What excited me about my box of vegetables from Good Work Farm this week? (look to top right of my blog to find out what I am talking about); baby zucchini and baby yellow squash. When I opened the box and found a hoard of these little gems I wanted to kiss them, they were so darn cute!
They were no more than 4″ long and the last thing I wanted to do was slice them up and hide them in a complicated sauce. They deserved to be the star of my dinner last night and I worked hard to make that happen.
For the past couple of weeks I have been doing all sorts of summer stuff with my kids and getting home tired, and not much in the mood to cook. Then, something happens. I start to think about food and I get excited about the possibilities, especially when I have something wonderful at my disposal, like baby zucchini.
I sliced them lengthways so as to keep their shape and size, and this allowed them to cook faster and brown the flesh a little. I tossed them with fresh lemon basil and intensified that flavor with lemon zest and butter. I added thyme sprigs to soften the tangy edge, and it all worked beautifully. I used an apple and onion seasoned sausage and tossed it all with some pasta and dinner was ready, with only 1 pot to clean! It was fresh, seasonal, and light-tasting, not to mention how good the tender squash and zucchini tasted. I am sad to think that by next week the remainder of the zucchini crop will have outgrown their cuteness, but, thankful that I had a chance to cook and eat them at least once this year. Little things like this is what makes eating seasonal food special.
You will need: 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1 lb sausage (Sweet Italian, seasoned sausage such as garlic, garlic and onion, onion and white wine etc), sliced into bite-sized pieces, 1 medium/large sweet onion, diced, 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped, a mixture of 12 baby zucchini ans squash, halved lengthways, 6 thyme sprigs, 1/2 cup lemon basil leaves, left whole, 1 tbs lemon zest, 2 tbs unsalted butter, 1 lb pasta (penne, shells, spirals), coarse sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, 1/2 cup hot pasta water (scoop from pasta cooking water before draining).
1 – Put big pan on medium heat and add 3 tbs of oil. Add the onions and saute for 5 minutes before adding the thyme. Continue to cook for another 2 minutes
2 – Add the halved zucchini and squash, 3/4 tsp coarse salt, and cook for 10 minutes, turning gently every few minutes. The goal is to get them a little brown in places. Transfer everything with a spatula to a plate and set aside.
3 – Add the last tbs of oil and fry the sausage pieces until cooked (about 12 minutes.
*While the sausages are cooking put water on for pasta and when it boils cook according to instructions. Before draining, scoop out about 3/4 cup of pasta water and set aside.
4 – Transfer the vegetables back into the pan and cook until they have warmed up (about 1 minute). Adjust heat if you need to.
5 – When pasta has cooked add immediately to pan, along with the lemon zest, butter and a 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Give everything a stir. If you want a looser sauce add the rest of the pasta water. Taste for seasoning and turn heat off.
Serve in warm shallow bowls and add a little Parmigiano Reggiano if you have it, OR leave in the pan and everybody can help themselves.