September 10, 2009

Zucchini Zucchini!

September in northern New England is bringing us nice sunny days and fall-ish cooler nights. It is also bringing us an abundance of the versatile zucchini fresh from local gardens. A friend recently gave me some zucchini from her garden along with some fresh herbs and I proceeded to make good use of this bounty in a pasta dish ripe with the flavors of garlic, tomato, fresh oregano and African blue basil, and of course zucchini. From Wikipedia: "In a culinary context, zucchini is treated as a vegetable, which means it is usually cooked and presented as a savory dish or accompaniment. Botanically, however, the zucchini is an immature fruit, being the swollen ovary of the female zucchini flower." A low calorie food, zucchini is also nutritious containing folate, potassium, Vitamin A, and manganese. Zucchini can be grilled, sauteed with other vegetables, cooked in soups and just adds an interesting texture and flavor to whatever it accompanies. The contrast between the al dente pasta and the zucchini in this recipe is perfect - I hope you enjoy it as well.

Ratatouille on pasta:

3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small onion, cut
1 14 oz can whole tomatoes (coarsely chop all but 2 of the tomatoes, food process the last two with juice to a coarse puree)
1 medium zucchini, sliced in thin coins
2 T fresh basil, chopped
2 T fresh oregano, chopped
coarse ground pepper
sea salt
extra virgin olive oil
3/4 lb. thin spaghetti (I use Barilla Plus - a healthy whole grain pasta)
Grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Heat 1/4 c. olive oil on medium heat in a large saute pan. Add garlic and onions and saute for about 5 minutes. Add chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, zucchini, pepper and salt to taste (I use about 1 t. of each), stir up and cover - simmering on medium heat. Continue checking in and stirring every 5 mins. or so - zucchini will get soft and translucent. At this point, add the fresh basil and oregano, stir up and simmer another 5-10 mins. on medium low heat. Assuming you have boiled the pasta by now, transfer the cooked spaghetti into the veggie/sauce mix a little at a time, using large tongs to mix. You should be able to use all the pasta in this recipe and still have a good mixture of pasta to vegetables/sauce. Use tongs to plate the dish, fine grate fresh parmesan on top. Bon appetit!

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