I remember my papa growing zucchini plants in the back yard, though not every year. They grew like wildfire, trailing everywhere, over the brick pathways and into other vegetable beds, which infuriated him, vowing not to plant them next year (“bladhi (bloody) zuchini i va dapertuto, prosimo ano no’ li pianteremo” he would mutter in a mix of English and dialect). We would check them every few days and collect several each time, but invariably miss one or two. And then you would find a monster zucchini hidden under a large leaf, marvelling at how you had possibly missed something that size. And then there is the dilemma of having too many zucchini to eat and this is where it is good to have lots of easy zucchini recipes up your sleeve like this one or the one in this post.
It is a slow braise of the vegetable that I like to eat with pasta, made tasty by garlic and a few anchovy fillets slipped in at the start, and a handful of herbs stirred through at the end. You actually cannot taste that there are anchovies in the dish as it is slow cooked, dissolving them in the pan juices, giving the zucchini a depth of flavour (umami) that is frankly delicious even if you do not like anchovies (I know there are a few of you anchovy haters out there though I must admit, I adore them and have been known to eat them whole straight from the jar when they are in good quality olive oil). I use four anchovies for two people but feel free to decrease this to two if you think you may not like the taste (or leave them out but it will definitely affect the depth of flavour). This recipe has been on repeat in my house all summer, and is so easy to make. I tend to make fresh egg-free pasta (the photos have green orecchiette made with spinach) but you could also use good quality dried pasta, any shape or colour will do. I have made the recipe below for two people, but you can easily double it so that it feeds four, that way you will use up a kilo of zucchini.
It looks very green doesn’t it. I think green is the prettiest of colours to eat. It just looks fresh and healthy and well, it is. I read of the recent release of the EAT-Lancet commission of food, planet and health in the newspaper and via my social media channels. The commission brought together 30 scientists to formulate the diet that will not only be good for our health (decreases risk of cardio-vascular disease, diabetes and cancers) but also good for the planet/sustainable. An excellent premise. It asks the question: Can we feed a future population of 10 billion people a healthy diet within planetary boundaries? I read the recommendations with great interest (I am a bit of sustainability freak and my husband works in sustainability) and the reasoning behind them. It is a seriously fascinating read and if you have any interest in sustainability, planet health and people health, you should have a look (here is the link). It will make you think about what you eat and the impacts of it.
While we are talking about food and sustainability, I am SO EXCITED to be a part of Festival-21 at the Meat Market, North Melbourne on Saturday 2 February. The whole amazing day is free and has a program jam-packed with Plenaries, Workshops and discussions and an incredible lineup of speakers talking about the future of food. Totally inspiring! I will be running a pasta-making workshop at 12 noon for 30 people. I will be asking for volunteers to help me roll out the pasta so please come along! As I mentioned the whole day is FREE but you do need tickets to register for events on the day as there are space limitations – click here to find out more about the program, speakers and to get tickets.
There are still places for my Trieste Tour in September 2019. It is a six day and five night tour visiting the beautiful parts of Italy (and a day on the Istrian peninsula in Slovenia) where my family is from. Meet the passionate producers from the area, explore their food culture and taste the delicious food and wine that the area offers. Click here for more information or here to see what the 2018 tour looked like. I would LOVE to show you around my little corner of Italy.
pasta con zucchine
2 medium sized zucchini/courgettes (about 500g total)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for drizzling)
2-4 anchovies preserved in oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1/4 cup dry white wine
pinch chilli flakes (optional)
small handful fresh basil, mint or parsley leaves
grated parmesan cheese to serve
200g of your favourite pasta (fresh or dried)
Slice the zucchini into thin rounds and set aside.
Place the olive oil in a medium-large lidded frypan on low-medium heat. Add the garlic and the anchovies, smashing the anchovies into pieces as the garlic starts sizzle. If you are using chilli flakes, you can add them now. When the garlic becomes fragrant, add the zucchini and stir while they start warming up in the pan. Once they are warmed through, increase the heat to medium-high and add the wine. Cook that down and then decrease the heat to low. Cover with a lid and allow to cook until the zucchini becomes soft, about 30-40 minutes, checking every now and then and stirring. Add a bit of water if it starts looking dry. Eventually the zucchini will start falling apart; if you like you can stir them vigorously to make them into a type of cream, though I like seeing the zucchini rounds. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Cook your pasta according to the instructions on the packet until a minute or two before it is cooked to your liking. Remove the pasta from the pot of boiling water with a large slotted spoon or with tongs, allowing some of the salted pasta cooking water to drop into pan. Cook the pasta for the last few minutes in the sauce. Toss through your herbs when the pasta is ready. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil (optional) and scatter on grated cheese use before serving.