Sunday, August 17, 2008

Pasta with Tomatoes and Zucchini

When zucchini and tomatoes are in season (summer), this is by far my favorite easy meal to make. It has been adapted from so many different sources, re-jiggered as I read new recipes so many times that I don't even know when I started making it. I do know, however, that it had to be within the last three years - before then, I had not had a tomato worth eating. Moving to Davis and discovering the homegrown tomato, I now know what tomatoes should taste like.

Pasta with Tomatoes and Zucchini
enough for one

1/2 lb linguine, or other straight pasta
2 handfuls cherry/grape/Sun Gold tomatoes, halved
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/3 inch pieces
Red pepper flake, added to desired spiciness (I like a lot)
Olive oil, salt, and pepper
Tarragon (or whatever herb you prefer)

Put water on to boil. Let it get pretty close to boiling, add some salt, then recover and start the sauce.

Heat a few teaspoons of oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the zucchini. Let it cook until it starts to brown. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, turn down to medium, and stir while cooking for 30-45 seconds. When the garlic just starts to color, add in the tomatoes. Remember- leave a few to snack on while the sauce is cooking! When the water comes to a boil, add in the pasta.

Once the tomatoes have been sizzling for a few minutes and start to slip out of their skins and break down a bit, turn the heat down to just below medium. As the sauce starts to run out of liquid, add about a quarter cup of boiling pasta water to the sauce. There is something that happens when pasta water is added to an oil-based sauce - it is as if it forms an emulsion of sorts and forms a thick-ish sauce - certainly thicker than either oil or water.

Let the sauce continue to simmer. When the pasta is al dente, turn the sauce back up to high, add in the pasta with a touch more water and mix everything together. Once the sauce has adhered to the pasta, it's ready to go. Add pepper and more salt, if necessary, to taste.

There you have my favorite summer meal.

1 comment:

noble pig said...

I love the two-handfuls part...perfect. Great picture too, save some for me!