I’m not sure if this was true of all Italian families, but when I was young, my mother had a routine for what she made for dinner each night of the week. As a mater of fact, this was true of all my relatives as well. For instance, if I ate at a cousin’s house on a Tuesday night, I knew it would be pasta with vegetables of some sort. Sunday was red sauce and meat (I know you already know this about me); Monday was soup (not usually in my house, however) or greens of some type with beans; Tuesday was pasta with a vegetable; Wednesday was meat or chicken; Thursday was pasta again; Friday was fish or if we were lucky, homemade pizza; and Saturday was a real treat of pizza from a pizzeria or White Castle hamburgers because my parents always went out to dinner on Saturday nights. As I got older, and our family became a bit more “Americanized,” this changed a bit, but it never deviated radically. It was never boring in my house. My mother’s repertoire was quite vast. I’m sure you all know that there are thousands of ways to prepare pasta, and my mother loved to try new recipes for chicken and meat all the time. But there was something reassuring in knowing what you might expect for dinner each night. We all had our favorites, and we all didn’t like some things, but what was on the table was what you ate for dinner. An exemption or two was made for my brother now and then ( you do know that Italian mothers spoil their sons, right??) ) as he was the pickiest eater in the family.
This dish of spaghetti with zucchini was definitely one of my favorites. It showed up often in my mother’s selection of “during the week” pasta recipes, so I was happy. If it didn’t, I knew I could invite myself to my Aunt Rose’s house on a Tuesday or Thursday, and sure enough she would probably be serving this. In the very economically lean years of my first marriage, I made this at least once a week. I think that I perhaps I over-did it, and so I put this recipe to rest for many years. But once I brought it out of the archives again, I have been making it a lot. It couldn’t be easier, and it is so light and delicious. I hope you’ll give it a try, and it doesn’t have to be on a Tuesday or Thursday. It’s delicious any day of the week!
And as an added bonus, the zucchini alone is delicious as a side dish, alongside any meat or fish. AND I always take out a little bit to put in my scrambled eggs the next morning. Yummy!!
4-6 medium sized zucchini (I like to mix the yellow and green squash, but all green works well also). About 2 lbs.
2 TBSP butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated Italian cheese, either Parmigiano or Pecorino.
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 pound of spaghetti
Lots of freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Wash and cut the zucchini into roughly half inch pieces. I generally cut the zucchini in quarters lengthwise and then slice.
2. Put the butter and olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven, and heat so the butter melts. Add the zucchini, and salt and cover.
3. Cook on a low heat for approximately 15 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally to make sure there is enough liquid in the pot.
4. Add half the grated cheese and cover again and cook on low for 3 to 5 minutes.
5. When done, turn off the heat and add the rest of the cheese. Add lots of freshly ground pepper. Give a good stir.
6. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a large pot of salted water. Drain.
7. Put the spaghetti in a large bowl. *Sometimes I toss the pasta with a little olive oil first. Top with the zucchini and mix well. Add a little more cheese and serve. If you are a cheese lover like I am, you may want a little more grated cheese.