Summer squash: those plants that keep on giving. Everyone has stories about summer squash (or zucchini, if you will); some of them are even funny, although most are more of “oh, no, not more squash,” variety. Since we pretty much get what we get from the CSA, during the summer we have zucchini. And, just as when you grow it, we have our struggles finding ways to use it.
But, this week, we had a copy of The Little Book of Lunch, by Caroline Craig and Sophie Missing, that we’d borrowed from the library, and we found this recipe that they suggested as a dish to bring to lunch. Now, we’ll fully admit that, for most meal-like dishes, we use the recipes as guidelines; a suggested lunch might end up as dinner, or vice versa. And, that’s the way it should be; after all, we’re the ones eating it, right?
For our pasta, we used half white whole-wheat flour and half all-purpose. We find that the texture is better than trying to make pasta with all whole-wheat flour. For the lemon, if you can, buy one that’s organic, as you’ll be eating the zest. You know, the part that’s sprayed with stuff that kills insects. Otherwise, wash with soap and water to remove the wax coating. The walnuts are our addition; we happen to love them in almost any dish, savory or sweet, and a handful will never go amiss. Try it.
Procedure in detail:
Boil pasta. Bring a large kettle of salted water to a boil. How much salt? We add about 2 teaspoons for a half gallon of water. Now, you’ll have to think about timing for your dish. You want the pasta cooked and drained about the time the squash is finished cooking, and that takes only a few minutes. Plus, you’ll need to reserve a half-cup of the water in which the pasta cooks. We find it easiest to scoop out a half-cup of water right before draining the pasta. So, with those two things in mind, once the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook, until it’s done to your taste. We like it with just the slightest bit of chewiness left in the center of the noodle.
Sauté garlic. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, and cook, stirring, until tender, about 2 minutes. You don’t want the garlic to burn, as burnt garlic doesn’t taste very good, so watch closely.
Add squash, juice, and zest. When the garlic is ready, add the zucchini, lemon juice and zest, and black pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the squash is tender, but not so long that it’s falling apart. It should take only a couple of minutes. If your pasta has a while to go, reduce the heat to a minimum to keep the squash mixture warm.
Add walnuts and onions. Now that the pasta is almost done, add the walnuts and green onions and stir to coat.
Add pasta and water. Scoop off that half-cup of water and set it aside, then drain pasta. We just used a fork to scoop out the pasta directly into the skillet; it brought along some pasta water, so we adjusted accordingly. Once the pasta is in place, add the reserved water, sprinkle the dill on top, and stir and cook until the liquid thickens.
Serve. Divide between two heated bowls, topping with grated Parmesan cheese.
The only thing we didn’t like about this dish was the dill. To us, it seemed odd and out of place in an otherwise Italian-style dish. But, other than that, this makes for a nice quick dinner, one in which you don’t even realize that you’re eating zucchini, since it blends right in with the pasta — that’s one of the reasons it’s nice to use spaghetti shapes. We’ll be making this again, albeit without the dill, so four stars, and thanks to The Little Book of Lunches for the recipe idea.