Slowly but surely, I’m working my way back into an (almost) daily cooking routine. 🙂
My friend Christopher often has a sense of what I need even when I don’t. One of his recent gifts was a subscription to Cooking Light, which has served me well in two ways. One, it provides endless options for healthy cooking; two, it helps me break out of my Everyday Food rut. (It’s an often fabulous and tasty rut, but a rut nonetheless.) I’ve really enjoyed having the magazines around because I feel like the recipes are generally pretty safe, nutritionally; I don’t have to do a bunch of calculating to make sure we’re on track with our Kauai goals (eight weeks and counting!).
My most recent Cooking Light attempt was a fabulous find – Pasta with Zucchini and Toasted Almonds. It sounds like a strange combo (I’m used to toasted almonds on my oatmeal and in salads – not so much in my pasta), but the flavors were divine.
The recipe is basically a three-part process: combining ingredients to create a room-temperature tomato mixture, cooking a batch of fresh pasta, and sauteeing some zucchini with garlic. I started with the tomato mixture. In a medium bowl, I combined 2 cups of cherry tomatoes (halved), 2 tablespoons of minced shallots, 1 teaspoon of minced fresh thyme, 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice, 3/4 teaspoon of kosher (coarse) salt, 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon of sugar. I added 2 teaspoons of extra-virgin olive oil, tossed everything to coat, and set the mixture aside.
Next, I cooked 1 package (9 ounces) of refrigerated linguine according to package directions. While I waited for the water to boil, I coarsely chopped 1 pound of zucchini and 3 tablespoons of fresh mint. Once I had my pasta going, I sauteed the zucchini with 1 1/2 teaspoons of minced garlic in 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. After 3 minutes, I added 3/4 cup of chicken broth and brought the mixture to a simmer. (This happened almost immediately.) I stirred in the cooked linguine and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the chopped mint, tossing well.
I transferred the pasta-zucchini mixture to a large bowl, added the tomato mixture, and tossed well again. Each serving was 1 1/2 cups of the pasta mixture topped with a quarter of the remaining mint, 4 teaspoons of grated Pecorino Romano cheese, and 2 teaspoons of toasted almonds.
Man, was this ever good. The flavor was *so* fresh. It was veggie heavy, but it still had an indulgent pasta feel, mostly because of the way the Pecorino Romano clung to the chicken broth-moistened linguine. It was heavenly. I thought the almonds would be weird, but I really enjoyed the added texture. I *definitely* plan on making this one again… It just tastes like summer!
TIPS: My only beef with this recipe is that it was kind of difficult to toss together… The tomatoes and zucchini didn’t seem to want to incorporate evenly with the pasta. I just made a special effort to make sure each serving had a proportionate amount of “good stuff” when I dished it up.
Recipe link: Pasta with Zucchini and Toasted Almonds