ORIGINAL RECIPE: “Spaghetti with Zucchini and Basil,” from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison.*
TIMING: 30 minutes, or as long as it takes to boil water and cook pasta
TOOLS: Pots and pans, knives, nothing special
COOK TYPE: Stovetop (boiling and sauteing)
HEALTH: I do limit how much we have pasta, and I also limit how much pasta we have at one time. I think that having pasta once a week and eating it as accompaniment to something else, can be a part of a healthy diet. Then, of course, I buy good pasta (with very basic ingredients). Pasta makes a nice side in which to include your veggie, as well. So here is your grain and your vegetable, all in one.
EXPERIENCE: I had a bunch of basil that was wilting fast, so I knew it was today or never. I went to the recipe spreadsheet and searched for “basil,” and lo and behold, a recipe floated to the top with only a few ingredients, all of which I had in the pantry. The original recipe called for spaghetti, but I think that the small, snail-shell-like shapes we used were maybe a better pairing. Farfalle would also work.
There’s nothing much to say about this. I put on a pot of salted water to boil, I sauteed the veggies, I added in the sauce ingredients, and we had a nice accompaniment for our lemony, browned, and drunken chicken breast. I would recommend it as an easy side to throw together along with almost any neutral or Italian-inspired meat, in the summer when basil is exploding out everywhere.
- Bring a pot of salted water to boil. When it is ready, cook 8 ounces pasta until al dente.
- Meanwhile, heat 1/4 cup olive oil with 2 cloves thinly sliced garlic over low-medium heat in a wide skillet.
- Chop 2 medium zucchini into quarter-rounds and add to the pan as you go. Season with salt and pepper and saute slowly until zucchini has softened and browned on some sides. This may take 10 minutes or so.
- Stir in 1/2 cup cream and allow to simmer until sauce is thickened.
- When pasta is done cooking, drain and then add to the saute pan with a handful of basil chifonnade (cut into thin ribbons) and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. Taste for salt, pepper, and lemon.
Serve with a meat, like chicken, beef, or veal, cooked simply in a neutral or Italian style. For special meals, you will also want another vegetable, like an antipasto plate or a green salad.