Mediterranean Monday: Pasta with Zucchini and Pine Nuts
Everyone I know in Canada that has a vegetable garden, grows Zucchini. And every year, each and every one of them will ask me: do you want some? I have soooo much!
Despite their prevalence in Canadian vegetable gardens, I have always thought that the Zucchini played an even bigger role in Italian cuisine. Wikipedia confirms my suspicions: “Zucchini, like all squash, has its ancestry in the Americas. However, the varieties of squash typically called “zucchini” were developed in Italy, many generations after their introduction from the “New World”. In all probability, this occurred in the very late 19th century, probably near Milan; early varieties usually included the names of nearby cities in their names.” And if you wanted any more evidence, the word Zucchini is Italian and comes from Zucca or squash.
However, this “ignorant” vegetable – as Italians affectionately call it, must be cooked and seasoned just right or it has no taste whatsoever. So today’s Mediterranean Monday recipe is delicious way to use up your garden Zucchini or your neighbours… Pasta with Zucchini and Pine Nuts.
Ingredients for 4 servings
- 400 grams of fusilli pasta or similar
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup of pine nuts
- 2 garlic cloves whole
- 4 to 6 smaller zucchini
- pinch of sea salt
- pinch of fresh ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup of grated parmigiano reggiano or pecorino
In a small pan on the stove top or in the oven – toast the pine nuts until the are just golden.
Cook pasta according to the package instructions in a large pot of boiling salted water.
While the pasta is cooking, thinly slice the zucchini (as in the photo) using your food processor or the wide slot on your grater. In a large pan on the stove heat EVOO with the garlic, add sliced zucchini and saute until zucchini is very soft, translucent and turning golden. Season with salt and pepper according to taste.
Once the pasta is ready, toss it into the pan with the zucchini and add another couple of shots of EVOO. Fusilli is the perfect pasta for this dish because the Zucchini cling well to it and get stuck (in a good way) among the ridges. Add the pine nuts and toss until the Zucchini and nuts are well-distributed. Hunt for those 2 garlic cloves and remove them.
Top with the grated cheese and serve “family style” from the pan. Easy breezy, dinner is ready in 20 minutes and you have used up at least a few of those darn Zucchini!
My favourite olive oil for this dish is the Umbrian Canale 53 from Ranchino but any medium intensity oil would work wonderfully.