Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Penne with Zucchini Pistou

Pistou is a typical condiment of the Provencal region of France, traditionally a cold sauce made from garlic cloves, olive oil, and basil, although more recently it has often included hard cheese like Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano. Classically made with a mortar and pestle, the word pistou means pounded in the Provencal language. If you enjoy pesto, this dish is for you. I'm constantly looking for vegetarian dishes to incorporate into my diet for both the health and environmental benefits. With zucchini recently appearing at the farmer's market, I was instantly drawn to this recipe and was also thrilled to be able to use some of basil I'm currently growing in my apartment. Overall, this is a nice vegetarian dish, just make sure to cook the onion long enough to get rid of the sharp raw onion flavor which could otherwise dominate the dish; rinsing the chopped raw onion can also help.

Penne with Zucchini Pistou
from Cooking Light, July 2010

4 t. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2.5 c. (1/4-inch-thick) slices small zucchini (about 3/4 lb.)
1 c. packed basil leaves
1/2 c. (2 oz.) shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
2 T. pine nuts, toasted
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 c. chopped Vidalia or other sweet onion (about 1 large)
6 qts. water
1.75 t. kosher salt, divided
8 oz. uncooked penne pasta
1/4 c. heavy whipping cream
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper

1.  Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until tender and golden. Remove from pan; cool.

2. Place 1/4 cup cooked zucchini, basil, 1/4 cup cheese, pine nuts, and garlic in a food processor; process until finely chopped. (Keep mixture in processor.)

3. Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan; sauté 10 minutes or until golden. Return remaining cooked zucchini to pan. Remove from heat.

4. Combine 6 quarts water and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a large Dutch oven, and bring to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water according to package directions. Drain in a sieve over a bowl, reserving 1/3 cup cooking liquid. Add pasta to vegetables.

5. With processor on, add reserved liquid to basil mixture; process until smooth. Add basil mixture to pasta. Add cream, remaining salt, and pepper; stir. Top with remaining cheese.

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