

  9. You're in on Melissa's woes as well. I'm about to have troubles too, as I couldn't get an 18 year-old recipe but only the link. And I then gave modifications. Plus, to make a good day even better I was rejected from joining a food blog and the only requirement was that I had a valid food blog. I do, and they didn't even check it out.

    And our tire blew out coming out of the movie theatre after seeing Dark Knight.

    If you see a gal walking with an umbrella under sunny skies with one cloud raining, it's probably me today. Not tomorrow though. As Scarlett O'Hara said "tomorrow is another day."


  10. You can't go wrong with a Smitten recipe!
    Looks great!