Thursday, September 6, 2012

Zucchini to the Rescue

So we keep trying to wean my husband off gluten, plus I'm trying to drop another 20 pounds.  That means cutting out a lot of foods that are made of gluten-y grains or foods that I just can't seem to stop myself from eating too much of.  One food that has been disappearing off the menu lately is pasta.  Sure I can cook up gluten-free pasta, but even rice pasta, which doesn't even taste as good as semolina pasta, is a trigger food for me.  If given half a chance I'd probably polish off a pound in a sitting as long as the sauce was good (yes, butter can be considered a sauce in this case).

That makes the cooking life difficult this time of the year.  Late summer in NY means tomatoes are at their best and are begging to be made into fresh marinara.  Then there is my personal bumper crop of basil.

I insist on planting a lot of this every summer, which often brings me to ask, "What do I do with all of this basil before the snow flies?"

The answer is clear.  "Make pesto."  We all know my love of pesto and how I feel it "tastes like summer".  But if pesto was the solution to what I would do with the basil, what was my solution to what I would do with the pesto?  Pasta was out of the question, so what else?

Then one day I stumbled across this Facebook link from Thyme for Cooking. Katie had skillfully shaved zucchini into ribbons, lightly sauteed them, and doused them in pesto.  This was not the first time I have seen zucchini sub in for pasta, but it was the first time it made the light bulb go off in my head.

I made a basic pesto with pine nuts, parmesan, basil, garlic and olive oil (I don't bother with proportions.  I just throw it all in the food processor and let the results surprise me).  Then I used a vegetable peeler to create thin ribbons, which I sauteed in a little olive oil.  I coated them with the pesto.  They were a perfect side dish for my Turkey Veggie Loaf.

 SPP and I liked them so much that I decided to make a "real" pasta dish out of zucchini noodles.  I ran about 4 large zucchini through the grater disc in my food processor, sauteed them lightly in olive oil, and served them with turkey meatballs and my fresh tomato sauce using farm market tomatoes.

Let me tell you something, the man I call Sir Pickypants had no complaints and was very pleased with this reduced-calorie alternative.  

I am now officially dying to try Katie's Zucchini Crust Pizza.  I would have to figure out a good alternative flour for the crust, but it will be a great way to use up some of the extra fresh sauce I have in the freezer now.

You may possibly notice that there is a bit of a change in the photography?  I finally bought a new camera!  I'm afraid I didn't take most of these pictures in good light, but I'm working on it.  I wish I ate early enough to photograph in natural light, but I'll be trotting out the light box more (I was lazy for these photos).  If you're interested in learning about my photographic odyssey, go here. 


bellini said...

I have the zucchini now I just need time in my kitchen to recreate!

Sue said...

As I was reading the beginning of this post, I was thinking, "Just shave the zucchini into ribbons and pretend it's pasta." And that's just what you did. Grated zucchini is good too and a really overlooked way to cook it.

I will definitely try the zucchini crust. I bet it will be similar to the cauliflower crusted one. Just leave out the flour and use more mozzarella. It will come out probably like a super-thin browned frittata, just like with the cauliflower.