fettuccine with zucchini and mint (mojitos!)

Mint was one of those things that entered dr bob's life with ms_ani. It was always in her family's homemade salad dressing but it wasn't so obvious until the new sister-in-law nora arrived from the old country and kicked it up a notch (Bam!). Salad dressing is something we never buy. We just put together some olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, some pressed garlic, freshly ground pepper and dried mint that we now keep a big stash of in the kitchen, and mix it into the salad greens, tomato, cucumber (avocado if in season) and we're in business. Nora increased the mint level enough to get bob to notice that it was there and ever since he's been following her example. Of course mint is also a key ingredient in our favorite yogurt soup, or even in yogurt drink (basically plain yogurt watered down with water and some salt and dried mint factored into the equation) often found in various middle eastern cuisines. And at the in-laws when Isgouhi's spaghetti with a spare tomato meat sauce just barely coating every little spaghetto is served, on the side comes a little plate of bright green dried mint flakes to sprinkle over it with your fingers—who would have ever thought of such a combination? But it works.

On the down side there is peppermint candy, something bob never liked, and chocolate mints! What a waste of good chocolate. Apparently peppermint, spearmint and mint are all in the same family, but what a difference it makes what you do with the stuff.

For example, 2001 was the year of the mojito in philly (Philly Mag Best of Year August 2001 through July 2002, so we were not that far behind), apparently a local manifestation of a worldwide trend. Several authentic Cuban cuisine restaurants opened in the city and word got out. We were quickly informed by friends Afsaneh, Geraldine and Ellen, an international trio of ladies with good taste and more social radar than us, who replicated the drink they'd experienced in a bar for us to try at home (fresh crushed MINT, lime juice, sugar, rum, soda water, ice: the web is full of recipes). Soon after, following a particularly heavy movie in center city, we stopped in one of those restaurants for a drink to chill out a bit, trying the authentic real deal and staying on for a terrific dinner after checking out the tasty menu and the day's specials. The local newspaper also noticed the drink, providing us with a mojito fish recipe to try and then pass on to the AGE trio in reciprocity. This all happened at the same time Cooking Light provided us with an appealing mint and zucchini fettuccine recipe. We'd already noticed the zucchini-fettuccine affinity, so with the mint radar up, this recipe became a high priority action item. We accompanied it with mojito salmon on the side, which turned out not to be as photogenic as the pasta.

ingredients

1 lb fresh fettuccine
1 t butter
8 c 1/2 in cubes zucchini
4 garlic cloves, pressed
1/4 c fresh mint, chopped
1/2 t salt
3/4 t freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 T olive oil
1/4 c freshly grated parmigiano

instructions

  1. Start the pasta water boiling and when ready throw in the pasta and some salt. [Leonora says omit the salt, but missed that remark and don't see the point. Add less salt later to taste.]
  2. Meanwhile saute the zucchini and garlic in butter in a large nonstick pan for about 4 minutes or until softened. Over medium high heat but don't burn the garlic!
  3. Stir in the mint, salt (to taste) and 1/4 t pepper.
  4. When al dente drain the pasta.
  5. Combine the zucchini mixture, pasta and oil, tossing to coat the pasta well.
  6. Sprinkle with parmigiano and the rest of the black pepper. It is okay to exaggerate with the parmigiano as we often do.

notes

  1. From Leonora Morales (Santiago, Chile), Cooking Light, June 2002, p.188. She's been to Italy many times and like bob decided to emulate their pasta-with-vegetable dishes back home (she suggests the occasional option of adding fresh tomatoes and pine nuts). We're glad she shared her experiment with us and we're happy to share it with you.
  2. Nutritional information for 6 servings (1 1/2 c per serving):
    CALORIES 258 (20% from fat), FAT 5.7g (sat 1.3g, mono 2.9g, poly 0.9), PROTEIN 9.2g, CARB 42.4g, FIBER 7.1g, CHOL 45mg, IRON 2.4mg, SODIUM 312mg, CALC 64mg.
  3. Of course ani and bob polished most of this off the first night by themselves. We are suckers for pasta.
  4. Illustrations.
fetmintz.htm: 1-may-2003 [what, ME cook? 1984 dr bob enterprises]