Finding ourselves with about a pound of pasta sheets left over from a recent lasagna
mission, we ran them through our electric motor driven pasta roller machine to flatten
them first to the thinnest (most thin?) setting and then fettuccine-ize 'em. Finally fresh
pasta for the mother-in-law who had been after us for some time for this. But how to match
these magic carbohydrate ribbons with the creamy sauce they scream for without resorting
to the classic but deadly alfredo sauce?
A little consultation with Marcella sparked memories
of a heavenly zucchini carbonara-like spaghetti concoction served out of a rustic
cave/bungalow/porchlike trattoria on the beach (Chiaia di Luna) at Ponza,
our favorite Mediterranean getaway island near Rome. Unlike the fancy hotels in the port,
recipes from this operation have a low probability of showing up in Gourmet magazine like the
radicchio risotto we have already reported on, so we are their only hope for a
promotional plug. [Not worth much.]
One minor problem. No zucchini on hand. A quick call to the brother-on-law before
departure saves the day. He'd bring 'em along. We just happened to have a bunch of fresh
basil going bad in the fridge, about a half a cup was salvageable. And fresh Italian
parsley too. The only detail that remained: the choice of egg yolk salmonella evasion
tactics. Cooking the beaten egg yolk in a béchamel (white) sauce would provide the cream
sauce component of our dish.
- 1 lb fresh fettuccine
- zucchini stuff
- 2 T olive oil, some white wine
- 4 medium zucchini, food processed finely
- 1/2 c fresh basil, chopped
- 1/2 c fresh parsley, chopped freshly ground pepper
- salt to taste
- cream sauce
- 2 T butter, melted
- 2 T flour
- 1 c lowfat milk
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/3 c freshly grated parmigiano
- 1/3 c freshly grated romano
- First food process the zucchini into mush and cook down for about 10 minutes in a large
nonstick pot with the olive oil. They shrink by a factor of two in volume. Turn down the
heat to low and add some white wine if too dry so it won't burn. Mix in the chopped basil
and parsley. [We used the mezzaluna on them.]
- Beat the egg yolk with about 1/4 c milk and separately mix well the rest of the milk
with the flour. Wisk the latter into the melted butter and thicken, about 5 minutes. Then
wisk in the egg-milk mixture until smooth. Stir until the possible salmonella passengers
are history. Reduce the heat.
- Meanwhile the pasta water is coming up to steam. When it starts rolling, dump in the
fettuccine (preceded by the salt, which we never mention). It should only take a few
minutes. Check for the al dente state. If you can time this so that the pasta is done
roughly just after the sauce, so much the better.
- Drain the fettuccine but don't shake out the water. Pour immediately into the zucchini
pot and mix it up. Then pour in the bechamel sauce and continue mixing. Finally the grated
cheese joins the party. Serve immediately since it has a tendency to stiffen quickly if
left to sit. Our guests were pleased.
- One danger of cream sauced pasta dishes, or in fact any sauced pasta dishes in America,
is that they can often be described as "sauce with some pasta" instead of
"pasta with some sauce." Moderation is not only healthy, it's in good taste.
Don't overwhelm your pasta.
- Another simpler variation of this arose when bob was too lazy to do the bechamel sauce
and we still had some panna da cucinare a lunga conservazione left from the summer trip to
Rome (cooking cream in small nonrefrigeratable cartons that has a long but not long enough
shelf life: it always ends up being expired by the time we use it up). 2 medium zucchini
food processed with the grating tool, 1/2 large leek food processed normally and sauteed
together in 2 T olive oil for some 10 minutes and then 200 ml of panna mixed in and
heated, then the burner turned off awaiting the pasta. Since we used store bought fresh
garlic-parsley fettuccine, we did not add garlic to the sauce. We did not drain the pasta
too thoroughly so that it would add some liquid to the sauce when mixed together, with 1/2
c parmigiano mixed in as well, and served with freshly ground black pepper. Good. Probably
the panna could be substituted by some other quick solution like light cream. Too bad to
have to rely on fat.