Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Trouble with Tribbles, err, Zucchini

OK, if you're not a geek like me or aren't old enough to remember the classic Trouble with Tribbles episode of the original Star Trek, that title line probably confused you. You see, Tribbles were these cute little furry pets that were brought aboard the Starship Enterprise and began to reproduce at a rate that would make rabbits look lazy. If you've ever grown zucchini, you know that they're kind of like Tribbles. Well, we had the typical bumper crop this season so we're still working hard at finding new ways to feature them in our Meatless Monday meals.

Our most recent use of zucchini was as a pistou, a cold sauce typically made from garlic, basil, olive oil, nuts and cheese.

  • 4 tsps extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 1/2 cups zucchini sliced 1/4" thick (about 3/4 pound)
  • 1/2  cup packed basil leaves
  • 2 tbps pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz) shaved parmigiano-reggiano cheese, divided
  • 4 garlic cloves (2 minced, 2 whole)
  • 2 cups chopper Vidalia (or other sweet onion)
  • 6 qts water
  • 1 3/4 tsps kosher salt, divided
  • 8 oz. uncooked penne
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 hot peppers, thinly sliced (optional)
  • Handful yellow wax or green beans (optional)
  • Halved cherry tomatoes for garnish
  • Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a large skillet on medium high. Add zucchini and saute until tender and starting to brown (about 10 mins).
  • Remove to a bowl and allow to cool slightly.
  • place 1/4 cup cooked zucchini, basil, 1/4 cup cheese, and 2 whole garlic cloves in a food processor or blender and mix until finely chopped (keep mixture in processor).
  • Heat remaining oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and saute for about 10 minutes until golden. Add remaining cooked zucchini to pan. Add hot pepper and minced garlic, saute for about 1 more minute. Remove from heat. 
  • Combine water and 1 tsp kosher salt in a large pot and bring to a boil.
  • Add pasta and cook until almost aldente. Add beans and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Fish out pasta and beans
  • Add 1/3 cup of the pasta cooking water to the food processor, process until smooth.
  • Add the onion and zucchini mixture to the pasta and beans
  • Add the basil/zucchini pistou to the pasta. Add heavy cream, salt and pepper. Stir then top with remaining cheese and cherry tomatoes.

This summery pasta dish is perfect for any vegetarian or Meatless Monday meal. The zucchini lends a refreshing element to the classic pistou components.

Days like this are why we garden.....

Some days the garden seems ready to give more than other days. This past Sunday was one of those special days. It wasn't so much the quantity of what we were able to harvest, but the variety that made is seem just a little bit special. We went out to pick things early in the evening when the sun was very low in the sky and the light made everything look just a little more perfect.

I recently posted about the garden changing as the summer passes. I think Sunday night was one of the change points because things from the early part of the growing season were still there but fading a little and being replaced with things that we had planted later and were now thriving.

So, enough waxing poetically -- here's what we were able to pick in just about 10 minutes last Sunday. I like this picture as much as any I've posted in any of my blogs.

Pea on this, Pea on that

Peas have a reputation.  And it ain't good - starchy and a weird color, very often the color of something a babe has recycled. But in fa...