Monday, 15 February 2010

Zucchini Cappellini w/ Baby Heirloom Tomatoes

Whole Foods has been stocking a variety of "baby" (WF calls them "Gourmet") Heirloom Tomatoes. They look identical to their 'adult' counterparts, but they are about four times smaller. They are so cute! I don't know if thy're actually "babies" (I don't think they are), or if that's just how big they get based on the season/cultivation. They're so gorgeous and delicious that I needed to get them--twice (I use them in the mussels recipe too). I didn't have time to make the vegan wontons, but will be making them soon for my Skylab third-floor-friendies, so that recipe is still forthcoming--no worries.

I used a mandoline to julienne the zucchini--julienning the zucchini is a key part of this recipe. In fact, to julienne zucchini is one of the main reasons I bought a mandoline, as it's the easiest, most uniform way to do it. (I've never used a julienne peeler before, so I guess saying that is only correct with lack of experience in that realm, I just meant--julienning vegetables yourself, i.e. with a chopping knife--sucks.) I had to do this by hand (without the safety guard that keeps you from slicing your little fingertips off, and is totally inadvisable by all authorities on the subject), but I was really careful, and it was the only way I could do it, as the zucchini wouldn't fit in the guard!
Now that i think about it, I ended up splitting the zucchini in half most of the time while I was doing it anyway, so it might have fit in the guard--but I digress (imagine that). Most probably, a good remedy for this would be a julienne peeler, but I don't have one, so!

Also, please note at the bottom (after the recipe and all the photographs) I have given the vegan ingredients I altered for this recipe, as I generally make this vegan, and so can you!

Zucchini Cappellini w/ Baby Heirloom Tomatoes
(serves 4-6, or 10-12 as a side dish; takes about an hour, including prep)

5-6 small-medium zucchini, julienned*
1 1lb container of grape tomatoes, halved
1 1lb container of "Gourmet Heirloom Tomatoes", quartered
(substitute another container of grape tomatoes here if you can't find these)
8 medium garlic cloves
1 package whole wheat cappellini
(also called angel hair pasta or thin spaghetti, or at least, those would also both work)
6 tbsp olive oil, divided (2 tbsp, 2 tbsp, 2 tbsp, and extra for adding to the pasta water)
4 tbsp butter, divided (2 tbsp, 2 tbsp)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
shaved Parmesan (optional, at end)

  1. Add the 2 tbsp olive oil to a large saucepan on medium-high heat (you’ll see mine at the end, so that should give you a pretty good idea of how much room you need if you don’t scale down the recipe), and add the grape tomatoes. Once the tomato skins loosen a bit, turn this down to medium-low then low. Stew the tomatoes for up about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. (This is normally when I do the prep for the rest of the ingredients.)
  2. Season with some salt and pepper. Add the garlic to the tomatoes once you’ve minced the cloves. Add 2 tbsp of olive oil and 2 tbsp of butter.
  3. Add a bit of olive oil and sea salt to a large pot of water (optional), and cook the spaghetti until al dente (this takes about 6-7 minutes, but read the package)—or 1 minute before al dente, if you like the bite of al dente, because you’re going to add it to the sauce on low heat, which will cook it through. (Since the pasta is whole wheat, I cook it until al dente.) Drain. Rinse with cold water or add more olive oil to keep from sticking (also optional).
  4. On medium-low heat, add the quartered Heirloom tomatoes, simmer for 3 minutes at most.
  5. On low heat, add the julienned zucchini, let cook for 2 minutes, then add the pasta, and let cook for about a minute more. Add the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil and 2 tbsp of butter. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  6. If using, before serving, add shaved Parmesan on top. (I added some mixed in the pasta, and then some on top, because I didn’t use a lot of salt.)
*when you julienne the zucchini, you don't want the seeds--so do one 'side' at a time, around the center section (the seeds).

Potluck Ready!

Note: to make this vegan, replace all the butter with Earth Balance, or just use olive oil. To make this with an herb-infused olive oil and garlic 'sauce' instead of a tomato sauce, use the same amount of olive oil (or olive oil and Earth Balance), and on extremely low heat, add the garlic and the herbs (I use thyme and oregano or basil, normally) until fragrant. Steam the zucchini, or gently cook for 3 minutes on low heat. Add both the olive oil and the zucchini to the pasta at the same time. If you want to add the Heirloom tomatoes, but not have the stewed tomato sauce, add the tomatoes into the pan with the zucchini. The vegan version is also good with wilted spinach!

Somewhat Unrelated Side Note: Also, I know that sounds like a shitload of butter and olive oil (about 10 tbsp total!), and really fattening--what you have to remember is that in this recipe, I made a LOT of pasta, so it's actually much more on the conservative side. If you are making this for two, everything needs to be super scaled down, or you're going to have a lot of leftovers. Also, my recipe portions are guesses. I mean, I eat a lot less in one sitting that most people, so I'm guessing what "you" would eat--if everyone ate my portion size, the amount I made could probably feed 20 or 30 people--seriously. Everyone makes fun of me--but I think it's because I have a really slow metabolism, so I get full quickly, don't eat much, and then hungry again quickly. Normally when I make food, I am always tasting everything as I go along, also, and am never cooking just for myself--so I'm normally full by the time everything is ready for "you" to eat. OKAY, NOW YOU KNOW ALL THAT ABOUT ME.

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