Ruth at Once Upon A Feast had a great idea--Presto Pasta Night. And I'm very glad she had this idea. I realized that I haven't fixed pasta in over a month. How did that happen? Very odd, as we usually eat pasta at least once a week. So, thank you very much Ruth, you got me back on the pasta track. I'm sure there will be many others making lovely pasta recipes and you'll find their efforts in the Roundup at Ruth's site this Friday.
It's been cold and wet here, not cheerful at all. One thing that brightened my mood was this simple little centerpiece of speckled baby Iris bulbs. I love these early spring flowers and have larger Iris plants in my yard, but they are weeks away from flowering. This little centerpiece is on a small breakfast table and it makes me smile each morning as I eat my oatmeal. I offer it for Janelle's Centerpiece Of The Month at Talk Of Tomatoes which ends tomorrow for February! There will be better and more artful centerpieces than mine there for your consideration.
The rain was constant today and it was so dark during the afternoon, it looked like early evening. I decided to make this pasta recipe because the ingredients remind me that in a few months, the sun will be shining its light on a regular basis and the summer vegetables will start to appear at the farmers market. This recipe is almost like a pasta salad. In fact, it tastes very good at room temperature, but I prefer it warm. It's simple to make, but full of big flavors.
There's not much cooking to this. You saute pine nuts and shallots for a few minutes then put them into a big bowl along with dried tomato shreds, capers, lemon peel, herbs (parsley, marjoram, and thyme), and olive oil.
Then the zucchini is cooked for one minute in the boiling water intended for the pasta, then scooped out and placed in the bowl with the pine nut mixture. The pasta then cooks in the water and goes into the bowl as well. Then it's just a matter of tossing it all together and serving it with some parmesan.
Linguine With Zucchini, Capers, Lemon, Pine Nuts, And Herbs
(Adapted from The Greens Cookbook by Deborah Madison)
1 lb. linguine
8 ounces small, firm green or golden zucchini
1/2 cup mixed fresh herbs: parsley, marjoram, basil, chervil, thyme,, and others of your choice
6 Tablespoons virgin olive oil
5 Tablespoons pine nuts
4 shallots, roughly chopped
4 teaspoons capers, rinsed in water
2 sun dried tomatoes, cut into narrow strips
Slice the zucchini into pieces about the same thickness as the pasta you are using, then cut them into narrow matchsticks. Bring a large pot of water to boil.
Using as many of the herbs of your choice that you want, pull the leaves off the stems and chop the herbs roughly. Remove the peel from the lemon with a vegetable peeler, then cut the peel into thin slivers
Heat 2 Tablespoons of the oil in a small pan and add the pine nuts. Cook them until they begin to color, then add the shallots and cook over medium heat until the shallots are limp and the pine nuts have colored even more. Do not burn the pine nuts. When done, transfer this to a large bowl, along with the lemon peel, capers, herbs and dried tomato slices.
Add salt to the boiling water, drop in the zucchini and cook for 1 minute, Scoop it out and shake the water off and put tit into the bowl with the pine nuts mixture. Then boil the pasta until al dente, drain and place in the bowl. Season with salt and pepper and lemon juice to taste. Toss until the noodles are coated with the oil and herb mixture. Serve with the grated cheese, passed separately.