In an effort to share more of our very most every day meals, the ones I throw together with whatever’s left in the fridge, or the staples I can make with my eyes half closed at the end of a long day, I’ve started posting occasional short, simple posts just about these meals. I call it vær så god, Norwegian for “bon appetit.”
Part of me wants to say I haven’t made up my mind about zucchini “noodles” – you know, zucchini shredded or thinly sliced, lightly cooked, and used like a sort of pasta – but in a way my mind must be made up because I keep eating them! I guess my ambivalence stems from my sense that I can’t quite embrace them as a true pasta substitute, per se. If I want pasta, I’m going to have to still eat pasta because zucchini noodles can’t quite fill those shoes. But, if you embrace them as their own thing, rather than a pasta substitute, then they’re quite enjoyable – all slippery, chewy, and floppy – and a great way to build a meal around vegetables.
The way I’ve been preparing them most often isn’t really even a recipe. I just use a vegetable peeler to shave a few zucchinis into strips, simmer them 2-3 minutes along with some peas, and gently toss them with pesto. Voila. Dinner. Sometimes I top this melange with shrimp or goat cheese, but sometimes I just leave it in plain pesto glory.
This is another variation, and it is a sort of squashified take on a simple Italian pasta dish – sort of putanesca, sort of not. It is plentiful with juicy tomatoes, pungent with garlic, hearty with meaty tuna, and lots of good olive oil. It’s a celebration of pure summer flavors.
Vær så god!
- about 3 zucchini or summer squash, skinny ones are the easiest to turn into noodles
- 3 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 Tbs. capers
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 large tomatoes, diced
- 2 handfuls of spinach or arugula
- 1 can of olive oil packed tuna (it's more expensive, but using the olive oil packed kind really makes a difference in something like this)
- a splash of red wine vinegar
- salt and pepper
- grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
- Wash the zucchini (or summer squash) and trim off the stems and tips. Use a vegetable peeler or mandoline to slice the zucchinis lengthwise (top to bottom) into long thin strips. Continue until you can't peel any more slices off. At this point you can lay the flat side on a cutting board and carefully use a sharp knife to continue slicing ribbons (they'll be a little thicker, but that's fine).
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the zucchini noodles to the water, turn down to a simmer and cook 2 minutes, until just translucent. Drain in a colander for at least 5 minutes, while you prepare the sauce.
- In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the capers and cook for a couple of minutes to lightly crisp them.
- Stir in the tomatoes and garlic. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the tomatoes break down and start to thicken into a pulpy sauce. Then, stir in the spinach/arugula, and tuna. Turn the heat to low and cook for a couple minutes.
- Stir in a splash of red wine vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Gently stir this sauce and the zucchini noodles together either in the pan or in a serving bowl. Divide between two plates and sprinkle generously with Parmesan before eating.