Alone in the Kitchen with a Zucchini

My fiancé is a pretty flexible eater. He often picks the weirdest thing on a restaurant menu to order. He’s ok with cobbled-together meals of steamed greens and turkey meatballs (the sort of thing my father Would Not Enjoy.)

There a just a few things Matt doesn’t like: olives (though we’re working on that), shrimp (they remind him of bugs, I think), mayo (which I don’t eat either), and sour cream (ditto. Our love is like, totally meant to be, right?)

And zucchini. For some reason, he’s just not that into it. Early in our relationship (and my cooking experiments) I innocently tucked a few slices of zucchini in a vegetable lasagna. He asked me—truly disturbed—why I’d made the choice to put pickles in the pasta.

I’d never really given zucchini much thought, but now I’m oddly drawn to the forbidden squash. Matt was out of town all week for a conference, so I made a meal of it. A pasta with more zukes than spaghetti, rich with a Carbonara-style sauce (minus the meat), with generous grindings of pepper and the nearly-final shavings of the prize Parmigiano my friend Will brought me from Rome. (Good thing I just bought a ticket to go there and get some more!)

Was the zucchini the best I’d ever had, or has it just been too long since my last taste? I picked perfect tiny ones at the farmer’s market—narrow, only six or seven inches long—figuring they’d be the most flavorful and sweet. They were fresh and herbal tasting, delicate and delicious.

For half an hour, I hardly missed him.

Pasta with Lots of  Zucchini and Beaten Egg
Adapted from Blake Royer/Marcella Hazan
serves 2

generous splash olive oil
2 shallots, diced
2 large cloves garlic, smashed
Spaghetti—1/4 pound
9 very small zucchini or a mix of zucchini and summer squash, ends removed
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino
1 very fresh egg
fresh nutmeg
salt and pepper

Put pasta water on to boil. Over low heat in a 6-qt saucepan or dutch oven, cook shallot and smashed garlic until shallot is clear. Cut zucchini into pencil-thick slices, then cut each slice in half lengthwise. Add zucchini to pan and stir. Season generously with salt. Cook over medium heat until tender, stirring often, about 15 minutes.

Crack egg into a bowl and beat lightly. Add cheese and a grating of fresh nutmeg.

Meawhile, cook pasta according to package directions until just al dente. When cooked, drain all but a few tablespoons of the water and add pasta and remaining water to zucchini pan. Turn off heat and toss quickly with egg and cheese mixture, not letting the egg scramble. Season with additional salt and pepper, plus more cheese if desired.

In italian, pasta, vegetables, zucchini

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