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The Vegetable Diaries: Zucchini Two Times, One Way

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The Vegetable Diaries: Zucchini Two Times, One Way

Mallory Stuchin

Stripped zucchini salad

I have a tendency to repeat myself.

I have a tendency to repeat myself. Sometimes I just can’t help it.

If I’m telling a story that I find particularly hilarious (which happens constantly), I will continue to share that bit with every person I meet. This extends to friends, family, doctors, cab drivers, restaurant servers… you get the picture. Sure, you could say I like to talk. But the alternative option of constantly biting my tongue so as not to tell the same tale twice seems unappealing. Plus I imagine it would result in very swollen taste buds.

Of course, in the kitchen, repetition is not always a bad thing. How often have you eaten a great meal and said, "Oh, that was so good! I could eat it everyday and not get sick of it!" While you are likely lying to yourself here, it’s always a pleasure to relish in your favorites, however often that may be.

At this time of year, I can’t eat enough zucchini. I know, not exactly the barbeque chicken or rhubarb pie that immediately ring of spring. But give me the tart and sweet glory of a grilled (or roasted, sautéed, fried or raw) zucchini with a little olive oil and a bit of lemon and I might actually stop talking for a few seconds. Add a bit of freshly grated Parmigiano and a sprinkle of pine nuts and I’ll give you a solid seven minutes of silence. Or at least as long as it takes me to finish chewing.

The following two recipes are essentially the same. The main difference obviously being that one contains pasta and the other does not. Duh. However, the difference between the cooked silky stands that complement spaghetti and the raw, crunchy strips by themselves is significant. Either way, both zucchini options offer the same high levels of Vitamins A and C and a decent amount of fiber. Zucchini has also been shown to act as a strong anti-inflammatory agent, which is a nice bonus in these warmer months.

While the pasta dish could certainly be served hot, I often prefer it at room temperature, so feel free to make it earlier in the day and let it sit for a while. If it seems dry when you’re ready to eat it, add an additional splash or olive oil or a squeeze of lemon. The stripped zucchini, on the other hand, is best served cold. I like to organize my ingredients at the beginning of the meal and then compose the dish immediately before serving so as not to diminish the zucchini’s crispness. 

So, with pasta or without? Try them both and tell us in the comments section which one you like better. And then tell your friends and your family and your cab drivers and…


The Recipes:
I used whole wheat spaghetti in this variation because it is low in sodium and high in fiber. It is also what I had in my kitchen. Feel free to use whatever kind of pasta you like. I also used Parmigiano-Reggiano but Pecorino Romano is a cost efficient alternative and would work just as well.


Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Zucchini, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pine Nuts

Ingredients
1 pound spaghetti, cooked al dente
2 medium zucchini, sliced on a mandolin or with a vegetable peeler
4 clove of garlic, chopped
½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup of pine nuts, toasted
salt and pepper to taste


Directions

  • Heat your oven to 375 degrees. Arrange pine nuts on a baking sheet and toast until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Watch them closely as pine nuts burn very quickly and may take less time depending on the heat of your oven.
  • Boil 4 to 6 quarts of well-salted water and cook pasta until al dente. Drain pasta but reserve some of the cooking water for your sauce.
  • While the pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant and tender. Add zucchini, salt and pepper and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes. Add cooked pasta and Parmigiano to the pan and toss to coat in oil, garlic and zucchini. Adjust seasonings and top with pine nuts.
  • Plate and serve immediately or at room temperature.
     

Stripped Zucchini Salad with Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pine Nuts and Lemon

Ingredients

2 medium zucchini, sliced on a mandolin or with a vegetable peeler
1 lemon, juiced
¼ cup Parmigiano, freshly grated
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
1 1/2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil (or more as needed)
¼ tsp salt and a few turns of pepper


Directions

  • Heat your oven to 375 degrees. Arrange pine nuts on a baking sheet and toast until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Watch them closely as pine nuts burn very quickly and may take less time depending on the heat of your oven.
  • In a large, non-reactive bowl, toss zucchini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Adjust seasonings.
  • Arrange zucchini on a plate and top with Parmigiano-Reggiano and pine nuts. Serve.
     


Mallory Stuchin is a Natural Foods Chef and a Vegetable Butcher at Eataly. She also studied Ashtanga Yoga in Mysore, India and has taught classes at PURE Yoga and New York University. Her work has previously been featured in The New York Observer, Glamour and Maxim.

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