There is something so comforting and heartwarming about a plate of fresh, steaming pasta. I was raised on great Italian dishes, but it’s not always what you’re looking for in the middle of summer. Why not make great use of the season’s vibrant vegetables and rid yourself of the burden of a heavy meal in the heat.
Zucchini noodles are a fantastic substitute for the traditional pasta – and I promise they are not as difficult as they look. If you have a mandolin, that tool will be a huge asset for this dish, but if not, have no fear. Using a sharp knife, cut the zucchini into slices lengthwise. Each of these slices will get divided even further into thin noodles. I promise you, imperfections are forgivable – the zucchini cooks to be so soft that any extra thickness or irregularity will not be noticeable. You’ll be too focused on how good it tastes!
Ingredients (Serves two people):
1 whole zucchini
½ onion, chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1-2 cups of chopped kale
3-4 tablespoons of pesto
2-3 tablespoons of pine nuts
1 handful of fresh basil
2-3 tablespoons of water
Spices (optional but recommended, to taste):
After cutting the zucchini, the hard part is over! Next comes the kale. This voluminous green shrinks when cooking, so don’t be alarmed if 1-2 cups seems like a lot raw. I tend to gently tear the leave from the stalk – careful to leave out fibrous center stalks as they do not cook down like the leaves. Gently chop into smaller pieces and set aside. With your stove at medium temperature, sauté the chopped onion and garlic in a large saucepan in the oil of your choice (I would recommend coconut oil, but olive oil or butter also work). When the onions are translucent, throw in the zucchini, kale and basil. Turning the heat on the stove up, add a bit of water and cover the pan, allowing the vegetables to steam. When the water has burned off, turn down the heat to medium.
Check every few minutes to mix the vegetables together, add seasonings and test the tenderness of the zucchini. You don’t want the noodles to get too soft. When the vegetables have reached your preferred texture, gently stir in the pine nuts (could also use walnuts) and pesto, and you are ready to serve. Pre-made pesto is the cheat in this recipe. I use Kirkland brand pesto – but you can find pesto sauces at most grocery stores – or easily make your own beforehand with basil, pine nuts and olive oil! Buying a jar works well for me because I don’t like too much and it keeps really easily in the fridge.
Madeline Zappala is a photographer living and working in Boston. She is currently working towards her Masters of Fine Arts at the School at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She works in an intimate, personal documentary style of photography, exploring interpersonal relationships and what it means to be transitioning into adulthood in this contemporary cultural climate. See more of her work at zappalaphoto.tumblr.com.