My friend, Italian-wine aficionado Ciro Pirone, recently posted a photo of pasta with zucchini on his informative Twitter feed @Vinofilosofia. It looked so appetizing that I asked him for the recipe. His response: “Senza ricetta…tutto ad occhio (No recipe, all by eye.) I sauté a little onion and then add thinly sliced zucchini, salt and pepper, and cook low, covered; halfway I add half a glass of water and let cook till they fall apart. Toss in the pasta and some parmigiano!”
So last night, I decided to have a go at preparing this dish, which my research revealed to be quite popular in Italy, with many variations, including some with beaten eggs like a carbonara and others with diced pancetta.
What appealed to me most about Ciro’s recipe, however, was its simplicity: just a few ingredients (4), a few minutes of prep work (5), and relatively simple cooking (sauté, simmer, and toss). As Ina Garten might say: “How easy is that?”
The only variations I made from the original recipe was adding a little wine after sautéing the zucchini, substituting Pecorino Romano for the Parmigiano, and garnishing with a sprinkle of parsley. And perhaps next summer, when they are available, I’ll add some chopped zucchini blossoms to the sauté.
From start to finish, it took approximately 45 minutes to prepare this tasty pasta, with its silky sauce of sweet onion and grassy zucchini. The perfect vegetarian dish for meatless Mondays, which, by the way, is one of our New Year’s resolutions.
As this is our last post of the year, let me take this opportunity to send, from our table to yours, our wishes for a happy and peaceful New Year.
Pasta with Zucchini and Onion
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise and then sliced into thin half moons (see photo below)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano
Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped, optional
8 ounces short pasta,, such as casarecce, penne, fusilli
1. In a large sauté pan, sauté the onions with a little salt over medium heat, until soft and translucent, not letting them color. About 7 minutes.
2. Add the zucchini, a little salt, and sauté, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften. About 7 minutes.
3. Add the wine, raise the heat a little, and cook for about 1 minute.
4. Cover and reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, adding about 1/4-cup of water after the first 5 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions until about 2 minutes shy of al dente.
6. When done, add the pasta to the sauce, toss, and cook until al dente, about 2 minutes. If necessary, add a little pasta water to loosen the sauce.
7. Remove from the heat and add the cheese, reserving some to serve at the table.
8. If you wish, sprinkle with some parsley.
9. Transfer to warmed pasta bowls and serve with additional cheese.
Wine Pairing: Verdicchio, Falanghina, Sauvignon Blanc