Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Going Overboard

It's becoming slightly overwhelming in my kitchen. My CSA has finally picked up speed and started providing me with a greater variety and quantity of vegetables than I know what to do with in the short span of their lives. I always mocked CSA subscribers who claimed their food went to waste because their supply was just that large. From the looks of my first few weeks worth of produce I thought, "They must be crazy! I have a full share, enough for an entire family of four, and I'm eating my way through it in three days!" Granted, that mostly speaks to my gargantuan eating habits, but I truly thought that those who were overwhelmed just didn't have much food knowledge. Well, consider me an overwhelmed unknowledgeable dope, as this week I found myself with a fridge full of green tomatoes, summer squash, eggplant, a double dose of carrots, fava beans, fennel and baby greens, not mention a few leftovers from the previous weeks that included garlic scapes, green garlic and bulb onions. I really hate using food for the sake of using it, but eventually I'll have to learn to do so in order for it all not to go to waste.

I don't really spend every single night cooking at home like I used to, so I need to get used to the idea that maybe every dish I make isn't a post-able recipe waiting to happen; maybe it's just a simple delicious dinner (hence my less frequent posts). But before coming to terms with that idea, I made use of my summer squash/zucchini in a lovely recipe from Bon Appétit that utilized zucchini ribbons. I'd been wanting to use this technique for some time, and this recipe seemed like a good start. It folded the raw ribbons into cooked fettuccine along with chopped walnuts, extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil and mint. It's practically a no cook recipe and great for hot summer days and nights. The only thing that needs cooking is the pasta since everything else is placed at the bottom of a bowl and tossed and cooked with the heat of the pasta. This is also a great intro-to-anchovies dish, since you don't pick out their flavor at all in the finished dish.

The prep is pretty simple, the most difficult part being making the ribbons, which you can do easily (as I did), with your average, run of the mill vegetable peeler. If you're lucky enough to have a mandolin, you can put that to work as well (and know that I'm jealous). The garlic and anchovies are both minced or mashed in a mortar and pestle and placed at the bottom of a large bowl with red pepper flake. Then the pasta and cheese are tossed in, followed by the zucchini ribbons and walnuts. Everything is tossed together in the bowl with good olive oil and reserved pasta water and poof, you're done. I changed the order and quantities a bit from the original recipe since I don't love mint. I also didn't think there was enough garlic or anchovies for the amount of pasta, so I basically doubled it, which worked out well. In fact, if you want to pack a real flavor punch, I'd add even more of both (I think I will for future meals). In the meantime, here's the recipe with my changes.

Fettuccine with Zucchini Ribbons and Walnuts
adapted from Bon Appétit

2 1/2 lbs small zucchini, cut into ribbons with vegetable peeler
1 tsp coarse kosher salt
4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
4 anchovy fillets, minced
1/2 tsp dried crushed red pepper
1 pound fettuccine
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for serving
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup (packed) thinly sliced fresh basil
1 tsp chopped fresh mint

1. Place zucchini ribbons in large colander set over large bowl; sprinkle with salt. Let stand 30 minutes. Rinse zucchini under cold running water; drain well. Spread on 2 large kitchen towels; roll up in towels to absorb excess water. Set aside.

2. Combine garlic, anchovy fillets, and crushed red pepper in very large serving bowl.

3. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Transfer pasta to bowl with garlic mixture. Add olive oiloil and 1/4 cup reserved cooking liquid; toss. Add zucchini, walnuts, cheese, basil, and mint; toss. Season with salt and pepper, adding more pasta cooking liquid if mixture is dry or drizzle with additional oil. Enjoy!


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