Sunday, July 5, 2009

Tuscan Zucchini Pasta

Last April, while Hubby and I were in Italy we, and his Mum, took a cooking class. We learned a few recipes, but our favorite remains this zucchini dish, which 15 months later we still make about once a week!
It has changed quite a bit for us: I add the garlic later or it tends to burn. Also, I add ricotta and the starchy pasta cooking water. I can’t usually get my hands on ricotta salada, so I skip it or sometimes, if I’m feeling particularly decadent, I add a soft goat cheese. This gives it a sour but pleasantly complex flavor.

Our Tuscan Zuchini Pasta was inspired by a dish we learned from The della Donna Company, entitled “Pasta Sicialiana con le Zucchine”. Our instructor was a Mississipi native living in Tuscany at Castello di Poppiano, a twelfth centry castle, converted by Ikea magic into a modern kitchen complete with a wood-burning hearth. I went back to look at the recipe today, and was flooded with memories of the sweet garden Elaine had and the wonderful lesson she gave us. Over time, we have made Pasta Siciliana con le Zucchine our own, and dubbed it Tuscan Zuchhini Pasta—not nearly as elegant sounding but makes us smile every time to remember that night and the amazing smells and tastes. Not to mention the delicious wine!

Tuscan Zucchini Pasta

Serves 2 as main course, 4 as a side dish.

8 oz air dried pasta

(WARNING! You will want to save some cooking water before dumping the pasta!) Cook according to package directions, until al dente.

2 medium zucchini: sliced thinly

3 cloves garlic, minced

Red pepper flakes, a pinch (more if you like spicy, probably 1/8 – ¼ tsp)

Big pinch of salt

Coat a sauté pan with olive oil at medium-high heat. Add the zucchini, salt and red pepper flakes and coat in the oil. Leave undisturbed 2-3 minutes. When it begins to caramelize (turning brown), add the garlic. Turn heat to medium. Cook until zucchini is caramelized but before garlic burns.

2 Tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Stir in the parsley, turn off the heat. Set aside.

Reserve 1 c pasta water, drain the pasta (REMEMBER TO SAVE ABOUT 1 CUP OF COOKING WATER!). Do not rinse, do not coat in olive oil (there is plenty in the sauce).


Put the pasta back in the cooking pot. Add…

¼ cup goat cheese, feta, or ricotta salada

¼ cup ricotta

Zucchini mixture

Stir together, adding reserved pasta water as needed just to melt the cheeses and make a creamy sauce. May not use all the water.


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