August is nearly over! How could this happen? It’s time to snap up the overflowing bounty from gardens and farm markets, and serve it as quickly as you can — without heating up your kitchen too much.
It’s also the time of year to figure out how to deal with the over-abundance of zucchini. (Did you try Holly’s Whole Wheat Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins? And do you have room in the deep freeze?) The best bumper sticker I think I’ve ever seen read “Lock your doors – it’s zucchini season!” Have you been lucky/unlucky enough to come home to find a grocery bag full of zucchinis from an overwhelmed gardener friend, and experience the subsequent scramble for zucchini recipes!
Our zucchini harvest here has been affected by the drought, for sure, so I don’t know how many gardeners will be trying to foist grocery bags of it onto neighbors and friends this year. After a brief lapse in early August though, there seems to be plenty available again. I think hardy zucchini could flourish long after the apocalypse.
This is one of the quickest recipes I’ve ever made. Just seven ingredients, half of which can be found at the farm stand (zucchini, cilantro, shallots, and cherry tomatoes), and it will be on the table in under 30 minutes, with only 10 minutes of stove time.
The other 20 minutes is devoted to washing and chopping your veggies. If you want to work with fresh veggies, it’s best to practice your knife skills. I think I’ve linked to it before, but I do love Jamie Oliver’s knife skills tutorial for a basic introduction. If you’re super-busy (who isn’t?) it works to chop everything ahead of time for a quick weeknight meal when you arrive home after work or school. You can cover fresh chopped veggies tightly and refrigerate overnight. The zucchini might discolor slightly, but you’re sautéing it anyway so it’s not an issue.
I chose to cut the zucchini into matchsticks to match the shape and come close to the size of the slivered almonds – the last pic above demonstrates my process. Slice a zucchini in half lengthwise, and then slice that half into long, thin slices. (As a rule, you don’t want more than ¼” wide of the tough zucchini skin.) If you have a larger zucchini, you might also remove some of its seedy core. This tends to get soft and spongy when cooked.
This recipe was inspired by Food52’s ‘Zucchini-Green Coriander Pasta,’ but I wanted to make a vegetarian version. (I still intend to try that one, but I’ve had a heck of a time trying to find green coriander seeds. Sheesh.) After trying Smitten Kitchen’s ‘Zucchini-Almond Sauté,’ and loving that combination, I thought these might all go well together to make a satisfying, light dinner. I find that Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Angel Hair is a hearty, super-satisfying complement to the nutty sauteed zucchini and almonds, and the creamy cottage cheese and zippy cilantro seal the deal. Some gorgeous sweet cherry tomatoes I picked up at the farm market were the perfect finishing touch.
I liked the subtle lightness of the almonds. But don’t skimp on the cilantro! The dish needs that bright flavor to wake up all the healthy flavors. A finish with a squeeze of lemon juice helps, too. If you’re not a cilantro fan, I bet parsley would be a nice, fresh alternative.
You can mix it all together to serve, but I really like leaving the ingredients separate and letting everyone build their own bowl.
End of Summer Zucchini Cilantro Angel Hair
Inspired by Food52′s Zucchini Green Coriander Pasta and Smitten Kitchen’s Quick Zucchini Saute
1/2 pound Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Angel Hair pasta, uncooked
3 cups zucchini, cut into matchsticks
3/4 cup slivered almonds
3/4 cup shallots, sliced thin
8 ounces small-curd cottage cheese
1/2 cup (packed) fresh cilantro, chopped
1 Tablespoon butter
fresh ground pepper
cherry tomatoes, more cilantro, and splash of lemon juice, for garnish
Heat a large pot of water over medium-high to high heat until boiling. Add a generous pinch of salt to the water.
In a pan over medium-low heat, add butter and heat until melted and bubbling. Add chopped shallots and zucchini and cook 5 minutes, stirring often, until lightly golden and just cooked through. (Feel free to taste a spear to check.)
Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling water (3-5 minutes, or until al dente). Drain, but do not rinse. Return to pot or serving bowl, and keep covered.
Add slivered almonds to zucchini and shallots and cook 1-2 more minutes, stirring. Almonds should be warmed through and fragrant. Remove pan from heat.
In individual serving bowls, add a serving of pasta (about ½ cup), a dollop of cottage cheese, a few spoons of zucchini-shallot-almond mixture, and chopped cilantro. Season with salt and pepper, and stir gently but thoroughly. Top with more cilantro and some cherry tomatoes, and serve immediately while warm.
Note: Makes 4-6 servings. All ingredients can either be assembled upon serving, or mixed together. Will keep 1-2 days in sealed container in the fridge.
Dish will keep longer if ingredients are stored separately until mixed together to eat. (You can keep the zucchini mixture and pasta together, but keep the cottage cheese and cilantro separate.) Reheat pasta and zucchini mixture and then add cottage cheese, tomatoes and cilantro to warmed mixture to replicate freshly cooked deliciousness.