Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pesto Pasta with Zucchini Ribbons

Has anyone noticed that I sort of disappeared for a second? A sister's wedding 2,000 miles away will do that to a gal. But, here's the good news:

1. My sister is successfully married,

2. I'm back at home in my kitchen, and

3. This recipe is so delicious the zucchini ribbons with literally put you in a head lock (you've been warned)!
I found this recipe from Molly Wizenberg's A Homemade Life, otherwise known as the author of Orangette. Her memoir is deliciously inspiring. I have already tried about four of her recipes out of the book and I just came off of a 4,000 mile road trip, so that's saying something. If you haven't already check out her blog and pick up her memoir! It's a delicious read!

This recipe had me at pesto. In case you didn't notice by my last post, pesto is one of my favorite things and zucchini is everywhere in everyone's garden (including mine believe it or not!) And making zucchini into 'noodles' that's just genius! It's great served hot, luke warm, or even cold at a fall picnic.

All you'll need is one yummy bite swirled around your fork and you'll be hooked. The bright pesto-garlic paired with the slightly crunchy zucchini and the soft pasta just melts all together on your tongue to create the perfect sink into your chair and moan kind of feeling.

I served this as a side dish to accompany some Walnut and Parmesan Crusted Sole and it was a perfect marriage, but it can also be a stand alone vegetarian meal or you could add some chick peas for extra protein and keep it vegetarian. It would also be great with come diced grilled chicken stirred in at the last minute! The possibilities are endless! 
Enjoy and let's get on with the recipe!

Pesto Pasta with Zucchini Ribbons
1/2 Cup Garden Fresh Pesto
1 Large Zucchini (approx 2-3 cups of ribbons needed)
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1/2 Box Whole Wheat Spaghetti Noodles
Pinch of Salt
Parmesan Cheese (for serving)
1. Rinse the zucchini to clean the skin of any dirt. Then using a vegetable peeler, mandoline, or large cheese slicer, cut the zucchini long ways into long 'ribbons' or noodles if you will.

2. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add the spaghetti noodles and cook according to package directions leaving them a little less than done, otherwise known as al dente. We will want to add the noddles straight from the pot of boiling water into the zucchini so you'll want to time this so the noodles are ready after you have already started cooking the zucchini.
3. Meanwhile, warm the olive oil in a large pot or deep skillet. Add the zucchini 'ribbons' and cook stirring with large tongs until tender, but not mushy, about 5-7 minutes over medium heat. 
4. Once pasta is cooked, add the pasta using metal tongs straight into the zucchini. This will bring some of that yummy pasta water with it giving the zucchini and pasta some yummy liquid for the pesto to marry with.  Then add the pesto to the pasta and zucchini and toss with the tongs until each ribbon and noodle is covered in the pesto. Add salt to taste and serve immediately with lots of Parmesan Cheese for sprinkling on top!

Note: This can also be prepared in advance and covered on the stove and served at room temperature when you are ready to eat. I made this before the guests arrived for our dinner party and covered it and placed it on the back of the stove. When we were ready to eat, I uncovered it and we dug in. It was great at room temperature served with Walnut and Parmesan Crusted Sole on a cool fall day!

Servings: 8 for side dish (4 for main course)

Nutritional Skinny (for side dish/double everything for main course serving):

139 calories / 6.3 g fat / 4.3 g carbohydrates / 1.2 g fiber / 2.2 g protein

Mental Health Benefit:  Not only are we abundant in zucchini right now, but it's fantastic for us and this is a great way to hide it from picky eaters! It has 10% of our daily fiber requirements and helps lower cholesterol by attaching itself to bile acids which are excreted by the liver helping to reduce the amount of fat that is stored in our bodies. It's also loaded with Vitamin A and C plus the magnesium in zucchini helps us lower our blood pressure and the large amount of folate helps us fight inflammation! This is another one of those great super foods and making then into noodles is the perfect disguise to get your kids and/or spouses to enjoy the health benefits even if they are picky eaters!

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