I’m not the world’s biggest zucchini fan. It’s fine: I like it in bread, I guess I like it in a salad. Maybe on a pizza?
But there’s one recipe from my archives that really made zucchini come alive for me. That’s this side dish of Zucchini with Almonds from The Red Cat in New York. Here’s what you do: you sauté slivered almonds in olive oil and just as they start to get toasty you add a bunch of sliced zucchini. Add a big pinch of salt, toss all around, and serve right away with a squeeze of lemon.
I’m not sure why this technique works so well: maybe because the toasting of the nuts adds a smokiness and a depth to the otherwise bland zucchini? Also, the technique keeps the zucchini from becoming soggy and wet: you do everything quickly so there’s still that vegetal snap.
The other night, I had a few zucchini in the fridge from the farmer’s market and I was trying to come up with a dinner that would feature them. Then I had an idea: “I have an idea!” I said, to no one in particular. “I’m going to turn that zucchini and almond side dish into a pasta!”
Here’s how I did that: I did the thing with the zucchini and almonds. To repeat: you pour some olive oil into a skillet. You heat it and then add a bunch of sliced almonds, as many as you’d like. Add some salt, toss all around, and just as they start to get toasty, add a bunch of sliced zucchini (about three zucchinis worth). Toss around with more salt and cook until everything is nicely combined and the almonds are brown and not burnt. Remove to a bowl.
Then it’s just a matter of cooking some pasta. I chose bow-tie because I was feeling formal (haha). No, I chose it because I though it would play nicely with the zucchini and the almonds.
So just salt a big pot of water, boil your pasta until it’s cooked to your liking (but make that al dente) and stir it in with the zucchini and almonds and adjust with more salt and LEMON JUICE and some Parmesan and any herbs you have lying around. I used dill.
If I teach you anything at all on this here blog, let it be this: there’s no such thing as a bad pasta recipe because you can ALWAYS adjust it at the end. If you don’t like the taste, add more salt, more lemon juice, more Parmesan. You could literally put salt, lemon juice, and Parmesan on styrofoam and make it taste good, so really it’s up to you here.
But this was no styrofoam supper: this actually was a real winner.
So learn to love zucchini and make this before summer’s over. I did and I’m a better man for it.