02 September 2011

Pesto zucchini noodles with tiny tomatoes

Welcome back!  Here we are, day two of the Eat Local Challenge, and we've already run into a major road block.


Mine is  boy who cannot live with a bowl of pasta. (Truth be told, neither can I.) And so to keep it local, we had to move a little outside of the boxed semolina.

I've been reading about zucchini pasta in books and on blogs for ages, but I've never attempted it for a few reasons.
One:  I really don't like zucchini.  (true fact, but keep reading. There's hope.)
Two: It seemed really complicated to make.  Annoyingly complicated. Time-suckingly complicated.
Three: Why on earth would I trade delicious pasta for a lackluster & annoyingly nutritious alternative?

Why, to keep it local, of course!

Well. I was, as you might imagine, totally wrong about zucchini pasta.  It takes only slightly more time than boiling water/noodles and you can feel absolutely righteous to have found a way to convince people like me that zucchini is, in fact, not a depressing waste of growing space. It's also a perfect way to use those mutant zucchinis that grow as big as your arm.

Here's what you need to do.

Zucchini Noodles

Wash and pare your zucchini.  I suppose if you have a lot of spare time you can peel it too, but I rather like the green edges. Slice thinly lengthwise, and then stack the slices to cut lengthwise again. The thinner you get it, the more deceptively pasta-like it will be.

(A mandoline will be helpful if you're as much of a perfectionist as I am. I really wanted my pasta to LOOK like pasta.)

I used a zucchini as big as my forearm (I'm a petite lady, but not quite a dwarf) and it produced enough to feed two hungry people.

Bring a pot of water to a boil, and salt well.  Drop your strands into the rapidly boiling water and stir.  After a minute, quickly drain and rinse in cold water to stop them from cooking further.

I decided (based on the strengths of my own garden this year, and the ridiculous ninety degree weather) to  whip up a simple cold pesto (with great handfuls of home grown basil, several tiny cloves of garlic, sunflower oil and local cheese, thank you!) and toss the noodles with the juiciest tiny tomatoes I could find.

It was  Herby. Acidic.  Refreshing. Green. and far more delicious than I could have anticipated.

Jack was skeptical at first, but easily won over by the slickly tender green noodles and brightly tart tomatoes.

And I hate to admit I was wrong, but I can really see myself going out of my way to surround myself with zucchinis in my future. I'm dreaming of creamy ricotta, chard, garlic and spices sandwiched between lasagna-like layers. Manicotti-like bundles of oozing cheeses and spicy sausages. Whispers of angel hair tossed with wine, shrimp and a handful of fresh herbs.  Ok, Zucchini.  You win this time.

Speaking of winning, every ingredient used today was sourced either directly from my garden or within fifty miles of my home. I hate to brag, but I'm feeling pretty confident about the challenge!

Mary Catherine

1 comment:

  1. I *love* zucchini noodles! This looks fantastic. Great job on all the local ingredients, too!