I know that I already have posted several recipes for pasta with zucchini, but it’s that zucchini time of year here in New Jersey, so I find myself constantly trying to figure out new ways to prepare them. Of course my mind is always drawn to the idea of putting whatever it might be on top of pasta. Generally, you can’t go wrong with this decision. So while I was daydreaming about the situation, I recalled the many times I’ve had a pasta dish with zucchini while traveling through Italy. This is especially true of southern Italy, where it is quite popular due to the abundance of zucchini growing everywhere. I went to several of my cookbooks on Southern Italian cuisine, and came upon a very interesting finding. There is always a very pungent or smoked cheese added to the dish. I couldn’t quite understand this combination. Why add such a heavy taste to such light ingredients, but I’m game to try almost anything when it comes to pasta. So I added a smoked gouda, to what was basically the same recipe I grew up with and have made for years, and was pleasantly surprised. I felt like I was back in Positano, dining at Da Vincenzo’s. The addition of smoked cheese is what makes this recipe different from any other I have made. This is why I love to cook so much. There is always something new to learn. I thrilled the family with this recipe, and that too, always makes me happy.
So if you’ve been staring at some zucchini lately, and wondering what the heck to do with them, have I got the recipe for you!
RECIPE: Serves 4
1 pound pasta, penne or rigatoni
2 to 2 1/2 pounds zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch discs
1/4 to 1/3 pound smoked gouda, smoked mozzarella or provolone, chopped into small chunks
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano cheese
4 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves thinly sliced
8 to 10 large basil leaves (torn…never cut)
1. PLace the sliced zucchini in a colander or bowl and sprinkle with a little sea salt. Let thm sit for 5 to 10 minutes , to drain some of the water from the zucchini.
2. Add the olive oil and the sliced garlic to a large non-stick skillet. Cook over a low flame until golden brown.
3. Add the zucchini, a pinch of salt and the torn basil to the oil and stir.
4. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, then take the cover off and cook for another 5 minutes, or until zucchini start to soften.
5. Cook the pasta in salted water until al dente, and then drain.
6. Add the pasta to the pan with the zucchini. Stir all the ingredients well and continue to cook over a low flame for a few additional minutes.
7. Add the chunks of cheese and half of the Parmigiano at the very end and stir well to combine.
8. Remove from the heat, plate and serve with the remaining Parmigiano cheese.