Okay, this isn't really "pasta." Can you forgive me?
A couple of years ago the idea of making pasta out of shaved zucchini was buzzing around the food world (like the food section of the New York Times.) This was about the time doctors told me to get gluten out of our kitchen. So, any pasta that didn't involve wheat called my name. Since then, grated zucchini - usually sauteed, and topped with pesto - has gone into steady rotation at our house.
For you, I wanted to refine this simple idea a bit, give it a little flare, and here we are...
This recipe is delicious on its own, or works as side dish for grilled fish or chicken. If you want to turn the zucchini ribbons into a more substantial vegetarian meal, serve on a bed quinoa with a little additional lemon juice/olive oil vinaigrette.
- 4 large (or 6-8 small) zucchini
- 1 large or 2 small lemons, juice and zest
- 1/4 cup feta
- olive oil
- sea salt
- 1 bunch fresh mint
Scrub lemons. Grate the zest and set aside. Slice lemon in half and remove seeds. Set aside for juicing later.
Wash, dry and trim mint leaves and set aside.
Wash zucchini. Cut off the stem and base ends. Using a mandolin, or simple vegetable peeler, cut thin strips - ribbons - of zucchini. Slice 3 or 4 strips on a side, and then rotate the zucchini and continue slicing. Then rotate again. Keep working your way around the zucchini until you get to the seedy middle. Discard the core.
Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, though not smoking, add 1/3 to 1/2 of the zucchini ribbons. Toss to coat with olive oil. Add a pinch or two of sea salt. Cover the pan for a minute or so allowing the zucchini to steam a bit. Uncover and continue to saute until tender and just cooked through - al dente. If sliced thin, the zucchini really only needs a few minutes to cook. Give a generous squeeze of lemon juice to the cooked zucchini so that the citrus can blend with the warm oil. Set aside the cooked veg as you continue to saute zucchini in batches until done. Don't worry about the zucchini cooling down, this dish should be served warm or even room-temp.
Heap zucchini ribbons onto individual plates. Sprinkle with finely crumbled feta, lemon zest, and mint leaves. Add a little more sea salt if desired, though this usually isn't necessary with the salty feta and flavorful lemon juice.
Serves 4 as a substantial side.