August 26, 2021
Hi friends. Lately, it's been sad for me, and I haven't felt that creative drive and urge to post in some time. I lost my mom in April. She was my cooking inspiration, and I'm feeling her loss deeply. I know I can find her again, reconnect with her somehow, perhaps through food and find comfort again. I will keep plugging along.
As usual, I am late to the party! THE ultimate summer pasta dish party. You are all invited, and please feel free to arrive in your pajamas wearing a bib, fork in hand. There is a LOT of butter in here. But, it's good, oh so good. Don't fret, don't feel guilty. Eat it, congratulate yourself for making something so good, and enjoy every last bite.
The zucchini melts almost entirely into the butter, creating a jammy consistency that, when combined with a flurry of Parmigiano cheese and oodles of fresh basil, it's love people. True love. I have made it about eight times in the past month, and I won't stop when summer's over. Six ingredients, oh how I adore such a short list, prep, and cook time.
I found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen. I veered off slightly because although I loved Deb's suggestion of using garlic, I like it much better with shallot. Try it with garlic, try it with shallot, combine the two. Let me know what you prefer? Elastic waistbands are optional but highly recommended.
2 1/2 pounds zucchini, shredded by hand with a box grater or in a food processor
12 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced, plus more for serving
1 pound spaghetti
Fill pasta pot with water and bring to a boil. Add enough Kosher salt to make it taste like the sea.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a sauté pan large enough to accommodate the pasta when it's ready. Add the shallot and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes. Don't let it take on any color; just let it soften and wilt and release its loveliness into the butter.
Add the zucchini, a healthy pinch of salt, and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes. Stir frequently and lower the heat if the zucchini starts to brown. First, the zucchini will release a lot of liquid. This liquid will evaporate and reduce, and the zucchini will start to break down and take on an unforgettable zucchini'y flavor.
Once the mixture looks perfectly jammy and buttery (like you could slather it and spread it on a crusty piece of Italian bread, which I entirely encourage you to do), turn off the heat, taste, and add salt if needed.
Cook the pasta about three minutes shy of al dente, retaining a cup of the starchy (liquid gold) pasta water. Drain, and add it to the pan of zucchini. Turn the heat to medium and gently toss the pasta, adding some pasta water a bit at a time to loosen the sauce. The pasta will continue to cook for a minute or two until it reaches that perfect al dente texture. Add 1/2 of the cheese and 1/2 of the basil. Continue to toss.
Remove from the heat and serve. Top each bowl with more cheese and basil. Please leave me a comment if you make this!