A sunny summer day awakens the anticipation of an afternoon at the pool, and not just any pool, but an olympic size pool, surrounded by a hill of trees on all sides, making a sticky, hot day livable. It is possibly the one thing I most like about our community and we can walk there. It makes summer fun, even when we have humidity. But, lunch must be prepared first, and this pasta with zucchini sauce is perfect. It’s summery, fresh, and portable. And, if everyone doesn’t finish eating before pool time, it travels well. Sitting at an umbrella table, soaking wet, eating pasta marks one great summer day.
I doubt that Marcella was thinking of Zucchini Sauce as a poolside recipe, but I’m glad she created it nonetheless. It’s so good that I’m almost compelled to say that butter is my new new olive oil. But, Retro Rose (my mom) would fall to the floor and I’m not up for the drama. Oh, she ate a big bowl of this, but we don’t need to tell her how much butter danced through the pasta.
Her sister, my godmother and favorite Aunt Rita had an aversion to butter. As a child she took hold of a stick of butter, consumed it and got into trouble, which added up to a life time of asking “did you put butter in this?” And, we would always have to say, “no we promise, there is no butter.”
I inherited my Aunt Rita’s chefware pots and pans, and I can safely state, the bottoms of her cookware never saw butter. Her aversion carried over into the “family” and we rarely saw butter on the table, or on a vegetable, but to put butter on pasta wasn’t just against her wishes…it was against the family cooking rules.
Between my aunt’s butter phobia and the mass market gluttonous presentations, I’ve been afraid of cooking with butter in Italian food. I have changed my mind. I feel like I might be discovering the next level of Italian cooking that will still be my own creative, modern style, but always pointing back to the classical and traditional Italian. But, not in that put a pound of butter into everything the way food TV shows do to increase ratings, but that’s another story.
Zucchini Sauce – The Many Hats Zucchini Wears
My friend, the zucchini, has worn many hats this summer here at Spinach Tiger. The sweet side of the zucchini showed you chocolate zucchini cake which led to zucchini chocolate chip cookies, and the savory dishes included crispy fried zucchini squash blossoms and my own creation, zucchini garlic scape pesto. I urge you to accept all the zucchini your gardener friends are trying to hand off to you and make all of these recipes, and if you discover or create your own, please let me know.
This zucchini sauce pairs sweetly with homemade egg fettucini and can be a very proper first and most important course for dinner or Sunday lunch. But, it sure tastes extra good at the pool.
Serve a fresh corn-tomato salad and watermelon slices or sorbet and celebrate the best of summer.
Zucchini Sauce with Garlic and Basil
- 1 1/2 pounds zucchini ends trimmed, cut into sticks 2 1/2”long by 1/4” thick
- 10-12 fresh basil leaves washed, paper-towel dried, torn into pieces
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 3 garlic cloves peeled
- 4 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano plus cheese for serving at table
- 1 pound pasta
- Rinse zucchini in cold water, scrubbing off the dirt residue, trim ends cut into sticks. Toss with salt a few times. Put in colander, salt and place over a bowl to collect the moisture for a minimum of two hours. There will be a surprising amount of liquid. Check often.
- Pat dry with paper towels, rinse colander as you will use it again to shake zucchini, after dredging with flour.
- Pour vegetable oil in frying pan up to at least 1/4” and fry the garlic. Once it browns, remove, add in zucchini and fry until golden brown.
- Cook and drain pasta. Toss with butter. Add zucchini basil, cheese, toss thoroughly.
- Note: I used zephyr zucchini, a hybrid between green and yellow. I used a linguini in the main picture and fusilli for the version we too
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