Everyday it seems there is a mysterious bag, basket or pile of zucchini by my door. These things must multiply like rabbits. Last year, it seemed like I was chomping down on zucchini blossoms daily. Bundles of fully formed zucchini didn’t appear because we were all to busy frying up the flowers – remember this post: Fried Squash Blossoms
This year, I didn’t get invited to imbibe as much in my favorite fried flower. Now I know why. People let the blossoms grow into long green meaty vegetables. But what is a woman to do with them? I can’t say no thank you – half the time I don’t know where they come from and the other half – well it would just be rude. I remember making tons of zucchini bread in Flagtown but we’re in Italy – so it is time to start finding out what the elders do.
Zia Paulina taught me how do make a simple zucchini topping for pasta. Actually, she tortured me with a little knife by insisting that I cut paper thin zucchini slices without using a cutting board, mandoline slicer or food processor. None of my slices were thin enough – come carta – like paper! When I finally got the thinness just right she was pleased. Then I watched her dump some olive oil in a frying pan, sauté the zucchini slices and toss them with pasta and a healthy dose of parmigiana. Prima piatta was finished.
I decided to see if anyone else tossed zucchini with pasta – a quick web search found lots of recipes. Being an independent type, I ignored all the advice and just followed my instinct – the pinch of this, a handful and there you go style of cooking. The first step was to create the paper thin slices that really worked in Zia Paulina’s dish.
My smart ass husband watched me get closer and closer to lopping off a finger and he decided to show me how to get those paper thin slices. First he took out the potato peeler and peeled the skin off one cucumber. Then he cut it in half and started making short thin slices with the peeler.
Jack’s system would absolutely work. But I wanted the zucchini – which I know had absolutely no yucky chemical crap on them – to have that cute green trim. White zucchini against white pasta couldn’t look very appealing. So I finished up the rest using the potato peeler on unpeeled zucchini.
The actual cooking of the dish was much simpler. I sliced up some onions and a red pepper. Why the red pepper? Because I had it and I liked the color – back to white pasta and white onions and white zucchini – you get the idea. The olive oil that we have here is literally from the trees in our yard and pressed locally. It is heaven on the tongue all by itself. It really helps to use good olive oil for dishes like these. While the water for the pasta was getting up to boil, I quickly sautéed the onions and peppers.
Salt, pepper, a touch of garlic powder – I noticed that none of my Italian relatives cook with onions and garlic in the same dish. Loving garlic anyway I can get it, I tossed in the garlic powder. When I added the zucchini, I happened to look out the window at the basil growing madly and thought – why not. The basil added at the end gave the dish more color and a little zing. Here is the final product – I added grated cheese to the dishes before I tossed them. Buon appetito!