A Pasta for Pasta Month
I love food holidays. Oh, I don’t mean holidays when we eat special foods, I mean the hundreds of weird but wonderful days, weeks, and months dedicated to a particular food. October is not only National Pasta Month but also National Apple Month and National Cookie Month. It’s not just an American thing, either. There are world food holidays, too. October 1 is World Vegetarian Day and October 25 is World Pasta Day.
For the past year I’ve been working on a pasta cookbook in Italy, where a chef introduced me to Felicetti Monograno, a delicious whole-grain pasta made with farro, kamut, or spelt flour. Even though the company is the world’s largest maker of 100% organic pasta, I couldn’t find it in NYC, so you can imagine how shocked I was to discover it here in the Berkshires at Rubiner’s in Great Barrington. This must-try brand has a naturally rich, roasted nut flavor that’s great even plain without sauce.
Celebrate National Pasta Month, World Pasta Day and National Vegetarian Day by using up the last of the season’s zucchini with this standout pasta recipe from Pasta Modern: New & Inspired Recipes from Italy by Francine Segan (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2013), which will be in fine bookstores, like the Bookloft in Great Barrington, on October 15.
Zucchini Glazed Pasta
Serves 2, but you can easily double or triple it.
This easy-to-prepare recipe has a great twist—the pasta is cooked in the zucchini juice instead of boiling water! This technique makes a light, fat-free, healthy sauce. The zucchini does double duty as both cooking liquid and topping. Grate the zucchini and use the delicious green juice that forms to cook the pasta. It makes a gorgeous, glossy sauce. The remaining grated pieces are then tossed with hot pasta so none of the vibrant, fresh veggie goes to waste. I like the recipe because it’s simple but has a fancy, chef-y touch.
3 large zucchini
1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 pound farro, kamut or spelt spaghetti, preferably Felicetti brand
Parmesan or other aged cheese, optional
Line a colander with cheesecloth and place it in a large bowl. Grate the zucchini, on the smallest holes of a cheese grater, into the colander. Toss the zucchini with a pinch of salt and the garlic and let rest for 1 hour at room temperature.
Squeeze the zucchini to extract all the liquid; you should have about 1/2 cup of juice. Set aside both the grated zucchini and the juice.
Parboil the pasta in lightly salted boiling water for half the time suggested on the package, then drain. Bring 1/4 cup of the zucchini juice to a boil in the now empty pasta pot. Toss in the pasta and cook on medium, stirring occasionally, until al dente, adding more zucchini juice a little at a time so it absorbs into the pasta and creates a nice glaze.
Now you have a choice on how to finish the dish. You can either toss the pasta with the raw grated zucchini and top with a drizzle of raw olive oil or, if you prefer, fry the zucchini in a skillet on high heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, until crispy, and then toss into the pasta. Serve the pasta topped with grated or shaved cheese, if you like.
By the way, August 8th is National Zucchini Day, so save the recipe for next year!