It doesn't happen very often, but there are times when I question the whole cooking thing. This happens when I'm very stressed or tired and that was the situation on Monday. A dinner of shredded wheat seemed fine with me. But, then I thought of my new spices and herbs from Penzeys. That revived my spirits a bit. But, I knew that any recipe I made had to be fast. Really fast. Not one of those recipes labeled fast, but actually requiring fifteen minutes or more of chopping or shredding. Or stripping watercress leaves off their stems. None of that. And I wanted to use my new saffron. The result was this fast (I swear) recipe of Spaghetti With Zucchini And Saffron.
Actually, I did think of just tossing the pasta with saffron butter and serving it. But, slicing the baby zucchini and onion took about a minute. And the cooking time was bearable. The result was a good meal. The saffron wasn't the highest grade that Penzeys sells. If I ever win the lottery, I will certainly try some of the pricey stuff. But, the grade I bought was fragrant and had that unmistakable saffron taste. It turned the pasta a mildly yellow color. I discovered that the pasta resting on the bottom of the serving platter was a darker shade of yellow. Next time I'll remember to toss it better. As soon as I had my first bite of this dish, I decided that cooking was a good thing.
Spaghetti with Zucchini and Saffron (Adapted from Williams-Sonoma)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large sweet white onion, such as Vidalia, thinly sliced
1 lb. small zucchini, cut into rounds
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 lb. spaghetti
Generous pinch of saffron threads
3/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock, heated
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Leaves from 3 or 4 large fresh thyme sprigs,
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and sliced zucchini, season with salt and pepper, and saute until the vegetables are tender, about 5-7 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Generously salt the water, add the pasta and cook until al dente, 7 to 9 minutes.
While the water heats, dissolve the saffron in the hot stock. Add the saffron mixture, the lemon zest and thyme to the fry pan, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes to blend the flavors.
Drain the pasta and transfer to a warmed large, shallow bowl. Add the butter and 2 heaping Tbs. of the cheese and toss. Add the sauce and toss gently. Serve immediately. Pass the remaining cheese at the table. Serves 4.