Tag Archives: zucchini

Spring Vegetable Pasta

Sometimes dinner at my house is a game of what do I have in the fridge, and how much longer will it really last?  Things with major staying power get to stick around for Wednesday/Thursday night’s dinner.

This meal came out of that game.  I had fresh spring peas, two green zucchini, a chunk of parmigiana that was all, “Carly, eat me, a little bite… I’m so good,”  and some fresh basil.  All of that would be perfectly delectable with pre-made arugula and ricotta filled ravioli.

Spring Vegetable Pasta Ingredients

  • A splash of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • One large onion, chopped into thin rings
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 zucchini, shredded into ribbons
  • 1/2 cup of fresh (or frozen) spring peas
  • Splash of vegetable broth (about 1/4 – 1/2 cup depending on your sauce preferences)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • a sprinkle of red pepper flakes (pepperoncino)
  • a sprinkle (or a handful) of parmigiana cheese
  • your favorite pasta

First prepare the zucchini, this is the most time consuming element so you might as well get it out of the way early.  Chop the head and “butt” of the zucchini off and with a fruit peeler peel down the length of the zucchini revealing thin strips the width of the vegetable.  Set aside.

In a large sauce pan add a swirl of the olive oil and then add the onions.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper here, and over medium/low heat let the onion soften and sweat.

(At this point put water in a separate pot to boil and follow instructions.)

Add the garlic and when that spicy, fragrant aroma fills the air – is that not the best smell? – add the zucchini.  At this point you can give the onions and zucchini a good stir, pour in the vegetable stock and cover.

When the zucchini ribbons are softer but not soggy add the peas and again give this some good stirs so that the flavors are all fully incorporated.

When plating this healthy and quick to make dinner give the vegetables one more quick drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of red pepper and cheese.


Roasted Vegetable Sauce for an Easy Weeknight

Weeknight dinners are always a little bit tricky; I want something healthy, good tasting, fairly quick and comforting.  So last night was an opportunity for some easy, hearty and full of vegetables sauce.

Roasted Vegetable Sauce
2 cups Chopped Cherry Tomatoes
2 medium Zucchini
1 medium Eggplant
Salt and Pepper
Dash of Olive Oil
Splash of Balsamic Vinegar
1 tbsp Skim Ricotta Cheee

**I really like zucchini and eggplant and so we nearly always have some variety on hand.  If you are not a fan of one you could always do without or swap in a different vegetable.  If you don’t like either you’ll just be eating tomatoes and cheese, which come to think of it isn’t so bad either.

 Chop the zucchini and eggplant into rounds about a centimeter thick.  Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise, and then cut the eggplant into smaller chunks.  Combine the chopped zucchini and eggplant with the chopped tomatoes in a large bowl.  Add to the bowl a drizzle of olive oil, a splash of vinegar, salt, pepper, and some diced garlic.  Mix all of this up, so that flecks of oil and vinegar touch everything.

On a cookie sheet lay out a piece of parchment paper and pour out all of the vegetables.  Place the sheet in a 400 degree oven for 35 minutes.  If by chance the OnDemand Yoga video, or self applied manicure is taking longer, you can let these roast for up to 45 minutes – you just don’t want the vegetables to be burned.

On the stove top set up a large sauce pan with some olive oil, chopped onion, garlic and basil over low heat.  At the same time start boiling water for your pasta. 

Now, I need to share a secret with you.  I rarely keep fresh garlic on hand at home.  This is probably shocking but in our old apartment we’d have heads of garlic and we’d lose them, and then they’d dry out and it was a waste.  Then we discovered the frozen crushed garlic and basil at Trader Joe’s.  They are perfect in a pinch, and hopefully there is a Trader Joe’s somewhere within reach.  To my Florida readers; perhaps I’ll bring you some on the next visit!

When the onions are translucent add the roasted vegetables to the saucepan.  Pour in two ladles of pasta water, and stir vigorously.  

You can keep it chunky, and stop here.  I wanted a more saucy sauce so I used my immersion blender for a few quick pulses and then added a spoonful of ricotta cheese for an smoother taste.  I paired this with a favorite pasta in the pantry, but I think I would also love this on crusty, warm bread as a bruschetta topping, or as a dip with pita.  The whole prep from beginning to end took about 45 minutes; and the bulk of that was inactive cooking time while the vegetables were roasting.  Not too bad for a healthy, well balanced dinner, ever better for a weeknight!

Buon Appetito!

Zucchini in bloom?

I like my vegetables, but I by no means have a green thumb.  Prior to shopping more frequently at farmer’s markets I was fairly accustomed to seeing my produce displayed at Whole Foods, wrapped in plastic, or dare I say it in the frozen foods aisle.  Yikes!  

Anyway, the joy of the market is getting to see all parts of the produce at their peak.  Let me introduce you to the part of the zucchini most people never meet: 
Image by Galina Stepanoff-Dargery, via Virtual Gourmet
I’ve always heard of these prepared battered and fried (like a very delicate onion ring) or stuffed with a ricotta based filling.  After walking the Bloomingdale Farmer’s Market with my Italian born mother-in-law we brainstormed on how to best use these little flowers.  She made a risotto, and I made up my own, crispy, light recipe – and if you can still find these guys, it’s worth taking 10 minutes to make.

First you have to rinse and dry the flowers, and remove the pistil.  I am sure there is anatomy lesson somewhere here, but I am not going to bother.  Basically picture the flower like the colored Christmas lights – you are going to cut off what on the light is the black part and pull out the bulb (or the pistil).  If this analogy hasn’t confused you enough onto step 2.

The ingredients for this impromptu experiment could not be more simple.
I was trying to keep it light so I splashed some Extra Virgin Olive Oil and then dipped in a mix of Italian bread crumbs, Parmigiano-Reggiano, salt and pepper.  
Then I put the lightly coated flowers in a shallow pan with olive oil over medium heat.  I really just aimed to brown them slightly and crisp them up.  Because I did not use a traditional batter, when they were “done” was more of a personal estimation.
When they were all done I patted them with paper towels to remove any excess oil and sprinkled on freshly grated cheese.  Again, bread crumbs, oil and cheese are hard to screw up so any extra cheese just means it’s extra amazing.

And, what do you know – all gone!

The zucchini flowers probably taste more authentic when eaten on an authentic Deruta table, special thanks to my mother-in-law again!