Saturday, September 18, 2010

Creamy Zucchini & Basil Pasta

This was my favorite recipe invention of this past summer (past already!), but I never got a great picture of it so I kept holding off posting. Part of the problem - squished up roasted zucchini is delicious, but not very photogenic. The "creamy" in the title comes from the texture of the zucchini, not from the optional cream. I served it as a dip at a dinner I made for my family and when the bowl was almost empty someone took a piece of bread and carefully cleaned out the last remnants - that's the sign of a good dip. It has the bright, summery flavor of fresh basil and the more autumnal, savory flavor of toasty, roasty zucchini. That makes it a great dinner for this in-between-seasons time.

Creamy Zucchini & Basil Pasta
serves 2, generously

4 cups zucchini, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
salt, pepper, and olive oil
3/4 pound short pasta
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs*
2 T butter

  • Toss the zucchini in olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread onto 2 cookie sheets. Roast in a 450 degree oven for about 20 to 25 minutes. Put the pans a few shelves apart in the oven and switch half-way through so that both pans get nicely browned.
  • Meanwhile, saute the garlic in a small pan until just starting to brown. Set that aside in a bowl big enough to hold the pasta.
  • In the same pan, toast the bread crumbs in the butter until brown.
  • When the zucchini are dark brown, scrape them into the bowl with the garlic. Add the basil, cream, and Parmesan and mix really well, squishing the zucchini against the side of the bowl. 
  • Mix in the hot pasta. Sprinkle the bread crumbs on top of each serving to keep them crunchy.
  • To make this as a dip, omit the bread crumbs and pasta and just serve it with slices of bread or crackers.
*I used 2 pieces of good, white, sourdough bread that I toasted a little, cut into small pieces, and ground up in my Cuisinart.
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